4 different actual ways to say “Really ?” in Japanese

You can say “Really ?” to express your surprise or doubt. Normally you translate “Really ?” into “Hontōni ?”/「本当ほんとうに?」 in Japanese. We have other ways to say it in Japanese depending on the situation. I will introduce them.

1. Hontōni ?/本当ほんとうに?

It’s a casual expression. You can also say “Hontodesuka ?”/「本当ほんとうですか?」as a polite expression and “Honto ?”/「本当ほんとう?」as a casual expression. You can express strong surprise and doubt with these words. You can say “Hontodesuka ?”/「本当ほんとうですか?」to your bosses or elderly colleagues in the workplace or someone whom you don’t know. In daily life we often use these expressions and hear them. These are natural and soft expressions.

2. Majide ?/まじで?

You can also just say “Maji ?”/「まじ?」. These are casual expressions. Young people very often use these expressions in private although these are natural. I don’t recommend that you say them to your bosses or elderly colleagues in the workplace or someone whom you don’t know.

3. Honki ?/本気ほんき?

You can also “Honkidesuka ?”/「本気ほんきですか?」as a polite expression. These words can express strong doubt. When we would like to ask whether people really try to do something, we can say them to the people, but the people may feel harsh. We don’t use them very often although in daily life in a little bit serious situation we say them and hear them.

4. Usō ?/うそー?

This word can express strong surprise and it’s a casual expression. It’s better that you don’t say it to your bosses or elderly colleagues in the workplace or someone whom you don’t know.

5. Ē/えー?

You can also just say “E ?”/「え?」. These words can also express strong surprise. If you say “E ?”/「え?」to someone, he may feel it’s a cold expression depending on the way of saying. So you should try not to say it to someone whom you don’t know.

Summary

“Hontodesuka ?”/「本当ほんとうですか?」means strong surprise and doubt. This is a natural and soft expression. Young people often say “Maji ?”/「まじ?」in private. “Honki ?”/「本気ほんき?」means strong doubt and may give people a little harsh impression. “Usō ?”/「うそー?」and “Ē”/「えー?」mean strong surprise. You can just say “E ?”/「え?」, but it may give people a cool expression depending on the way of saying.

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