How to use 一応 ( = ichiou)


= Doushite tabenai no?

= How come you’re not eating?


= Ichiou daietto shiteirukara…

= I am sort of on a diet…

Hi everyone! Today’s lesson is for my Twitter follower, Jen.

And the focus word is

:rrrr: 一応  ( = ichiou)

:rrrr: Originally we write  一往

Jen asked me the meaning of this word a while ago. I was going to answer her on Twitter but it was too tough to explain in 140 characters so here we go.

You might have heard this word once or twice somewhere. It just might be one of the most frequently used words in conversation. However the dictionary definition may not quite seem to make sense all the time because there are various meanings/usages. Sometimes we can’t even translate the word. So in this lesson, I will give you lots of example sentences so that you can get the idea how it’s used.

I would like to also teach many useful phrases.


!CHECKHEART! 一応= ichiou

not perfectly, completely but to some extent, sort of

I have mentioned in my ちょっと&曖昧  ( = chotto & aimai) ambiguous expression lesson that Japanese people prefer to use ambiguous expressions. You should also remember to try to make yourself sound modest when you talk about yourself.  (See my 謙遜=kenson lesson )

Let’s say that you think your Japanese is pretty good. How would you answer if someone asked you how good your Japanese was?

Even if you are confident, it’s better to avoid saying,


= perapera desu.

= I am fluent.



=Nihongo ga jouzu desu.

= I am good at Japanese.

Many of you have already learned how to make yourselves sound more humble saying,



= madamada desu.

= So-so (It is still a long way to go.)

This phrase is very useful but if you are actually confident and want to tell people that you do speak Japanese in a little humble way, you can say


= Ichiou chotto dekimasu.

= I can sort of  speak it.

It means “not fully” but “to some extent“.


So, you can make yourself sound “modest” without giving the listener the impression that you are overly confident by using 一応  ( = ichiou)

A : 「英語が話せますか?」

= Eigo ga hanasemasu ka?

= Do you speak English?

B : 「はい、一応、話せます。」

= Hai, ichiou hanasemasu.

= Yes, I can speak (English) (Not perfect — but to some extent.)

When you brag about something :

I just said 一応  ( = ichiou) makes you sound humble.

The tricky part is, you can also brag “subtly” using this word.

A : 「マギー、日本語が話せるの?」

= Maggie, nihongo ga hanaseru no?

= Maggie, can you speak Japanese?

Maggie : 一応ね!」

= Ichiou ne.

= Sort of. (Somewhat. To some extent.) * being confident

Note 1) This ね  ( = ne) suffix is casual. Usually ね  ( = ne) suffix is for women but men can use this one.)


Let’s compare these two sentences.


Ex.1) 私は大学を出ている。

= Watashi wa daigaku wo dete iru.

= I graduated from a university.



Ex. 2) 私は一応大学を出ている。

= Watashi wa ichiou daigaku wo dete iru.

= I graduated from a university.

Note : Ex.2) may sound more humble because 一応   ( = ichiou) has a connotations of “somehow” but a lot of the time, you are actually emphasizing the fact that you are a college graduate. This way the listener will think you are proud of being a college graduate.

So 一応 ( = ichiou) was originally used to make yourself sound humble or subtle, but since it focuses the fact more, it actually gives people around you the impression that you are bragging.

Ex. これでも一応、結婚しているので…。

= Koredemo ichiou kekkon shiteiru node…

= (I may not look I am married but ) I am married.

Ex. 一応、付き合っている人がいる。

= Ichiou tsukiatte iru hito ga iru.

= I am sort of seeing someone.

How can we tell if the speaker is bragging or being humble? By the way how speaker delivers the line or  also what comes next to 一応  ( = ichiou). If the speaker is talking about something that is obviously considered to be good, it is bragging.

I will give you an interesting example.

There is a book titled,

:: 「東大生はなぜ「一応、東大です」と言うのか。

= Toudaisei wa naze “Ichiou Toudai desu” to iu noka.

=Why do Tokyo University students say “I go to “that” Tokyo University”

Now I haven’t read this book yet but this title is very interesting.

Tokyo University is considered to be one of the top notch universities in Japan.

You don’t say 一応   ( = ichiou) if you go to a 二流  ( =  niryuu) = second class or 三流  ( =  sanryuu ) = third class university.

For example,

A : 「マギー頭いいね。」

= Maggie atama iine.

= You are smart, Maggie.

Maggie : 一応ドッグスフォード大学出てるからね。」

= Ichiou Doggusufoodo Daigaku deteru karane.

=It’s because I graduated from “that” Dogsford University, you know.

I am obviously bragging using 一応  ( = ichiou)

If Dogsford University were a third class University like “Catsford University”, you wouldn’t say 一応   ( = ichiou).


A : 「どこに住んでるの?」

= Doko ni sunderuno?

= Where do you live?

B : 一応、軽井沢。」

= Ichiou Karuizawa.

= In Karuizawa (implying “As you know, it’s a fancy place to live.“)

Note : The listener can tell you are proud of living in Karuizawa.


A :「何の車に乗っているの?」

= Nan no kuruma ni notte iru no?

= What kind of car do you drive?

B : 一応ベンツ」

= Ichiou bentsu

= Mercedes Benz. (Implying that the Benz, as everyone knows, is a nice car.)


You can use it negatively.

just formality, on surface :

Ex. あれでも一応医者なんだって。

= Are demo ichiou isha nan datte.

= (He may not look like a doctor but ) He is a doctor of a sort.

Ex. マギーは一応先生とは呼ばれているけど実は犬なんだって。

= Maggie wa ichiou sensei to yobarete iru kedo jitsu wa inu nan datte.

= Maggie is called as a teacher but as a matter of fact she is a dog


When you avoid telling people how much exactly you actually did/will do.

一応 (=ichiou) could be a very useful word for many people when they say what they did/will do is not perfect but they did (will do) it anyway.

(Some complain that young people overuse 一応 (  = ichiou) to cover up the poor quality of their work.)

Ex. 一応、この契約書に目を通しました。

= Ichiou kono keiyakusho ni me wo tooshimashita.

= I scanned this contract once.

(I didn’t read it fully, but I looked it over.)

Ex. 「例の仕事はもうできた?」

= Rei no shigoto wa mou dekita?

= Did you finish that work already?


= Hai, ichiou dekimashita.

= Yes, I sort of finished it.

So when you say,


= Ichiou yarimashita.

= I sort of did it. or I’ve done it. (But I it may need some more work.)

It implies the result is not perfect but you can emphasize the fact that it has been completed.

So when someone asks you to do something and you can’t promise but you want to tell them at least you are going to try you say,

Ex. 一応やってみます。

= Ichiou yatte mimasu.

= I will give it a try.

Ex. 一応考えてみます。

= Ichiou kangaete mimasu.

= I will think about it once.

Ex. 一応、がんばってみます。

= Ichiou ganbatte mimasu.

= I will give it a try. (to some extent)

You can also ask someone for a favor using 一応 ( =  ichiou) without giving lots of pressure.


= Ichiou yareru tokoro made yatte mite kudasai.

= Please give it a try and do as much as you can.

Ex. 一応、明日までに返事をくれる?

= Ichiou ashista made ni henji wo kureru?

= Can you give me your answer by tomorrow?


somehow, anyhow : なんとか ( = nantoka)

Ex. 月8万円あれば一応生活はできる。

= Tsuki hachiman en areba ichiou seikatsu wa dekiru.

= You could survive (to some extent) somehow if you have 80,000 yen a month.

Ex. 一応試験に受かりました。

= Ichiou shiken ni ukarimashita.

= I somehow managed to pass the exam.

Ex. 一応、人数は集まった。

= Ichiou ninzuu wa atsumatta.

= We managed to get enough people somehow.


A : 「免許取れた?」(casual)

= Menkyo toreta?

= Did you get a driver’s license?

B : 一応取れた!」(casual)

= Ichiou toreta!

= I got it somehow.


tentatively, for the moment, for the time being, roughly

Ex. 一応2千円渡しておくね。

= Ichiou nisenen watashite okune.

= I will give you 2,000 yen for now.

A : 「試験勉強した?」

= Shiken benkyou shita?

= Did you study for the exam?

B : 一応ね。」

= Ichiou ne.

= Sort of.


B : 一応、40ページまでは読んできた。」

= Ichiou yonjuppeiji made wa yonde kita.

= I have read up to page 40. (roughly)

Ex. 一応、ここに名前を書いてもらえますか?

= Ichiou koko ni namae wo kaite moraemasuka?

= Can you write your name here for now?

A : 「マギー、マックスのことが好きなんでしょ!」

= Maggie, Max no koto ga sukinandeshou!

= Maggie, you like Max, don’t you?

M : 「そんなことないよ。」

= Sonna koto nai yo.

= That’s not true.

A : 「じゃあ、一応そういういことにしておきましょう。」

= Ja ichiou souiu koto ni shiteokimashou.

= OK, let’s just say that you don’t for now.

anyway, just in case, to do something for formality

Ex. 一応、調べておきます。

= Ichiou shirabete okimasu.

= I will check it anyway.

Ex. 一応、連絡先を教えてくれる?

= Ichiou renrakusaki wo oshiete kureru?

= Can you give me your contact information just in case?

Ex. この薬を飲んでいいかどうかお医者さんに一応相談してみて下さい。

= Kono kusuri wo nonde iika douka oishasan ni ichiou soudan shite mite kudasai.

= Just in case, please consult a doctor and see if you can take this medicine or not.

Ex. 一応、彼に電話をしておきます。

= Ichiou kare ni denwa wo shiteokimasu.

= I will call him just in case.

Ex. この本を借りていいか一応マギーに聞いてみる。

= Kono hon wo karite iika ichiou Maggie ni kiite miru.

= I will ask Maggie if it’ OK if I borrow this book or not. (just in case)

Ex. 一応、困った時の為に電話番号を教えておくね。

= Ichiou komatta toki no tame ni denwa bangou wo oshiete okune.

= I will give you my phone number just in case you get in trouble.

Ex. 来週の水曜日は定休日となります。一応、お知らせまで。

= Raishuu no suiyoubi wa teikyuubi to narimasu. Ichiou oshirase made.

= Next Wednesday is our scheduled holiday. I’m just letting you know.

Ex. 一応言っておくね、明日から旅行だから!

= Ichiou itte okune. Ashita kara ryokou dakara!

= I’m letting you know just in case. I will leave on a trip tomorrow, OK?

Ex. あの子、彼氏 (or カレシ)いるかどうか一応聞いておいてくれる?

= Anoko kareshi iru ka douka ichiou kite oite kureru?

= Can you ask her if she has a boy friend or not, just in case.

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Haa… ichiou nantoka konkai mo ressun ga dekimashita!

= I somehow managed to make a lesson again this time.


= Minna ichiou no tsukaikata wakatat?

= Now does everyone understand how to use “ichiou”?


= Eh!? “Ichiou ne” tte douiukoto?

= What do you mean, “Sort of!”!!


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  1. Hello, Maggie Sensei. Ohisashiburi Desu 🌸
    Sensei, I Usually Hear/Read The Sentence: “一応聞いとけ” Or “一応聞いておけ”, But Cannot Figure Out What Does “一応” Stand For In This Context? Does It Mean: (For Now)→(Listen For Now)??
    Onegai Shimasu! ✨

  2. こにちわ, マギー先生。

    I just have a question about this sentence.

    It translates to “Let’s just say that you don’t for now.” I can see how that sentence contains the words “for now” and “that”. But I am at a lost how you get “let’s just say you don’t”. Is the にして here the same one as your [にしては & わりに] lesson? And for the おきましょう verb I think it is the verb おく, right? But I just don’t understand how it translates to that in English.

    Also, in 例の仕事はもうできた? I tried to look up 例 but it only means “example”. Does it always mean “that” in such sentences?


    1. 一応そういういことにしておきましょう。
      Means “Let’s just put that way for now.”

      My translation there, Let’s just say that you don’t for now.”
      is from the previous sentences.

      You like Max, don’t you?
      No I don’t.
      Let’s just say you don’t (like him)”

      As for 例の I explained in this lesson.

  3. I’ve been wondering for a while now how to say,” just in case.” So tatoeba kumotteiru hiniha “ichiou kasawo motte tsurete okimasu” tte ittemo iidesuka?

    Thank you !!

    1. @Joanne

      Yes you can use 一応
      = Kumottte iru hi wa ichiou, kasa wo motte ikimasu.

      Careful. 連れていく= tsurete iku= is just for people.

      1. Thank you very much!! your site is indeed a great help!! Im just so happy to learn and be able to read japanese word and somehow use it!!! By the way how can i say ‘goodluck to me” in a nice way .. you are awesome!!!!

        1. @kurizu

          Hi Kurizu!
          I’m happy to hear this site helps you.
          Sorry, I don’t quite understand your question. When do you use “good luck to me”?
          Do you mean “Wish me luck”?

  4. Wow ! Excellent job here Maggie Sensei ^.^ I’ve been struggling with this word since it conveys so many different nuances but your explanations just made them crystal clear ! And that just gave more interesting insights about the Japanese culture and “indirectness” (or indirect “directness” should I say ^.^)


  5. hi! your site is really great, it really helps in learning nihonggo.
    may i ask, what does okune mean?

    1. @cass

      Hello Cass!
      ~ておくね(=te okune) is a casual suffix
      V ておく/ V ておきます
      to do something done for someone
      to do something and leave it
      Here is the related lesson. ~shiteoku

  6. マギー先生こんにちは。

    1. @katy

      Hi! You mean “~のに”? I might have made a mini lesson on Twitter before but not on this site yet.
      OK, I can make a mini lesson sometime. (Maybe on my Facebook!) Will let you know when it’s done in this comment section, OK?

  7. このレッスンは難しいですね! 私の頭がまだくらくらしていますが ~(O_o)~, 一応,わかるようにがんばって習います!(~_^)

    ありがとうございました, マギー先生!

    Cute picture of you by the way, that cupcake looks tasty ♥

    1. @Remi

      Haha, I know it’s a tough lesson addressing intermediate level people. でも、一応がんばってみて!

  8. このレッスンで沢山の会話に使いやすい句が出ている!一応、それぞれの意味をわかっているけど、把握できるまではまだまだですよね

    In the sentence,


    = Tousaisei wa naze “Ichiou Toudai desu” to iu noka.

    Is Tousaisei supposed to be TouDaisei?

    1. @Jen

      Hi, Jen! I am very happy that you have checked this lesson because I made this for you!
      I know, as I wrote in the lessons, this word is tough unless you know when and how to use it. Please read through example sentences again and again until you 把握!!(→You know a great word!)

      Sorry for the typo. I will fix it.

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