Saturday, February 2, 2019

yokatta よかった

In Japanese, yokatta よかった means "was good," "I'm glad," "that's a relief," "thank goodness," and "it would have been better [if...]," depending on context.

It's the past form of ii いい. Its antonym is warukatta 悪かった.

ザァァァァ こんなことならコンビニで傘買えばよかった
Manga: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Chapter 5, モテないし宿る)


The word yokatta written with kanji is yokatta 良かった, but it's often written with hiragana, as yokatta よかった instead.


The literal meaning of yokatta is "was good." From this meaning, you end up with several usages depending on the sentence structure. To summarize:

  1. To say something was good. That you're glad that something happened. That it's a relief that something happened.
    • are ga yokatta
      That was good. (literally.)
    • yokatta
      [Something] was good.
      I'm glad. (that something that was good happened.)
      It's a relief. (that something that was good happened.)
      Thank goodness. (that something that was good happened.)
  2. To say that doing something was good, that you're glad you did it, that you're glad something happened, or glad something was true.
    • {benkyou shite} yokatta
      {[Me] studying} was good.
      [I'm glad] [I] studied.
    • {kimi de} yokatta
      {[It] being you} was good.
      [I'm glad] [it] was you.
    • {sagi janakute} yokatta
      {[It] not being a scam} was good.
      [I'm glad] [it] wasn't a scam.
  3. To say something that didn't happen was good, which is bad, because it would have been better if the good thing had happened.
    • {motto benkyou sureba} yokatta
      [It] would have been good {if [I] had studied more}.
      It would have been better if I had studied more.
    • {kawanai} hou ga yokatta
      {Not buying [it]} would have been good.
      It would have been better if I hadn't bought it.

"Was Good"

The literal meaning of yokatta is "was good." This is the past form of ii いい, or rather, of yoi 良い, which means "is good."

  • tenki ga ii
    The weather is good.
  • tenki ga yoi
    (same meaning.)
  • tenki ga yokatta
    The weather was good.

Every expression which contains ii いい in Japanese can be turned into past tense by replacing it with yokatta よかった. For example:

  • naka ga ii

    [Their] relationship is good.
    They're friends.
  • naka ga yokatta
    [Their] relationship was good.
    They were friends.
  • kakko-ii

    [You're] good-looking.
    You're cool.
  • kakko-yokatta
    [You] were good-looking.
    You were cool. (that. Was. AWESOMEEEE~~~!!!)
  • kimochi-ii

    [It] is good-feeling.
    [It] is pleasant.
  • kimochi-yokatta
    [It] was good-feeling.
    [It] was pleasant.
  • ~hou ga ii

    [This] way is good.
    It's better if...
  • ~hou ga yokatta
    [This] way was good.
    It would have been better if...

All usage of yokatta derives from this "was good" meaning.

"I'm Glad"

The word yokatta can translate to English as "I'm glad" when used alone. Literally, it means something "was good," in the sense that what happened "was good," so you're glad that it happened.

おいしーです! そうか 良かった
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 5, かぐや様はいただきたい)
  • Context: food has been offered.
  • oishii desu!
    It's delicious!
  • sou ka
    I see.
  • yokatta
    I'm glad. (that you liked it.)

"That's a Relief"

Depending on context, yokatta can better translate to "that's a relief" instead of "I'm glad."

よかった・・・本物の方ですね・・・ 前にインターネットで相談した時は適当なこと言われたので
Manga: Mob Psycho 100, Mobu Saiko Hyaku モブサイコ100 (Chapter 53)
  • Context: a woman meets psychics. After confirming they actually have psychic powers:
  • yokatta...
    {honmono no} kata desu ne...

    That's a relief... [you] are {real} [psychics], aren't you?
    • honmono
      Real. Genuine. As opposed to "fake," nisemono 偽物.
    • kata

      Used to people to people.You're "people" who are real [psychics].
  • {{mae ni} intaanetto de
    soudan shita} toki wa {tekitou na}
    koto iwareta no de...

    [It's a relief], because: when {[I] consulted on the internet {before}} [I] was told {"appropriate"} things.
    • tekitou
      Appropriate, often used in a lazy, deceiving sense. She was told "appropriate" things, things "appropriate" for a real psychic to say, so they didn't have psychic powers, but talked as if they were psychics. They were trying to deceive her, and she's relieved to have found real ones this time.

Although "relief" implies the speaker was somehow troubled, this is manga we're talking about, so sometimes the speaker caused the trouble themselves.

よかったー は? 私は生まれて五千年初めて自分の血を見ました 太公望・・・私は彼をライバルに決定します
Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 1, 封神の書)
  • Context: Shinkouhyou 申公豹 blasts Taikoubou 太公望 with a powerful attack, who retaliates, giving Shinkouyou a little cut in the cheek. Shinkouyou asks his cat to check if Taikoubou survived, and then, after confirming he survived the attack:
  • yokatta~
    That's a relief.
  • ha?
    Hah? (the cat doesn't get why he's relieved the guy he was going to kill is still alive.)
  • watashi wa
    umarete go-sen-nen
    jibun no chi wo

    In the five thousand years [I] have been born [it] is the first time I've seen [my] own blood.
  • Taikoubou...
    (character name.)
  • watashi wa kare wo
    raibaru ni
    kettei shimasu

    I've decided he's [my] rival.
    (performative verb.)

"Thank Goodness"

Sometimes, yokatta is better translated as "thank God" or "thank goodness" instead, or something similar. The literal meaning of the word hasn't changed—yokatta never means "thanks"—it's just the translation that changed.

よかった・・・・・・・・・ ポロ はぁ・・・・・・ 嬉しい・・・・・・嬉しい・・・・・・
Manga: Inuyashiki いぬやしき (Chapter 15)
  • yokatta.........
    Thank God.........
  • poro
    *tear dropping*
    (mimetic word.)
  • haa......
  • ureshii...... ureshii......
    I'm glad..... I'm glad......
    • ureshii
      Happy. Glad.


The phrase yokatta janai? よかったじゃない? means "wasn't that a good thing?" or "shouldn't you be glad that that happened?" Literally, it's closer to "isn't it yokatta?" Some variants include:

  • yokatta janai ka?
    (same meaning.)
  • yokatta janai no?
    (same meaning.)
よかったじゃねーか 嫁のもらい手があってよォ
Manga: Gintama 銀魂 (Chapter 7)
  • Context: a girl gets a stalker guy who loves her.
  • yokatta janee ka
    That was a good thing, wasn't it?
    Shouldn't you be glad?
  • yome no morai-te ga atte yoo
    That there's [someone] to take you as a wife.
    • morai-te
      "Taker." From morau もらう, "to take," and the te 手 part means someone who does an action, in this case: taking. Not to be confused with "taking one's hand," which's not a Japanese expression.


The phrase ~te-yokatta ~てよかった is the te-form of a verb plus yokatta. It means "I'm glad that X happened."

More technically, it means "the predicate holding true was good." For example:

  • {benkyou shite} yokatta
    {[Me] studying} was good.
    I'm glad that {[I] studied}.

The Japanese te-form is tenseless. The tense of the te-form is derived from the matrix clause. In this case, yokatta is in the matrix, and yokatta is past-tensed, so the te-form becomes past-tensed, too.

Literally, benkyou shite is a bit similar to "[someone] studying," which is tenseless in English. It translates to English as "[someone] studied" in past tense in order to agree with the tense of "was good."

Some more examples:

  • {kite} yokatta
    {[Me] coming [here]} was good.
    I'm glad that {[I] came [here]}.
  • {mite} yokatta
    {[Me] seeing [it]} was good.
    I'm glad that {[I] saw [it]}.
  • ganbatte yokatta
    I'm glad I did my best.
    I'm glad I put effort. (because it paid off.)
    • ganbaru
      To try hard. To put effort. To try one's best.
  • hanashite yokatta
    I'm glad we talked.
    • hanasu
      To talk. To have a conversation.
  • kiite yokatta
    I'm glad I heard it.
    I'm glad I asked.
    • kiku
      To hear. To listen.
      To ask something.
  • ikite yokatta
    I'm glad I lived.
    • ikiru
      To live.
      (one of the heaviest phrases you can make with yokatta.)
  • nyuubu shite yokatta
    I'm glad I joined this club.
    (because of all the friendships, memories, et cetera I made along the way.)
    • nyuubu suru
      To enter a club.
Manga: Mob Psycho 100, Mobu Saiko Hyaku モブサイコ100 (Chapter 67)
  • {aete} yokatta yo!
    {[Me] meeting [you]} was good."
    I'm glad that {[I] met [you]}.
    • au
      To meet.

As you'd imagine, this ~te yokatta is often used in sentimental situations.

  • toki ga sugite, ima, kokoro kara ieru
    anata ni aete yokatta ne

    時が過ぎて 今 心から言える
    Time passed, now, I can say from my heart,
    I'm glad I met you.
  • Anata ni Aete Yokatta あなたに会えてよかった by Koizumi Kyoko 小泉今日子, album Afropia (1991).[lyrics from, accessed 2019-02-01]


The phrase ~de-yokatta ~でよかった works just like ~te-yokatta, meaning "I'm glad that something happened." The only difference is that in this case we have a predicate whose te-form ends in ~de ~で instead of ~te ~て.

There are two such predicates.

  1. The godan verbs that suffer renjoudaku 連声濁, which are the ones that have ~gu ~ぐ, ~bu ~ぶ, ~nu ~ぬ, ~mu ~む endings.
    • yomu
      To read.
    • {yonde} yokatta
      {[Me] reading [it]} was good.
      I'm glad that [I] read [it]. (before doing something.)
  2. The da だ copula, used after adjectives, nouns, etc., whose te-form is the de で copula.
    • kimi da

      [It] is you.
    • {kimi de} yokatta
      {[It] being you} was good.
      I'm glad that {[it] was you}.
      • Again, de で only translates to "was" because yokatta in the matrix is past-tensed. Normally to say "was" you'd instead say:
      • kimi datta
        [It] was you.
Manga: One Piece (Chapter 1)
  • buji de yokatta
    I'm glad [you're] unharmed.
    • buji da
      To be unharmed. For nothing to have happened with.


The phrase yokatta can be used together with a conditional to mean "it would have been better if." This is typically used when you regret not having done something, or you picked the wrong choice.

This is an instance of a counterfactual, which is when you say "it would have been X if Y happened, but Y didn't happen." With the "I'm glad" meaning, Y was factual, but with the "I should have done that," Y isn't factual any longer, it hasn't happened.


The phrase ~ba yokatta ~ばよかった is the ba-form plus yokatta. It's used when you haven't done something, and you regret not doing it.

ザァァァァ こんなことならコンビニで傘買えばよかった
Manga: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Chapter 5)
  • Context: it begins raining.
  • zaaaaa
    *rain noises*
  • konna koto nara
    konbini de kasa φ
    kaeba yokatta

    If [it] were to be something like this
    it would have been better if [I] had bought
    an umbrella at the convenience store.
    • kaeba - ba-form of kau 買う, "to buy."


The phrase ~nara yokatta ~ならよかった works the same way as ~ba yokatta. The only difference is that nara なら, or naraba ならば, is the ba-form of the da だ copula.

Manga: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Chapter 3, モテないし昔の友達に合う)
  • Context: a girl and her friend became high school girls.
  • zutto {chuugakusei no} mama nara
    yokatta noni na~

    Even though it would have been better if
    [we] remained middle school students forever.
    • {chuugakusei no} mama da
      To be continually {middle school students}.
      To remain {middle school students}.


The phrase ~hou ga yokatta ~方がよかった is ~hou ga ii in past tense.

The phrase ~hou ga ii is used to say that one method is good compared to others, i.e. it's better if you do things one way, rather than another.

As a counterfactual, it ends up meaning that you should have done something that way, rather than the way you chose.

バンソウコウ・・・つけてない方がよかったな ・・・髪も切ってくればよかった
Manga: Holy Land, ホーリーランド (Chapter 55)
  • Context: character regrets his appearance.
  • bansoukou...
    tsuketenai hou ga yokatta na

    It would have been better if if [I] hadn't put a band-aid.
    • Fun fact: band-aid is a brand name, the generic name is "adhesive bandage."
  • ...kami mo kitte-kureba yokatta
    ...the hair, too, would have been better if [I] had gone cut it.
    • kitte-kureba - ba-form of:
    • kitte-kuru
      To cut and come. To go cut and come back.
      (compound verb.)


The phrase ~n janakatta ~んじゃなかった is sometimes used to say that something shouldn't have been done, similar to how yokatta works. Literally, it means "was not," in the sense of something "wasn't to be," ideally wasn't to have occurred. For example:

貧乏くさい他人といっしょの列車なんかに乗るんじゃあ なかったわ・・・ 指定席とったって声がつつぬけじゃあない こんなんだったら居眠りできないけど車でくるんだったわ
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter 61, ベイビィ・フェイス その①)
  • Context: rich woman boards train.
  • {{binbou kusai} tanin to
    issho no} ressha nanka ni
    noru-n-jaa nakatta wa...

    乗るんじゃあ なかった・・・
    I shouldn't have boarded a train {together
    with {[all these peasants]}}.
    • {binbou kusai} tanin
      People [who] {smell of poverty}. (literally.)
    • jaa
      In this case, same as ja じゃ, but she pronounces it longer.
  • shitei-seki tottatte
    koe ga tsutsu-nuke jaa nai

    Even though [they] call [it] a reserved seat,
    [you] can hear voices through the walls, can't you?
    • She's complaining there's nothing special about the seat, since she can hear the peasants talking anyway.
    • to-ttatte とったって
      to itta tte と言ったって
      to itta toshite-mo と言ったとしても
      to itte-mo と言っても
      Even if you call it. Even if you say it is.
    • tsutsu-nuke
      To be overheard.
  • konna-n-dattara
    inemuri dekinai kedo
    kuruma de kuru-n-datta wa

    If it's like this
    I wouldn't be able to sleep but
    I should have come by car.
    • Since janakatta can mean you shouldn't have done something, it makes sense that datta can mean you should have done something.

The phrase ~n-janakatta ~んじゃなかった is a contraction of ~no dewanakatta ~のではなかった.

Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 2, 最初の封神)
  • Context: the battle ends without a fight.
  • konna koto nara
    If it were to be like this...
  • go-sen mo hei wo tsurete-kuru no dewanakatta
    I shouldn't have brought [all these] five thousand soldiers.
    • mo も particle - here, it emphasizes the number 5000. It implies that maybe bringing 100 would suffice, rather than implying he shouldn't have brought any of the 5000.

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