Sunday, March 17, 2019

mou もう

In Japanese, mou もう means various things. It can mean something "already" happened; that "by now" it's somehow; we'll do it "just" a little more; we're "about" to do it "soon;" we'll do something "again;" or never "anymore;" or there's "another" of something; or it can interjection used to express frustration when you've had enough; or even to express confidence on how things are going.

An example of mou もう in Japanese.
Manga: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Chapter 4)

"Further"

The word mou もう can mean "further" when it's accompanied by numbers.

"One More Time!"

Often, this happens in the sense of doing something "one more time."
  • mou ikkai もう一回
    One time further.
    One more time.
    • Tends to be used with things that are normal to do multiple times.
    • We've done this ten times, but let's do it just one more time.
  • mou inchido もう一度
    One more time. Once more.
    • Tends to be used with things which are only done once.
    • Let's check this again.
  • A lot of times, both phrases above are interchangeable.
  • mou ippatsu もう一発
    One more shot. One more hit.
    • e.g. when training to play in the inter high school volleyball tournament, or fighting against a ninja using martial art karate punches, or battling huge space monsters with a plasma cannon.

"Again"

The word mou is often translated as "again" instead, because "one more time" is too long.
  • mou ikkai yatte-miru
    もう一回やってみる
    Let's try doing it one more time.
    Let's try doing it again.
  • mou ichido fukkatsu suru
    もう一度復活する
    To revive one more time.
    To revive again.
  • mou ichido onegai shimasu
    もう一度お願いします
    [I] ask [you for] one more time.
    One more time, please.
    Please do it again.
  • mou ichido itte kudasai
    もう一度言ってください
    Say [it] one more time, please.
    Say [it] again, please.
もう一度読ませてもらうね
Manga: BAKUMAN。 バクマン。 (Chapter 8)
  • Context: in order to become a mangaka, you must first have your manga read by a professional editor. And after he reads it, he:
  • mou ichido yomasete morau ne
    もう一度読ませてもらうね
    [I'll] have [you] let me read it one more time, okay?
    • I'll read it again. (said politely.)
  • o' おっ
    Ooh!

"Another"

The word mou もう can also mean "another." Even when it means "one more time," because "one more time" is just "another" time.
  • sara ni mou ippatsu
    さらにもう一発
    On top of that, one hit further.
    On top of that, one more hit.
    Plus another hit.
  • mou hitori iru!
    もう一人いる!
    One person further!
    One person more!
    There's another one!
    • hitori 一人
      One person. (one more person, in this case.)

もう一つ

The phrase mou hitotsu もう一つ means literally "one more," but there's a certain use of this phrase that needs to be noted.
  • mou hitotsu youji ga aru
    もう一つ用事がある
    There's "one more" affair [that I need to take care of.]
    • This is the literal meaning.

The word hitotsu 一つ can mean "one" thing someone has to say. Like you had bullets points: first, this, second, that, third, that more. Except in this case it's used more to give someone advice, or warn them about something, or even give conditions to a certain spoken deal.
  • hitotsu itte ii?
    一つ言っていい?
    Saying one [thing] is okay?
    • May I say one thing?
    • Can I tell you one thing?

So mou hitotsu もう一つ means "one more thing." It's used when it sounds like the speaker already said everything he had to say, but, nope, there's "one more thing" he has to tell to the listener.
  • mou hitotsu, chanto okaasan no iu koto wo kiite
    もう一つ、ちゃんとお母さんの言うことを聞いて
    One more thing: properly listen to what [your] mother says.
    • Listen to your mom!

One More Thing!
Cartoon: Jackie Chan Adventures (Episode 4)
  • Pic unrelated.
    • Jackie Chan is from Hong Kong, by the way, not Japan.
    • He's not Jackie-chan. He's Jackie Chan. That's his name.

Variants of this phrase include:
  • ato mou hitotsu
    あともう一つ
    One more thing remains.
  • sore to mou hitotsu
    それともう一つ
    That and one more thing.
  • sore ni mou hitotsu
    それにもう一つ
    That and one more thing.
    • ni
      Sometimes means "and" when you're forming a set of things by adding one thing to another.
  • soshite mou hitotsu
    そしてもう一つ
    And then one more thing.

"Just One More"

The word mou もう can also mean "just one more." That is, it's also used to refer to the amount remaining in order to achieve something, or until something happens. For example:
  • ato mou ippo!!
    あともう一歩!!
    After [this], one step more!!
    • And then we'll reach there!!
    • This can be a literal "step," as in walking distance, but it often means a figurative step. You're "almost there" and you'd need just one more thing to get there.
    • Often used in frustration in anime:
    • ato mou ippo nanoni!
      あともう一歩なのに!
      Even though [I just need] one more step after [this]!
      (I can't reach there! Why!!!! Oh, Kamisama, why!!!)
  • ato mou chotto dake
    あともうちょっとだけ
    After [this], just a little bit more.
    • Let me play this game for just a little bit more!

"Already"

When mou もう is in a sentence in the past, it becomes an adverb meaning something has "already" happened, or something is already in a given state.
  • mou hajimatta
    もう始まった
    It started already.
  • mou owatta
    もう終わった
    It ended already.
  • kare wa mou kaetta
    彼はもう帰った
    He already went home.

"Now"

It's important to note that the way mou もう is used in Japanese is slightly different from how "already" is used in English.

When "already" is used in English, it's to refer to something that was expected to be in the process of becoming something else, and that process "already" started or concluded.
  • It was cooking.
    • It's already done cooking.
  • It was in the freezer.
    • It already froze.
  • I though it was going to rain.
    • It's already raining.

When mou もう is used in Japanese, it doesn't refer to a process, but the way things ended up being right "now." It looks similar because something that finished freezing ends up being frozen right now. For example:
  • yameru やめる
    To stop [doing something].
    • tomeru 止める
      To stop [moving].
  • mou yameta もうやめた
    I stopped already.
    By now I'm not doing that anymore.
  • mou yamete もうやめて
    Stop already.
    By now, you've done enough, haven't you? You should stop.

However, sometimes you'll encounter instances where "already" would have a different meaning in English than mou has in Japanese. In such cases, the English adverb "now" is closer to the literal meaning of mou, although it will sound off in English. For example:
  • dame da 駄目だ
    It's no good.
    • It doesn't work.
    • I mean, I tried, but, nope, doesn't work. Must be broken or something.
  • mou dame da
    もう駄目だ
    It's "already" no good.
    It's no good "already."
    • Using "already" in English sounds like we were expecting it to become "no good," which isn't the case.
    • "By now it's no good."
    • Would be a more literal translation, but it sounds weird
もう大丈夫だ 少年!!私が来た!
Manga: Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア
  • Context: a hero shows up out of nowhere to save the day. Totally unexpected.
  • mou daijoubu da
    shounen!!

    もう大丈夫だ 少年!!
    It's alright now, boy!!
  • watashi ga kita
    私が来た!
    I came! (literally.)
    • I'm here!

"Already So Soon?"

In some cases, mou もう has the nuance of being surprised something has already happened so soon.
  • mou maketa?!
    もう負けた?!
    Already lost?! (a fight.)
    • Wow, you're weak!
  • mou shukudai yatta?
    もう宿題やった?
    Already did the homework?
    • Wow, you're a genius!

"Too Late"

In some cases, mou もう has the nuance of it being "too late" to do something already. It's futile, hopeless, there's nothing you can do.
  • kare wa mou shinda
    彼はもう死んだ
    About he: by now, died.
    He died already.
  • mou te-okure da
    もう手遅れだ
    It's already too late.
    • te
      Hand. (literally.)
      Move. (in chess, etc.)
    • te wo utsu 手を打つ
      To deal a hand. To make a strategic move.
    • okure 遅れ
      Delay. Lateness.
    • okureru 遅れる
      To be late for something.
    • It's too late to deal any strategic move.
    • There's nothing we can do anymore.
おまえはもう死んでる・・・・・・・・・ なにィ~~!?
Manga: Fist of the North Star, Hokuto no Ken 北斗の拳 (Chapter 1)

"Anymore"

When mou もう is in a negative sentence, it can add an "anymore" to the English translation. For example:
  • mou nanimo dekinai
    もう何も出来ない
    By now, can't do anything.
    • It's already hopeless.
    • Nothing can be done anymore.
  • mou shimasen kara yurushite kudasai
    もうしませんから許してください
    [I] won't do [it] anymore, so please forgive me.
    • yurusu 許す
      To allow. To permit.
      To forgive.
  • mou kodomo dewanai
    もう子供ではない
    By now: not a child.
    • You're not a child anymore.
  • sensou wa mou gomen da
    戦争はもうごめんだ
    About war: by now, excuse [me from doing it].
    • I don't want war anymore.
    • I'm fed up about with war already.
    • gomen ごめん
      Sorry.
      Not wanting (to do something). Being fed up with something.
  • mou kore ijou taberarenai
    もうこれ以上食べられない
    Already not able to eat more than this.
    • I can't eat any more than this!
例えばシノちゃんの好きな人が巨乳好きの場合努力する余地があるんでしょ?でも私の好きな人が貧乳好きな場合もうどうにもならないよ
Manga: Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 (Chapter 42)
  • Context: Shichijou Aria 七条アリア explains to Amakusa Shino 天草シノ the woes of having big oppai.
  • tatoeba Shino-chan no
    suki-na hito ga kyonyuu-zuki no
    baai

    例えばシノちゃんの好き人が巨乳好きの場合
    For example, if the person you like likes big breasts.
  • doryoku suru yochi ga aru-n-desho?
    努力する余地があるんでしょ?
    There's still room [for you] to do something about it, right?
    • Just grow bigger breasts!
  • demo watashi no suki-na hito ga hinnyuu-zuki na baai
    でも私の好きな人が貧乳好きな場合
    But if the person I like likes small breasts.
  • mou dou nimo naranai yo
    もうどうにもならないよ
    Already won't become anyhow.
    • Won't take any shape. Won't happen.
    • It's already hopeless. Futile.
    • There's nothing I can do about it.

これでもう

Sometimes, mou もう appears together with kore de これで that means "with this." For example:
  • kore de mou owari da!
    これでもう終わりだ!
    With this, now it's the end!
    • With this attack, it's over! GIVE UP!!!

もう二度と会えない

The phrase mou nido-to aenai もう二度と会えない means "to never be able to meet again." In order to understand this, we'll have to work our way up through similar, but simpler, phrases:
  • ichido au
    一度会う
    To meet one time.
  • mou ichido au
    もう一度会う
    To meet once again.
  • mou ichido au tame ni
    もう一度会うために
    For the purpose [that is] to meet once again.
    In order to meet once again.
  • mou ichido aeru
    もう一度会える
    To be able to meet once again.
    • I can meet her once again!
  • mou ichido aenai
    もう一度会えない
    To not be able to meet once again.
    • To not be able to meet one time more.
    • To not be able to meet anymore.
  • nido-to aenai
    二度と会えない
    To not be able to meet two times.
    • To not be able to meet a second time.
    • To not be able to meet anymore.
    • To not be able to meet ever again.
  • mou nido-to aenai
    もう二度と会えない
    By now, to not be able to meet ever again.
    • From now on, we'll never be able meet.
    • We'll never be able to meet anymore.
    • We'll never be able to meet again.

"Soon"

Sometimes, mou もう can mean "soon" instead of "already." Which sounds honestly confusing, as "already" means something happened in the past, but "soon" means it will happen in the future.

Fortunately, the distinction is as obvious as the difference between "soon" and "already" mentioned above: when the verb of the sentence is past form, mou means "already," when it's non-past, mou means "soon."

For example:
  • mou owatta もう終わった
    Already ended.
  • mou owaru もう終わる
    Will end soon.

Reminder: Japanese verbs have two basic times: past and non-past. The non-past isn't limited to present, "ends soon," it can also be future: "will end soon."

"Almost"

Sometimes, mou もう is translated as "almost" or "about" instead of "soon." It doesn't change the meaning of the phrase. For example:
  • musuko wa mou sotsugyou suru
    息子はもう卒業する
    About [my] son: soon, [he'll] graduate.
    • My son will graduate soon.
    • My son is almost graduating.
    • My son is about to graduate.

"Already Soon"

There are a number of adverbs that mean "soon" or "soon enough" or something along those lines that can be combined with mou もう.

In such cases, mou doesn't mean "soon," since the other adverb already means "soon" by itself. Instead, mou has the "already" meaning.

The speaker is realizing "now" "soon" something will happen. This ends up intensifying the adverb, so it sounds like "very soon" instead of "soon."

もうすぐ

For example, sugu すぐ means "immediately" by itself. When combined with mou, the phrase mou sugu もうすぐ means something will happen "very soon," or "shortly."
  • sugu sotsugyou suru
    すぐ卒業する
    To graduate immediately.
    • Will graduate ASAP.
  • mou sugu sotsugyou suru
    もうすぐ卒業する
    To graduate very soon.
    To graduate shortly.
    • Our graduation is right around the corner.

もうじき

The phrase mou jiki もうじき is practically synonymous with mou sugu もうすぐ. If there's a difference, it's that mou jiki isn't as urgent as mou sugu, and that mou sugu is more common than mou jiki. [「もうすぐ」と「もうじき」は 意味合いが違うのでしょうか? - detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp, accessed 2019-03-18]
  • jiki ni sotsugyou suru
    じきに卒業する
    To graduate soon.
  • mou jiki sotsugyou suru
    もうじき卒業する
    To graduate very soon.

もうそろそろ

The phrase mou sorosoro もうそろそろ has a similar meaning. A slight difference is that sorosoro そろそろ a mimetic word and its meaning is closer to "about to."
  • sorosoro sutsygou suru
    そろそろ卒業する
    [It's] about [time for you] to graduate.
  • mou sorosoro sotsugyou suru
    もうそろそろ卒業する
    [It's] right about [time for you] to graduate.

Interjection

The word mou もう can also be used as an interjection, in not one, but in two completely different ways. The first way it's used with an emotion of frustration, when you've had enough. The second one is used with an emotion of confidence, specially when assuring someone of something.

ああもう!

The interjection mou もう used in frustration is a lot more common in manga, so let's start with that.

It's also spelled moo もー sometimes.

One way it's used is when you're frustrated because your efforts seem futile, or any further effort will be futile. You're giving up. No point trying. You've already tried as much as you could, but nope. That won't work!

あーもうやめやめ!
Manga: School Rumble (Chapter 16)
  • aa mou
    yame yame!

    あーもうやめやめ!
    Ah, [that's enough! I give up!]
    • yameru やめる
      To give up.

Another way it's used is when you're frustrated because of what someone else is doing. Your patience is over the limit. You're fed up with something. No matter how many times you go over something, they keep making the same mistake. And so on. You can't handle it anymore.

I mean, "come on!"

・・・オレ なんかマズイ事言った? あ~~もうっ
Manga: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Chapter 4)
  • Context: Hikaru says something bad.
  • ...ore, nanka mazui koto itta?
    ・・・オレ なんかマズイ事言った?
    ...did I say something bad?
  • a~~ mou'
    あ~~もう
    *reconsiders life choices*
    • "Ah, come on!"
    • What you doing?!
    • Stahp!
    • Notto disu agen!

Sometimes mou appears in phrases that have similar effects, like:
  • mou takusan da!
    もうたくさんだ!
    It's already a lot!
    • I've had enough!
  • mou ii!
    もういい!
    Now it's good!
    • Now it's fine!
    • I don't need that anymore!
    • I don't care about that anymore!
  • mou iya da!
    もう嫌だ!
    By now, it's unwanted!
    • I don't want this anymore!
    • I can't deal with this anymore!

もう〇〇ったら

When frustrated with people, mou もう sometimes comes together with ttara ったら after the person's name or title. For example:
  • mou otousan-ttara
    もうお父さんったら

The phrase above sounds like someone is frustrated, or mad, at something their "father," otousan お父さん, has done or said.

それはもう!

The word mou もう has another interjectory use: to express amazement. In this case it works more like an intensifier, and shares the "already" or "by now" meaning. It's particularly found together with the pronouns kore, sore and are.

It's a bit hard to explain because it often relies on how the phrase is said, rather than what words are in the phrase.

For example, take the following phrase:
  • sore wa mou owatta
    それはもう終わった
    That already ended.

That's just the same basic "already" meaning we saw before. It's not an interjection.

Now, take the following phrase:
  • sore wa mou... BACCHIRI desu!
    それはもう・・・ばっちりです!
    That's already... PERFECTLY!

In this case we have an interjection. The sore wa mou part doesn't mean "that's already" or anything like that. It's merely a phrase used to express confidence. The speaker is assuring the listener that whatever is it, it was PERFECT. Exact. Just as one would want. Not even one little thing off. Nope. Not at all.

淳兄の高校生やったころはそりゃもう格好よかなんてもんじゃなかったですよ ケンカもめっぽう強かし頭もよかし
Manga: Kids on the Slope, Sakamichi no Apollon 坂道のアポロン (Chapter 18)
  • Context: the speaker confidently talks about how amazing Jun was.
  • Jun-nii no koukousei yatta koro wa
    淳兄の高校生やったころは
    Around the time brother Jun [was] a high school student.
  • sorya mou
    そりゃもう
    "That [was] already"
    • Relaxed pronunciation of:
    • sore wa mou それはもう
  • kakkou yoka nante mon janakatta desu yo
    格好よかなんてもんじゃなかったですよ
    Not something [you'd call just] cool.
  • kenka mo meppou tsuyokashi
    ケンカもめっぽう強かし
    In fighting, too, [he was] extremely strong.
    • tsuyoka 強か
      tsuyoi 強い
      Strong.
  • atama mo yokashi
    頭もよかし
    [He was also smart.]

vs. も

Although similar, mou もう and mo も are different things. That mo も is often a particle, which can mean "also" sometimes.

It's a bit confusing because if you have a noun, then "noun mo" means "also noun" in the sense of "and noun." But when you have "mou noun" it means "plus noun" in the sense of there's a number of noun left or that you want more of. For example:
  • kore mo hoshii
    これほしい
    This, too, is wanted.
    I also want this.
    And I want this too.
  • mou ichi-kire hoshii
    もう一切れほしい
    One slice further is wanted.
    I want one more slice.
    I want another slice.

One exception is that mou もう can be shortened to just mo も. This seldom happens so it's not something you'll have to worry about.

嬢ちゃん!あんたもちょっとはあの子を見習いな。
Manga: Black Lagoon (Chapter 9)
  • jouchan!
    嬢ちゃん!
    [Hey]!
  • anta mo
    chotto wa
    ano ko wo
    minarai na.

    あんたちょっとはあの子を見習いな。
    You [should] learn a little more [from] that [boy].
    • Here, mo chotto is an abbreviation of mou chotto, " a little more."
    • anta あんた
      anata あなた
      You.
    • wo mi-narau を見習う
      To see and learn from. (to learn something by watching how someone else does it.)

Further Reading

See Also

References

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