Sunday, March 17, 2019


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.

・・・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, 許せない暴言)


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
    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 ichido
    One more time. Once more.
    • Tends to be used with things which are only done once.
    • Let's check this again.

Often, the phrases above are interchangeable.

  • mou ippatsu
    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.


The word mou is often translated as "again" instead, because "one more time" is too long.

  • mou ikkai yatte-miru
    Let's try doing it one more time.
    Let's try doing it again.
  • mou ichido fukkatsu suru
    To revive one more time.
    To revive again.
  • mou ichido onegai shimasu
    [I] ask [you for] one more time.
    One more time, please.
    Please do it again.
  • mou ichido itte kudasai
    Say [it] one more time, please.
    Say [it] again, please.
もう一度読ませてもらうね おっ
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
    [I'll] have [you] let me read it one more time, okay?
    • I'll read it again. (said politely.)
  • o'


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
    On top of that, one hit further.
    On top of that, one more hit.
    Plus another hit.
  • mou hitori iru!
    One person further!
    One person more!
    There's another one!
    • hitori
      One person. (one more person, in this case.)


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
    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?
    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
    One more thing: properly listen to what [your] mother says.
    • Listen to your mom!
One more thing!
Character: Uncle Chan
Anime: 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
    One more thing remains.
  • sore to mou hitotsu
    That and one more thing.
  • sore ni mou hitotsu
    That and one more thing.
    • ni に particle
      Sometimes means "and" when you're forming a set of things by adding one thing to another.
  • soshite mou hitotsu
    And then one more thing.

Comparative Adjectives

The word mou もう can combine with an adjective to form a comparative adjective, which sometimes translates to English as the suffix "-er." For example:

  • omoi
  • mou ichi-kiro omoi
    One kilogram more heavy.
    One kilogram heavier.

This works not only with comparatives that express increases but also with comparatives that express decreases, which sounds a bit weird at first, compared to the other usage of mou. Observe:

  • mou go-senchi mijikakattara...
    If [it] were five centimeters more short...
    If [it] were five centimeters shorter...
    • Even though we're talking about shorter, rather than longer, we can still use mou here.
あーあ・・・ あかりがもう一年早く生まれてたら同学生だったのに 赤座あかり(13)
Manga: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Chapter 1, 永遠はあるらしいよ・・・ならば奇跡は!?)
  • Context: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, a 13 years old girl, regrets not being 14 years old like her friends, because they started middle school one year before her, so she spent a whole year without going to school with them.
  • aaa...
    Aah... (sigh.)
  • Akari ga {mou ichinen hayaku} umaretetara dougakunen datta noni
    If Akari had been born {one year sooner} [we] would have been in the same year of school.
    (counterfactual conditional.)
  • Akaza Akari (juu-san)
    Akaza Akari (thirteen).
    • In Japanese, a number inside parentheses after someone's name typically indicates their age.
    • The family name (Akaza) comes before the given name (Akari), opposite to the name ordering in America, for example.

In the example above, mou ichinen hayaku means, literally, "one year more soon," in other words, "one year sooner."

"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!!
    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!
      Even though [I just need] one more step after [this]!
      (I can't reach there! Why!!!! Oh, Kamisama, why!!!)
  • ato mou chotto dake
    After [this], just a little bit more.
    • Let me play this game for just a little bit more!


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
    It started already.
  • mou owatta
    It ended already.
  • kare wa mou kaetta
    He already went home.


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
    To stop [doing something].
    • tomeru
      To stop [moving].
  • mou yameta
    I stopped already.
    By now I'm not doing that anymore.
  • mou yamete
    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

    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
    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 (Chapter 1, 緑谷出久︰オリジン)
  • Context: a hero shows up out of nowhere to save the day. Totally unexpected.
  • mou daijoubu da

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

"Already Enough"

The word can also be used to say something is enough in various ways.

  • mou juubun
    It's enough now.
    It's already enough.

In particular, mou ii もういい and mou __-te-ii もう〇〇ていい are often used in this case.

  • mou nanimo iwanakute ii
    Now not saying anything is okay.
    Already not saying anything is okay.
    [You] don't have to say anything anymore.
    [You] have already said enough.
ちょっ・・・姉上ェ なんでそこまで・・・ もういいじゃないか ねェ!! 姉上!!
Manga: Gintama 銀魂 (Chapter 1, 天然パーマに悪い奴はいない)
  • cho'... aneuee
    Wai... sister.
  • nande soko made...
    Why [do you go so far].
    • Why would you do so much?
  • mou ii janai ka, nee!!
    もういいじゃないか ねェ!!
    It's [enough] already, isn't it? Right?!!
  • aneue!!


"Already So Soon?"

In some cases, mou もう has the nuance of being surprised something has already happened so soon.

  • mou maketa?!
    Already lost?! (a fight.)
    • Wow, you're weak!
  • mou shukudai yatta?
    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
    About he: by now, died.
    He died already.
  • mou te-okure da
    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, 心の叫びの巻)
俺はね、もう死んでるんですよ。 あんたがそう言った。
Manga: Black Lagoon (Chapter 1, Chase for ring-ding ships)
  • Context: Rock refuses to go back to his old life.
  • ore wa ne, mou shinderu-n-desu yo.
    I, you see, am already dead.
  • anta ga sou itta.
    You said so.


When mou もう is in a negative sentence, it can add an "anymore" to the English translation. For example:

  • mou nanimo dekinai
    By now, can't do anything.
    • It's already hopeless.
    • Nothing can be done anymore.
  • mou shimasen kara yurushite kudasai
    [I] won't do [it] anymore, so please forgive me.
    • yurusu
      To allow. To permit.
      To forgive.
  • mou kodomo dewanai
    By now: not a child.
    • You're not a child anymore.
  • sensou wa mou gomen da
    About war: by now, excuse [me from doing it].
    • I don't want war anymore.
    • I'm fed up about with war already.
    • gomen
      Not wanting (to do something). Being fed up with something.
  • mou kore ijou taberarenai
    Already not able to eat more than this.
    • I can't eat any more than this!
『異世界』からこの『セフィーロ』に『召喚』された者は 自らの意思ではもう元の世界へは戻れん
Manga: Magic Knight Rayearth, 魔法騎士レイアース (Volume 1)
  • Context: three girls have been summoned into a world called Cephiro.
  • {"isekai" kara
    kono "Sefiiro" ni
    "shoukan" sareta} mono wa
    mizukara no ishi dewa
    mou moto no sekai ewa
    Someone [who] {has been "summoned" from "another world" into this "Cephiro"} can't any longer by [their] own will return to [their] former world.
    • In other words: after being summoned, they can no longer return, at least not without the help of someone else.
たと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 (Volume 3, Chapter 42, Page 58, おっぱいの美学)
  • 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

    For example, if the person you like likes big breasts.
  • doryoku suru yochi ga aru-n-desho?
    There's still room [for you] to do something about it, right?
    • Just grow bigger breasts!
  • demo watashi no suki-na hito ga hin'nyuu-zuki na baai
    But if the person I like likes small breasts.
  • mou dou nimo naranai yo
    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.


Sometimes, mou もう appears together with kore de これで that means "with this." For example:

  • kore de mou owari da!
    With this, now it's the end!
    • With this attack, it's over! GIVE UP!!!


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
    To meet one time.
  • mou ichido au
    To meet once again.
  • mou ichido au tame ni
    For the purpose [that is] to meet once again.
    In order to meet once again.
  • mou ichido aeru
    To be able to meet once again.
    • I can meet her once again!
  • mou ichido aenai
    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
    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
    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.


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
    Already ended.
  • mou owaru
    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."


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
    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."


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
    To graduate immediately.
    • Will graduate ASAP.
  • mou sugu sotsugyou suru
    To graduate very soon.
    To graduate shortly.
    • Our graduation is right around the corner.


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? -, accessed 2019-03-18]

  • jiki ni sotsugyou suru
    To graduate soon.
  • mou jiki sotsugyou suru
    To graduate very soon.


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
    [It's] about [time for you] to graduate.
  • mou sorosoro sotsugyou suru
    [It's] right about [time for you] to graduate.


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.


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, スクールランブル (Chapter 16, Wild Party)
  • aa mou
    yame yame!

    Ah, [that's enough! I give up!]
    • yameru
      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, 許せない暴言)
  • Context: Hikaru ヒカル 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'
    *reconsiders life choices*
    • "Ah, come on!"
    • What you doing?!
    • Stahp!
    • Notto disu agen!
もォ~~バカァ!! ワリィワリィ また今度なっ!
Manga: Holy Land, ホーリーランド (Chapter 6)
  • Context: guys leave girls behind because the plot is more important.
  • moo~~~~
    Come on!
  • bakaa!!
    [You] idiot!!
  • warii warii
    [Sorry, sorry].
  • mata kondo na'!
    [See ya, later, 'kay!]
    • kondo
      Next time. (literally "this time." I'm not even joking. It means this time but means next time. This is just your friendly occasional reminder that Japanese hates you.)

Sometimes mou appears in phrases that have similar effects, like:

  • mou takusan da!
    It's already a lot!
    • I've had enough!
  • mou ii!
    Now it's good!
    • Now it's fine!
    • I don't need that anymore!
    • I don't care about that anymore!
  • mou iya da!
    By now, it's unwanted!
    • I don't want this anymore!
    • I can't deal with this anymore!


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

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


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
    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!
    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
    Around the time brother Jun [was] a high school student.
  • sorya mou
    "That [was] already"
  • kakkou yoka nante mon janakatta desu yo
    Not something [you'd call just] cool.
  • kenka mo meppou tsuyokashi
    In fighting, too, [he was] extremely strong.
    • tsuyoka 強か
      tsuyoi 強い
  • atama mo yokashi
    [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
    This, too, is wanted.
    I also want this.
    And I want this too.
  • mou ichi-kire hoshii
    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.

Manga: Black Lagoon (Chapter 9, Calm Down, Two Men - Part 1)
  • jouchan!
  • anta mo
    chotto wa
    ano ko wo
    minarai na.

    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
    • wo mi-narau を見習う
      To see and learn from. (to learn something by watching how someone else does it.)


  1. もうの意味 - デジタル大辞泉 via, accessed 2019-03-18.
  2. もう(モウ)とは - 大辞林 第三版 via, accessed 2019-03-18.

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