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What does "Yabai" mean and how is it used? Easy-to-understand explanations for foreigners using example sentences

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"Yabai" is a word that Japanese people often use in conversation, but it is also a word that is difficult to understand even if you study it in a textbook. In this article, we will explain the meaning and usage of ``Yabai'' in an easy-to-understand manner for foreigners, using example sentences.

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Meaning of “yabai”

The Japanese word ``yabai'' has both a correct meaning and a slang term often used by young people. It is also sometimes used as a simple interjection or exclamation.

original meaning

“It’s bad” means “Something bad or dangerous is likely to happen'' is the original meaning, and it has the same meaning as ``dangerous'' or ``not good.''

[Words similar to the original meaning of "Yabai"]

・Dangerous, bad, scary, suspicious, dissatisfied, serious, serious, serious, illegal, violent, terrible

Meaning as slang

In addition to its original meaning, ``Yabai'' is also used to mean ``very good'' and ``amazing.'' This is slang often used by young people. It has a completely opposite meaning to its original meaning.This is something to keep in mind.

[Main meaning of "Yabai" as slang]

・Very good, amazing, cool, delicious, fun, happy, interesting, beautiful

Meaning as an interjection, exclamation

``Yabai'' is often used as an exclamation, with the same meaning as ``Wow!'' or ``I did it!''. When used as an interjection, you can also say things like ``Yaba!'' or ``Yabei!''.

How do you say "Yabai" in English?

When you say ``Yabai'' in English, if it originally meant ``dangerous'' or ``not good,'' it can be translated as ``bad,'' ``dangerous,'' or ``strange.'' Slang terms include 'awesome' and 'cool'. In addition to this, it can be translated into various English depending on the situation.

[Example of English translation of "Yabai"]

"Yabai" in its original meaningbad,dangerous,strange,risky,suspicious,shit,damn,awful,terrible,weird etc.
"Yabai" in slang meaningawesome, cool, amazing, crazy, super, funny, impressive etc.
The adjective “Oh no!”oh my god!, oh no!, wow! etc.

How to use “Yabai” and example sentences

"Yabai" is a word often used as slang by young people, so even if you study it in textbooks, it is difficult to understand how to use it naturally. Here, we will introduce some example sentences that are easy for foreigners to use and that clearly illustrate the nuances of ``yabai''.

"Oh no! I forgot my wallet."

Japaneseterrible! I forgot my wallet
romajiYabai! Saifu wo wasureta.
EnglishOh no! I forgot my wallet.

``Oh no, I forgot my wallet'' is an example sentence that uses ``Oh no'' as an interjection. In English, the ``dangerous'' part simply means ``Oh no'' or ``Oh my god.''

In addition to when you forget your wallet, you can use it in any situation, such as when you overslept or when you make a mistake at work.

“This food is terrible.”

JapaneseThis dish is terrible
romajiKono ryouri wa yabai.
EnglishThis dish is so good(or bad).

``This dish is so good'' means ``this dish is so good'' if the ``dangerous'' part means ``delicious,'' and ``This dish is so bad.'' if it means ``bad (not delicious).'' "Yabai" has both good and bad meanings, ``This food is amazing'' can mean both things.This is something to keep in mind. In a real conversation, you can usually tell what the person means based on the situation, such as whether the person looks happy.

This sentence can be used not only for cooking, but also for various things such as movies and games.

"My weight is terrible"

JapaneseMy weight is terrible
romajiTaijuu ga yabai.
EnglishI've gained so much weight.

``My weight is terrible'' means ``I don't have a good weight,'' which means ``I've gained weight.'' In English, it can be translated as 'I've gained so much weight.'

In this sentence, "yabai" is mostly used to mean "not good," and it is rarely used in a positive sense to mean "I lost weight" or "succeeded in dieting." It's hard to know which meaning to use ``yabai'' in a sentence unless you listen to a lot of Japanese people's daily conversations and get used to it.

"The ending of this movie is terrible."

JapaneseThe ending of this movie is terrible
romajiKono eiga no ketsumatsu wa yabai.
EnglishThe ending of the movie is awesome.

``The ending of the movie is awesome.'' uses ``Yabai'' in a positive sense to mean ``The ending of the movie is awesome.''

It can also be used to mean "the ending is not good," but in that case it would be more natural to say something like "The ending of the movie is terrible."

“It turned out to be terrible.”

JapaneseSomething bad happened
romajiYabai koto ni natta.
EnglishA bad thing happened.I am in trouble. 

``Yabai wo natta'' means ``something bad happened.'' In English, it can be translated as ``A bad thing happened.'' or ``I am in trouble.'' This sentence is rarely used to mean "something good happened."

Tips for learning Japanese

Finally, for those of you who are working hard on learning Japanese, I would like to share some tips for learning Japanese.
There are many ways to learn Japanese efficiently, but this time we will specifically introduce methods that use audiobooks, books, dramas, and movies.

Learning method using audiobooks

  • How to chooseBeginners should choose audiobooks for learning Japanese. For intermediate and above learners, choose an audiobook with a story that interests you and have fun while learning.
  • overheardYou can train your listening skills by playing audiobooks in the background and listening to them repeatedly in your daily life.
  • listen repeatedlyListen to the parts you don't understand over and over again. This will help your ears get used to the Japanese rhythm and intonation.
  • sentence shadowingLearn pronunciation and rhythm by listening and reading out loud at the same time.
  • Recommended audiobooks:You can learn Japanese ``anytime, anywhere'' and ``efficiently'' while traveling or working.

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Learning method using books

  • How to chooseBeginners should choose picture books for children or Japanese teaching materials for beginners, and intermediate and above students should choose easy-to-read books such as light novels and essays. Manga is also recommended.
  • underlineUnderline words and phrases you don't know and look up their meanings later to understand the content of the book.
  • summaryWe also recommend summarizing what you read in your own words to deepen your understanding.
  • rereadingIf you read a book once, you can often make new discoveries and deepen your understanding by reading it again after some time has passed.
  • Recommended sites:

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Learning method using dramas and movies

  • Learning daily conversationDramas and movies are suitable for learning natural Japanese expressions and culture because they often contain scenes of everyday conversation.
  • Utilization of Japanese subtitlesWatch with Japanese subtitles on for the first time, take notes of words and expressions you don't understand, and look them up later.
  • reenactment of the sceneIt is also effective to choose your favorite scene or line and imitate it out loud. This will improve not only your listening but also your speaking skills.
  • Cultural understanding:You can learn about Japanese culture, customs, and values ​​through dramas and movies. Understanding the background of the story and the emotions of the characters will enable deeper learning.
  • Recommended drama/movie distribution services:

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"Yabai" is a word often used as slang, so it can be difficult for foreigners to use it correctly and naturally. However, if you use ``yabai'' naturally, you will be able to give the impression that you are good at conversational Japanese and that you are used to it.

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