Nandayo! Dame dayo! Da yo ne~. When watching anime or talking with your Japanese friends you can often hear them say dayo. It’s a very natural and common way to end a Japanese sentence.
But what does the Japanese “dayo” mean?
In short, dayo or da yo is used in spoken Japanese and informal situations to put more emphasis on what you are saying or to make you sound more casual and friendly. It’s kinda similar to the English “…, you know!“. Other than that it doesn’t really have a meaning.
And how do you use “dayo” in Japanese?
Dayo is added to the end of a Japanese sentence. It usually replaces “da”, “desu”, “desu yo”, etc.
Read on if you want a more detailed explanation with more examples of how to use “dayo” in Japanese sentences!
Dayo – だよ
What Does “Dayo” Mean?
Dayo (だよ) is often considered Japanese slang, but it’s commonly used in informal situations. So I would rather say it’s a natural expression.
It consists of da (だ), which is used to declare a state-of-being aka “(something) is ….”. And it’s usually seen as the casual form of the polite copula desu (です) – the word for “be, is”.
And yo (よ) is a sentence ending particle that is used for emphasis or when telling something new. I usually translate this as an exclamation mark.
I think the problem with dayo (だよ) is that it can be translated into English, but not as one specific word or expression. Because most of the time dayo just puts an emphasis on what you’re saying or changes the nuance of your sentence to make you sound more casual and friendly.
For example, when your friend is looking for something you can say:
On your left.
But he keeps looking in the wrong direction, so now with more emphasis, you say:
Hidari, hidari dayo!
Left, on your left!
Sometimes it can be well translated into English using “…, you know“.
Let’s assume your friend asked you why you moved to Japan and you answer:
Maa, nihon ga suki dayo.
Well, I like Japan, you know.
My Tip: Don’t try to translate it. Just understand that it’s a natural expression used when talking casually.
How to Use “Dayo”?
Dayo (だよ) is always used at the end of a Japanese sentence.
After nouns and na-adjectives just add dayo as it is:
noun + だよ
na-adjective + だよ
You can also use dayo after i-adjectives, however you need to add んだよ
i-adjectives + ん + だよ
Usually the i and n are pronunced together and dayo follows after a short pause:
samuin (pause) dayo, atsuin (pause) dayo, ookiin dayo, and so on.
If the sentence ends in da, desu, yo ne, etc., they need to be replace with dayo.
|元気です (genki desu)||元気だよ|
|きれいですよ (kirei desu yo)||きれいだよ|
|好きだ (suki da)||好きだよ|
|長いよね (nagai yo ne)||長いんだよ|
When to use “Dayo”?
So now let’s look at some more specific situations when you can use dayo.
1. You want to tell your friend your opinion
However, you don’t want to sound too strong or direct.
Meccha samui yo, iya dayo.
It’s so cold, I hate it…
This is beautiful~
2. You want to emphasize what you’re saying.
It’s okay, really! or I’m okay, don’t worry!
Watshi mo dayo.
Oh, me too!!!
3. You want to point something out.
Either something new or some kind of special information.
Mite! Misa-chan dayo!
Oh look! It’s Misa!
Mou juuji dayo.
It’s already 10, you know.
Dayo vs. Desu
Now that we know the meaning of dayo and also know how we can use it in Japanese, let’s have a look at what’s the difference between “dayo” and “desu”.
Desu (です) is added to the end of a sentence to make it more formal and polite. You can add it after nouns and adjectives like this:
Ku ji desu.
It’s nine o’clock.
Nihon ga suki desu.
I like Japan.
You can’t tell from the translations, but the sentences are very polite and formal.
This is how you want to talk to your teacher, a client, or someone you don’t know well. But it sounds stiff and it’s not how you want to come across when chatting with a friend.
So in casual situations, you want to use dayo (だよ) instead. The same sentences will sound more friendly and also more natural. Kinda like this:
Ku ji dayo.
Nihon ga suki dayo.
I like Japan, you know.
Dayo vs. Da
Instead of dayo (だよ) you can also just add da (だ) at the end of a sentence. However, this will make your statement pretty strong and might even sound a little bit rude. Because it kinda stops the conversation.
Let’s take the previous examples, ９時だよ and 日本が好きだよ.
When you say ９時だ (Ku ji da) it means “It’s nine” or just “Nine”. But depending on how the person says it, it could also be interpreted as “It’s nine. I already told you a second ago! So don’t ask me again!”. Or “At nine. I’ve already decided, so the time can’t be changed!”.
日本が好きだ (Nihon ga suki da) sounds very enthusiastic “I **love** Japan!!!”. And it could be interpreted as “Because I love Japan, of course! Why do you even ask?”.
Don’t get me wrong, though! You can definitely use da (だ). Usually, everyone smiles when I say 日本が好きだ (Nihon ga suki da).
Just be aware that for Japanese it is a strong expression. Because of that da (だ) is also more often used by men than by women.
Dayo in Japanese Sentences
When I studied Japanese, example sentences always helped me a lot to completely understand a phrase.
So to give you an even better idea of how to use”dayo” in Japanese I have put together more examples.
First some common and basic phrases, and then some more advanced sentences for the intermediates.
Note: Most of the sentences can be translated in more than one way. So instead of focusing on the exact translation, try to understand how and when “dayo” is used.
Common Japanese Phrases With “Dayo”
元気だよ (Genki dayo) means “I’m fine” or “I can’t complain”.
Genki dayo, kimi wa?
I’m fine, and you?
Ikaga desu ka。
How’s it going?
I can’t complain.
Genki dayo! Kaze nante hecchara sa.
No really, I’m fine! It’s just a cold.
ばかだよ or 馬鹿だよ (Baka dayo) can be translated as “You’re such a fool” or “You are silly”.
Mattaku baka dayo.
You’re a fool for sure.
Sonna koto o iu nante kimi wa baka dayo.
Saying such a fool for saying things.
Samui yo. Kooto o wasurete shimau nante kimi wa baka dayo.
It’s cold. You are such a silly girl forgetting your coat.
大好きだよ (Daisuki dayo) means “I love you” or “I love it”.
Zutto daisuki dayo.
I’ll always love you.
Watashi mo kore daisuki dayo.
I love this, too.
Mazu suki ja nakatta n dakedo, ima wa daisuki dayo.
I didn’t like it in the beginning, but now I’m loving it.
なんだよ (Nan dayo) can be translated as “What do you want?”, “What is it?” or just “What?”. If used by itself this phrase can be a bit rude, so be careful.
Omae, nan dayo.
What do you want?
Ittai nan dayo?
What the hell ?
Wasureta tte, nan dayo?
You forgot what?
だよね (dayo ne) is a little bit different from the previous phrases. You use it to agree with someone. “Yeah” or “You’re right~”.
Sou da yo ne.
Kawaii da yo ne.
Yeah, it’s cute.
Taihen da yo ne.
You’re right, it’s tough.
本当だよ (Hontou dayo) can either mean “It’s true!” but also “Believe me!” or in the sense of “It’s true, I swear!”.
Shiranakattan da, hontou dayo.
I had no idea, I swear.
Kinou kanojo ni atta yo.
I met her yesterday.
That can’t be true!
Iya, hontou dayo.
Waa, kono eiga wa kowakatta naa
Wow, this was such a scary movie!
冗談だよ (Joudan dayo) is “Just joking” or “I’m kidding” or “It’s a joke!”
Hon no joudan dayo.
It’s just a joke.
Nani O Itten Dayo
何を言ってんだよ (Nani o itten dayo) means “What are you saying?” or “What?”
Kare wa nani o itten dayo.
What is he talking about?
Nani itterun dayo!
What are you talking about?
Japanese Sentences With “Dayo”
I’m absolutely sure!
What the heck are you talking about?
Jeez, what’re you doing?
I really mean it.
It’s no good to stay up until late at night.
A human body is 70% water.
To put it briefly it’s your fault.
There’s no point in starting a shop that sells boxed lunches.
Conclusion – Japanese Dayo in English
Dayo (だよ) might be a bit hard to grasp if you try to translate it into one specific English expression. However, if you just focus on its function – to make you sound more friendly and casual – it’s actually pretty easy to use.
Good luck with your Japanese studies!
Resources & Links
- Genki I (Good Japanese beginner textbook that you can buy on amazon)
- eije.weblio.jp (Japanese Online Dictionary with many example sentences)
- jisho.org (Good Japanese Online Dictionary)
- hinative.com (What does desu, ka, dayo mean in Japanese)
- maggiesensei.com (How to use suffix ~よ)
- youtube.com (What is DAYO and How Do You Use it in Japanese?)
- en.wikbooks.org (Sentence Ending Particles)