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Intermediate Japanese Words

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So, you’ve already mastered the beginner level in Japanese? Congratulations! That means you know how to write Hiragana, Katakana, and the basic Kanji, as well as the basic grammar rules. Now you’re ready to level up to intermediate Japanese! 

At some point during your studies, you probably heard about the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test). This is a standardized test that evaluates the Japanese-language proficiency of non-native speakers, including their language knowledge (vocabulary/grammar), reading ability, and listening ability. Level N3 is equivalent to the intermediate level, and setting a goal for yourself to pass this level would be a good source of motivation to help you keep up your studies.

You faced the first challenge when you started learning Japanese, a language with a totally new set of characters and grammar rules from English. However, the beginner level is rewarding in that you can easily see your progress the more you study. On the other hand, the intermediate level is when things start getting hard—you need continuous effort and patience to make meaningful advances at this stage. Although the progress may seem very slow, you’ll steadily move forward as long as you don’t give up!

In this article, we’ll introduce a list of frequently used intermediate Japanese words, including larger numbers, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even conjunctions and Japanese particles. Let’s start the journey toward conquering the next level here at JapanesePod101.com!

A Silhouette of One Person Helping Another Climb Up a Mountain

The Japanese intermediate level gets harder, but you can still have fun learning with JapanesePod101.com.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Larger Numbers
  2. Nouns – 名詞 (Meishi)
  3. Verbs – 動詞 (Dōshi)
  4. Adjectives – 形容詞 (Keiyōshi)
  5. Adverbs – 副詞 (Fukushi)
  6. Conjunctions – 接続詞 (Setsuzokushi)
  7. Auxiliary Words and Particles – 助詞 (Joshi)
  8. Conclusion

1. Larger Numbers 

Once you know the basic Japanese numbers, counting to larger numbers is fairly simple. We can easily express these numbers with Kanji using relatively few digits. 

Keep in mind, however, that we group larger numbers by every 10,000 (rather than every 1,000 like in Western counting). That said, when we do write the Arabic numbers in Japan, it’s common to use commas for every thousand just like it’s done in the West. 

Arabic NumberKanji HiraganaReading
100ひゃくhyaku
1,000せん sen
10,000まんman
100,000十万じゅうまん jū-man
1,000,000百万ひゃくまん hyaku-man
10,000,000千万せんまん sen-man
100,000,000おくoku
1,000,000,000十億じゅうおくjū-oku
10,000,000,000百億ひゃくおくhyaku-oku
100,000,000,000千億せんおくsen-oku
1,000,000,000,000ちょうchō

Number-related Vocabulary

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
number数字すうじsūji
calculation計算けいさんkeisan
arithmetic算数さんすうsansū
mathematics数学すうがくsūgaku
addition足し算たしざんtashizan
subtraction引き算ひきざんhikizan
multiplication掛け算かけざんkakezan
division割り算わりざんwarizan

Examples:

  • 私のいとこは宝くじで2億円を当てました。
    Watashi no itoko wa takarakuji de ni-oku-en o atemashita.
    “My cousin won 200 million Yen in the lottery.”
  • 2020年の日本の国家予算は約103兆円です。
    Ni-sen ni-jū-nen no Nihon no kokka yosan wa yaku hyaku san-chō-en desu.
    “Japan’s national budget in 2020 was around 103 trillion Yen.”
  • 私は毎日その日の利益を計算します。 
    Watashi wa mainichi sono hi no rieki o keisan shimasu.
    “I calculate the profit for the day every day.”

A Calculator Showing 1,000,000

We can easily express larger numbers with Kanji.

2. Nouns – 名詞 (Meishi)

Our next set of intermediate Japanese vocabulary words will cover the most practical nouns in a range of categories. At this stage in your learning journey, picking up as many new nouns as possible will help you better express yourself and allow you to hold conversations on a greater number of topics. 

Time

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
sunrise日の出ひのでhinode
sunset日没にちぼつnichibotsu
instant (a very short moment)一瞬いっしゅんisshun
a whole life / lifetime /  for life一生 いっしょうisshō
a time / while / one time一時 いちじichiji
a short period or term短期たんきtanki
a medium-length period or term中期ちゅうきchūki
a long period or term長期 ちょうきchōki
a school term / semester学期 がっきgakki
this time今回こんかいkonkai
hereafter / from now on / onward今後 こんごkongo

Examples:

  • 夏は日の出が早く、日没が遅い。
    Natsu wa hinode ga hayaku, nichibotsu ga osoi.
    “In summer, the sunrise (time) is early and the sunset (time) is late.”
  • 彼は短期目標を設定しました。
    Kare wa tanki mokuhyō o settei shimashita.
    “He has set a short-term goal.”
  • 私は今後一切タバコを吸いません。 
    Watashi wa kongo issai tabako o suimasen.
    “I will never smoke cigarettes from now on.”

2. People

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
individual個人こじんkojin
group 集団しゅうだんshūdan
citizen市民しみんshimin
people (of a country) or  nation国民こくみんkokumin
man / boy / male男子 だんしdanshi
woman / girl / female女子 じょしjoshi
infant幼児ようじyōji
young man / young people / youth青年せいねんseinen
elderly年配ねんぱいnenpai
old person / the aged老人ろうじんrōjin
stranger / others他人たにんtanin
colleague / coworker同僚どうりょうdōryō
boss / superior上司じょうしjōshi
subordinate部下ぶかbuka
employee / staff社員しゃいんshain
president / head (of a company)社長しゃちょうshachō

Examples:

  • 国民の三大義務は、教育、労働、納税です。
    Kokumin no sandai gimu wa, kyōiku, rōdō, nōzei desu.
    “The three major duties of the people in Japan are education, labor, and paying taxes.”
  • あの青年は老人介護施設で働いています。
    Ano seinen wa rōjin kaigo shisetsu de hataraite imasu.
    “That young man works at a nursing home for the elderly.”
  • 私の目標は起業して社長になることです。 
    Watashi no mokuhyō wa kigyō shite shachō ni naru koto desu.
    “My goal is to start a business and become president.”

To learn more work-related vocabulary words with audio, we recommend you check out our wordlists Jobs / Work and Workplace.

Four Colleagues Chatting with Each Other at Work

昼休みに同僚と雑談する (hiruyasumi ni dōryō to zatsudan suru)
“chat with colleagues during lunch break”

3. Other Nouns

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
start / beginning 開始かいしkaishi
end / close / termination終了しゅうりょうshūryō
stop / suspension停止ていしteishi
base / fundament / standard基本きほんkihon
basis / foundation基礎きそkiso
(practical) application応用おうようōyō
input / entry / filling in / filling out記入きにゅうkinyū
article記事きじkiji
right 権利けんりkenri
rules / regulations規則きそくkisoku
law法律ほうりつhōritsu
accounting会計かいけいkaikei
business / commerce商売しょうばいshōbai
profit利益りえきrieki
product製品せいひんseihin
lack / shortage / deficiency不足ふそくfusoku
income収入しゅうにゅうshūnyū
documents書類しょるいshorui
cooperation / collaboration協力きょうりょくkyōryoku
satisfaction / contentment満足まんぞくmanzoku
dissatisfaction不満ふまんfuman

Examples:

  • 開始と終了の時間に、ベルが鳴ります。
    Kaishi to shūryō no jikan ni, beru ga narimasu.
    “The bell rings at the start and end times.”
  • 法律に基づき、18歳以上の国民は投票する権利があります。
    Hōritsu ni motozuki, jū hassai ijō no kokumin wa tōhyō suru kenri ga arimasu.
    “By law, citizens over 18 years old have the right to vote.”
  • パンデミックの影響で、衛生製品が不足しています。 
    Pandemikku no eikyō de, eisei seihin ga fusoku shite imasu.
    “Due to the influence of the pandemic, there is a shortage of hygiene products.”

Someone Writing Something Down in a Notebook

書類に記入する (shorui ni kinyū suru)
“fill out the document”

To learn more Japanese nouns, please check out Guide to the Top 100+ Japanese Nouns on our website. 

3. Verbs – 動詞 (Dōshi)

Verbs, like nouns, make up a huge chunk of any language’s vocabulary. At the beginner level, you picked up a number of useful action words and auxiliaries to get your point across—but as you approach the intermediate level, you may find yourself needing more advanced verbs to clearly express your thoughts. Below is a list to get you started.

General Verbs

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
to encounter / to meet / to come across出会うであうdeau
to remove / to undo外すはずすhazusu
to like / to be pleased with気に入るきにいるki ni iru
to fall down / to fall over転ぶころぶkorobu
to receive受け取るうけとるuketoru
to take (something) out取り出すとりだすtoridasu
to divide / to split / to separate分けるわけるwakeru
to give up諦めるあきらめるakirameru
to lose interest in / to get tired of 飽きるあきるakiru
to be enough / to be sufficient足りるたりるtariru
to remain / to be in excess余るあまるamaru
to appear / to show up / to turn up現れるあらわれるarawareru
to express / to show表すあらわすarawasu
to treat / to handle / to deal with扱うあつかうatsukau
to put together / to combine / to add to / to match合わせるあわせるawaseru
to deposit / to consign / to entrust預けるあずけるazukeru
to touch触れるふれるfureru
to shake / to tremble / to vibrate / to shudder / to shiver震えるふるえるfurueru
to prevent / to guard against防ぐふせぐfusegu
to wear (trousers, skirt, shoes) / to put on履くはくhaku
to discuss話し合うはなしあうhanashiau
to separate / to keep apart / to isolate離すはなすhanasu
to release / to free / to let go放すはなすhanasu
to decrease減るへるheru
to pull引くひくhiku
to celebrate祝ういわうiwau
to dislike嫌がるいやがるiyagaru
to be concerned with / to engage in / to be related to関わるかかわるkakawaru
to hide隠すかくすkakusu 
to earn / to make money稼ぐかせぐkasegu
to pile up / to put on top of one another重ねるかさねるkasaneru
to shine / to sparkle輝くかがやくkagayaku
to repeat繰り返すくりかえすkurikaesu
to stretch / to get longer / to grow伸びるのびるnobiru
to remove / to get rid of / to exclude除くのぞくnozoku

Examples:

  • 諦めたらそこで試合は終了です。
    Akirametara soko de shiai wa shūryō desu.
    “If you give up, the game ends there.”
  • あなたに預けた書類を受け取りに来ました。
    Anata ni azuketa shorui o uketori ni kimashita.
    “I came to pick up the documents I entrusted to you.”
  • 彼は彼女に関わることを嫌がった。 
    Kare wa kanojo ni kakawaru koto o iyagatta.
    “He disliked getting involved with her.”

[ Noun + する (suru) ] Verbs 

This type of Japanese verb is formed by using this pattern: noun + する (suru). You may remember that する (suru) means “do,” and in this case, we use it to create verbs. For example: 

  • 期待する (kitai suru) or “to expect” = 期待 (kitai) “expectation” + する (suru) “do” 

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
to go out外出するがいしゅつするgaishutsu suru
to make (an) effort努力するどりょくするdoryoku suru
to memorize / to store data記憶するきおくするkioku suru
to expect / to hope to期待するきたいするkitai suru
to grow (up)成長する せいちょうするseichō suru
to lack不足するふそくするfusoku suru
to match / to coincide一致するいっちするitchi suru
to agree with / to support (a measure)賛成するさんせいするsansei suru
to oppose / to object反対するはんたいするhantai suru
to concentrate集中するしゅうちゅうするshūchū suru
to import輸入するゆにゅうするyunyū suru
to export輸出するゆしゅつするyushutsu suru
to sell販売するはんばいするhanbai suru
to zoom / to enlarge / to expand拡大するかくだいするkakudai suru
to shrink / to reduce / to diminish縮小するしゅくしょうするsyukushō suru

Examples:

  • 彼は彼女に会えることを期待して外出しました。 
    Kare wa kanojo ni aeru koto o kitai shite gaishutsu shimashita.
    “He went out hoping to see her.”
  • この会社は日本茶を海外へ輸出して、世界中で販売しています。
    Kono kaisha wa nihoncha o kaigai e yushutsu shite, sekaijū de hanbai shite imasu.
    “This company exports Japanese tea overseas and sells it all over the world.”
  • 勉強する時はテレビを消して集中しなさい。 
    Benkyō suru toki wa terebi o keshite shūchū shinasai.
    “When you study, turn off the TV and concentrate.”

To learn more about Japanese verbs, please check out our articles The 100+ Most Common Japanese Verbs and Ultimate Japanese Verb Conjugation Guide.

A Woman Studying Late at Night

努力して試験に合格 (doryoku shite shiken ni gōkaku)
“passing the exam by making an effort”

4. Adjectives – 形容詞 (Keiyōshi)

As a beginner, you probably spent most of your time memorizing nouns, verbs, and practical sentence patterns. But once you have the basics down, picking up a few common adjectives can help you enrich your conversations and add flavor to your writing. Below, we’ve listed the most useful adjectives for intermediate Japanese learners. 

i-Adjectives

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
intense / hard / violent / fierce / furious激しいはげしいhageshii
nostalgic / dear懐かしいなつかしいnatsukashii
shameful / pitiful / miserable情けないなさけないnasakenai
frightening / terrifying / fearful恐ろしいおそろしいosoroshii
persistent / insistentしつこいshitsukoi
powerful力強いちからづよいchikarazuyoi
smart / wise / clever賢いかしこいkashikoi
childlike / childish / infant幼いおさないosanai
hard / tough / painful / bitter辛いつらいtsurai
jealous / envious羨ましいうらやましいurayamashii
loose / lax緩いゆるいyurui
equal / equivalent等しいひとしいhitoshii
itchy痒いかゆいkayui
noisy騒がしいさわがしいsawagashii
funny可笑しいおかしいokashii
empty / void / fruitless空しいむなしいmunashii
refreshing / refreshed清々しいすがすがしいsugasugashii
menial / vulgar / greedy卑しいいやしいiyashii
lovely / adorable可愛らしいかわいらしいkawairashii
missed / longed for恋しいこいしいkoishii
smelly / stinky臭いくさいkusai
tight / hard / toughきついkitsui
detailed詳しいくわしいkuwashii
regretful / mortifying悔しいくやしいkuyashii
dazzling / bright眩しいまぶしいmabushii
poor貧しいまずしいmazushii
gentle / mild / quiet大人しいおとなしいotonashii
fortunately / luckily幸いさいわいsaiwai
sharp鋭いするどいsurudoi
dull / slow鈍いにぶいnibui
rough / harsh / wild荒いあらいarai

Examples:

  • 台風の影響で激しい雨が降っています。 
    Taifū no eikyō de hageshii ame ga futte imasu.
    “It is raining hard due to the typhoon.”
  • 公園で可愛らしい女の子が一人で遊んでいました。
    Kōen de kawairashii onnanoko ga hitori de asonde imashita.
    “The adorable girl was playing alone in the park.”
  • 彼は大人しいが、鋭い洞察力を持っています。 
    Kare wa otonashii ga, surudoi dōsatsuryoku o motte imasu.
    “He is quiet but has keen insight.”
The Sun Shining Brightly in a Blue Sky

太陽が眩しい。 (Taiyō ga mabushii.)
“The sun is bright.”

na-Adjectives

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
serious / earnest真面目まじめmajime
eager / zealous / ardent熱心ねっしんnesshin
advantageous有利ゆうりyūri
flat / even平らたいらtaira
troublesome / cumbersome厄介やっかいyakkai
rich / abundant / fertile豊かゆたかyutaka
luxurious贅沢ぜいたくzeitaku
slight / subtle僅かわずかwazuka
obstructive邪魔じゃまjama
obvious明らかあきらかakiraka
troublesome / annoying / unwelcome迷惑めいわくmeiwaku
troublesome / onerous / perplexing面倒めんどうmendō

Examples:

  • この箱は平らな所に置いてください。 
    Kono hako wa taira na tokoro ni oite kudasai.
    “Please place this box on a flat surface.”
  • 私は僅かな可能性があれば、希望を捨てない。
    Watashi wa wazuka na kanōsei ga areba, kibō o sutenai.
    “I will not lose hope if there is a slight possibility.”
  • 彼は明らかな間違いを犯しました。 
    Kare wa akiraka na machigai o okashimashita.
    “He made an obvious mistake.”

To learn more about Japanese adjectives, please check out our articles Learn the Top 100 Essential Japanese Adjectives and -I vs. -NA Adjectives in Japanese.

5. Adverbs – 副詞 (Fukushi)

While adjectives describe nouns, adverbs provide additional information about verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. At this stage in your learning journey, having a few Japanese adverbs up your sleeve will allow you to give more detailed descriptions of events and help your writing flow more smoothly. 

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
at once / immediately / promptly / right away早速さっそくsassoku
as … as possibleなるべくnarubeku
carelessly / thoughtlesslyうっかりukkari
probably / presumably恐らくおそらくosoraku
quite / prettyかなりkanari
approximately / about / roughlyおよそoyoso
just like / as ifまるでmarude
abruptly / suddenly急にきゅうにkyū ni
ratherむしろmushiro
kind of / sort of / fairly / reasonablyなかなかnakanaka
what is more / furthermore / moreover更にさらにsara ni
already既にすでにsude ni
for some time / for a while暫くしばらくshibaraku
surely / definitely / indeed確かにたしかにtashika ni
rather / quite a 随分ずいぶんzuibun
at one time / at once / all at once一度にいちどにichi-do ni
all / whole全てすべてsubete
desperately / frantically必死にひっしにhisshi ni
deliberately / on purposeわざとwazato
increasingly / more and more益々ますますmasumasu
one after another次々とつぎつぎとtsugitsugi to
anytime / at all timesいつでもitsu demo
before one is aware / before one knows いつの間にかいつのまにかitsunomanika
indeed / really実にじつにjitsu ni
as it isそのままsonomama
each / respectivelyそれぞれsorezore
sometimes時々ときどきtokidoki
always / at all times / constantly常につねにtsune ni
suddenly突然とつぜんtotsuzen
in/at the beginning始めにはじめにhajime ni
early / earlier / ahead of time早めにはやめにhayame ni
before long / shortly間もなくまもなくmamonaku
at least少なくともすくなくともsukunakutomo
by chance / accidentally / unintentionallyたまたまtamatama
in particular / particularly別にべつにbetsu ni
anyways / in any caseとにかくtonikaku
by all meansどうしてもdōshitemo
again / once again再びふたたびfutatabi
together共にともにtomo ni
a short while ago / a moment ago先程さきほどsakihodo

Examples:

  • なるべく早く返信してください。 
    Narubeku hayaku henshin shite kudasai.
    “Please reply as soon as possible.”q145
  • 間もなく電車が到着します。
    Mamonaku densha ga tōchaku shimasu.
    “The train will arrive shortly.”
  • 私は別にこれを欲しくない。 
    Watashi wa betsu ni kore o hoshikunai.
    “I don’t want this in particular.”

A Businesswoman Getting Lots of Creative Ideas for Work

次々と良い案が浮かぶ (tsugitsugi to ii an ga ukabu)
“come up with good ideas one after another”

6. Conjunctions – 接続詞 (Setsuzokushi)

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
finally / at last遂についにtsuini
to sum up / in short / in a wordつまりtsumari
therefore / accordingly / consequently従ってしたがってshitagatte
so / therefore / henceゆえにyueni
therefore / whereforeそれゆえにsoreyueni
and thenするとsuruto
howeverしかしながらshikashinagara
and yet / but even soそれなのにsorenanoni
nevertheless / in spite of それにも関わらずそれにもかかわらずsorenimo kakawarazu
having said thatとは言うもののとはいうもののtowa iumonono
and / as well as及びおよびoyobi
besides / moreover / alsoかつkatsu
and also / both…and並びにならびにnarabini
first / first of all最初にさいしょにsaisho ni
next / secondly次につぎにtsugi ni
at last / finally最後にさいごにsaigo ni
moreover / besides / on top of しかもshikamo
in addition加えてくわえてkuwaete
moreover / in additionその上でそのうえでsonouede
on the one hand一方いっぽうippō
conversely / contrarily逆にぎゃくにgyaku ni
while / on the other hand反面はんめんhanmen
the reason why is / becauseなぜかと言うとなぜかというとnaze ka to iu to
still / yet / evenなおnao
on the condition that…ただしtadashi
by the wayちなみにchinamini
in truth / in fact実はじつはjitsu wa
namely / that is to sayすなわちsunawachi
in short / in a word /to sum up要するにようするにyōsuruni
especially / in particular特にとくにtokuni
above all / in particularとりわけtoriwake
anyhow / in any case / either way / anywayいずれにしてもizurenishitemo
anyways / above all thingsともあれtomoare
then / if that is the caseそれではsoredewa

Examples:

  • 従って、規則によりこれは無効となります。 
    Shitagatte, kisoku ni yori kore wa mukō to narimasu.
    “Therefore, this is invalid according to regulation.”
  • レストランは12時に閉まります。なお、ラストオーダーは11時です。
    Resutoran wa jū ni-ji ni shimarimasu. Nao, rasuto ōdā wa jū ichi-ji desu.
    “The restaurant closes at twelve. Yet, the last order is at eleven.”
  • いずれにしても、納期は守ってください。 
    Izurenishitemo, nōki wa mamotte kudasai.
    “In any case, please keep the delivery date.”

Coworkers Pointing to and Examining Charts and Graphs

いずれにしても、来月は赤字になりそうです。
Izurenishitemo, raigetsu wa akaji ni narisō desu.
“In any case, it looks like it will be in the red next month.”

7. Auxiliary Words and Particles – 助詞 (Joshi)

Japanese particles, or 助詞 (joshi), are suffixes or short words that follow a modified noun, verb, adjective, or sentence. Particles play a very important role in Japanese grammar because even a slight difference in this regard could change the meaning/nuance of a sentence. Memorizing and becoming familiar with how to use these particles is a great way to start improving your Japanese as an intermediate learner. 

EnglishHiraganaReading
the more…the moreば…ほどba…hodo
would have / should haveば…のにba…noni 
degree / extentほどhodo
is not as…as ほど…ないhodo…nai
no matter how いくら…てもikura…te mo
through / from [A] to [B][A]から[B]にかけて[A] kara [B] ni kakete
only / just / since / after…きり…kiri 
for sure (emphasizes the preceding word)…こそ…koso
if / supposeもしも…たらmoshimo…tara
although / despite …ながらも…nagaramo
even if / even though / regardless of…ても…te mo
to / for / as far as…is concerned / regarding …にとって… ni totte
even / so much as / not evenさえsae 
if only / as long asさえ…ばsae…ba

Examples:

  • 勉強すればするほど賢くなります。 
    Benkyō sureba suru hodo kashikoku narimasu.
    “The more you study, the smarter you become.”
  • もしも大金があったら、豪華客船で世界一周したい。
    Moshimo taikin ga attara, gōka kyakusen de sekai isshū shitai.
    “If I had a lot of money, I would want to go around the world on a luxury cruise ship.”
  • あなたさえ良ければ、一緒に行きませんか。
    Anata sae yokereba, issho ni ikimasen ka.
    “If only you’re okay, would you like to go with us?”
A Girl Sleeping on Class

いくら寝ても眠い。 (Ikura nete mo nemui.)
“(I’m) sleepy no matter how much I sleep.”

Conclusion

In this article, we introduced the most frequently used intermediate Japanese words, including large numbers, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and particles—we even threw in some example sentences for you. Some Kanji are a bit harder than those you learned at the beginner level, but you’ll now be able to deal with a wider range of topics and converse in more detail.

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and culture, you’ll find a lot more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons designed to help you improve your Japanese language skills. 

If you’re at the intermediate level in your Japanese studies, you’ll find the following articles very useful: 

And there’s so much more! Learn Japanese faster and enjoy studying with JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you would like to learn Japanese words related to any specific topic. We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you! 

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