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How to Say “Calm Down” in Japanese

How to Say “Calm Down” in Japanese

Japan has a reputation for extreme politeness, but people there still get angry.

In this post, we’ll give you the right words to defuse the situation.

 

How to say “calm down” in Japanese

In Japanese, you can use the compound verb 落ち着く (おちつく) to tell someone to calm down.

If someone is really panicking, you might shout 「落ち着け!」while the more soft-spoken and reserved individual might opt for 「おちついてください。」

This word can also be used to talk about other things calming down, like the rush of your job or the pedestrian traffic at your favorite shrine during festival season.

 

A bit on 落ち着く and compound verbs

落ち着く is a compound verb, meaning it’s actually two separate verbs stuck together to create a more nuanced word.

Compound verbs are formed by taking the verb stem of a verb and adding another verb on the end.

Technically, you get the stem form of a verb differently depending on whether you are dealing with a る verb or an う verb.

If you’re not familiar with this terminology, る verbs are all verbs that end in る. Shocking, right? う verbs are a little more complex, but essentially any verb that doesn’t end in る is an う verb.

That said, the easiest way to figure out how to get the verb stem is to conjugate your word to ます form and then cut off the ます.

So 書く (to write) becomes 書きます and the stem is 書き, 飲む (to drink) becomes 飲みます and the stem is 飲み, and so on.

Once you have the stem of your first verb, you simply add the second and then treat the entire thing as a single verb for purposes of conjugation and grammar.

There are a few more complexities to compound verbs, but to be honest the word “verb” is starting to look like a made-up word at this point, so let’s move on.

 

The parts of 落ち着く

When learning a compound verb, it’s useful to know the individual words that make it up.

In this case, we have the words 落ちる (to fall) and 着く (to arrive at, to reach).

Taken together, this means the Japanese word for “calm down” means something like “fall and arrive.” It’s important to realize that this shouldn’t be taken literally.

Instead, think of it as a vivid metaphor.

Because hot air rises and people have a hot temper, they need to “cool” that heat by lowering the temperature.

Imagine your anger boiling around your head, and as you calm down it slowly drops lower and lower until it reaches a point of calm.

 

Calming people down with 落ち着いて

The best way to use this verb is with the て form, 落ち着いて.

Although it’s technically a command form, this form is polite and non-confrontational, both important if you’re facing someone who’s already angry.

In situations where you really need to be polite, you can add ください to the end.

 

Examples

「これ昨日買ったけどもう壊れたよ!どうするつもり?」
「今交換しますから落ち着いてください。」

“I bought this yesterday but it’s already broken. What are you going to do about it?”
“I’ll exchange it now, so calm down, please.”

Although this is technically polite, it’s worth noting that in a business setting you would probably need to use much more formal language and avoid suggesting that the customer is at fault.

For instance, 「申し訳ございません。今交換しますから少々待ちごらんなさい。」 or “I’m very sorry about that. I’ll exchange it now, so please wait a short moment.”

 

「おちつけ!」 When calm is imperative

If calm is absolutely urgent and you don’t have time to mess around, you can try the shorter 落ち着け.

This is the imperative form and it has a brash, masculine sound, although it can be used by anyone.

It’s definitely not polite, though, so you’re better off not using it unless the situation is extreme.

 

Examples

「いや!死にたくない!放せ!」
[落ち着け!気をつかないと危ないぞ。」

“No! I don’t want to die! Let me go!”
“Calm down! If we’re not careful it’ll be dangerous.”

「落ち着け!そんなにうるさくとゾンビが聞いて来るぞ!」

“Calm down! If you’re that loud the zombies will hear you and come after us!”

 

落ち着く in other contexts

You can also use 落ち着く to talk about things “calming down” in a more metaphorical sense, like work. In English, we might translate these uses as “let up.”

「仕事がやっと落ち着いた。」

“Work finally calmed down.”

「交通量が落ち着かない間に休みました。」

“I took a breather until the traffic let up.”

In these contexts, the verb isn’t a command so you should just conjugate it like any other verb.