Skip to Content

How to Say “sounds good” in Japanese

How to Say “sounds good” in Japanese

No matter how hard you try, some phrases just don’t translate between languages.

This isn’t necessarily because something is “untranslatable,” but rather because languages grow out of their cultures, which have different contexts and ways of thinking about things.

One example of an English phrase that doesn’t have an exact Japanese equivalent is “sounds good.”
 

How do you say “sounds good” in Japanese?

The best way to say something is good in Japanese is with the sentence「いいです。」 (ii). Although the English expression “sounds good” isn’t really used in the same way, you can say「それはいい。」(sore wa ii) for “that is good,” which is nearly identical in meaning. In more formal situations, or in written Japanese, the full sentence 「それはいいです。」 (sore wa ii desu) should be used. If you need to say music or something literally sounds good, on the other hand, you should say「いい音です。」(ii oto desu).
 

It’s good: 「いいです。」 (ii desu)

Just like in English, the core of this phrase in Japanese is the “good.”

In Japanese 「良い」 (yoi) means good. However, in informal contexts it is almost always spoken or written as 「いい」 (ii) instead.

Used by itself, the phrase 「いいです。」 (ii desu) just means something is good.

Typically, the phrase would be preceded by a topic which makes the “something” explicit.

If there isn’t one, the context of the discussion should make it pretty clear regardless.

In casual conversations, the です (desu) might be turned into a だ (da). Sometimes, it might be dropped entirely, rendering this as just 「いい。」 (ii).

「いいです。」 is a very flexible phrase. It can mean “sure,” “yes,” “why not” or a number of other English equivalents. It doesn’t quite carry the same connotations as “sounds good,” but it’s close.

Examples

「スパゲッティはどうですか?」

「いいです。」

“How about Spaghetti?”

“Sure.”

 

Saying “sounds good” with 「それはいい。」 (sore wa ii)

A closely related phrase to 「いいです。」, and one that’s a better option if you want to say “sounds good” in Japanese, is 「それはいい。」 (sore wa ii).

Literally, this phrase means “that is good.” Because the それ explicitly refers to something previously said or suggested, it is a little closer in meaning to the English “sounds good,” which does the same thing.

You may notice that, unlike 「いいです。」, 「それはいい。」 is just a phrase, rather than a complete sentence.

The lack of the copula, です (desu), serves to make 「それはいい。」 more casual and even a bit more emphatic.

However, if you need to agree to something in a slightly more formal setting, or even in writing, you should definitely add the です at the end so that it’s grammatically correct.

Likewise, in English, you probably wouldn’t ask your boss if they were “gonna” do something.

Rather, you would use the more formal and grammatically correct “going to” in this kind of context.

All the same, whether you’re being casual and saying 「それはいい。」 or slightly more formal with 「それはいいです。」, this is the best analog for “sounds good” in English.

Examples

「この夏、イギリスに行きましょうか?」

「あ、それはいい!」

“This summer, shall we go to England?”

“Ah, sounds good!”

「スミスさん、この報告書を一緒に書きましょうか?」

「それはいいですね。」

“Mr. Smith, shall we write this report together?”

“Yes, That sounds good.”

In the second, more formal context, the copula です (desu) is added.

The sentence-ending particle ね (ne) has also been appended, making Smith’s response more collegial and less brash.

 

When you need to talk about something with a good sound

Of course, there’s another, more literal meaning to “sounds good.”

If you need to talk about the actual sound something is making, and say that it’s good, you could technically still use 「それはいい。」 to say “That’s good!”

A more specific way to say something has a good sound, however, is to use the sentence 「いい音です。」 (ii oto desu).

This also has the word いい (ii, “good”), and is coupled with the word 音 (oto, “sound”).

Put together, it means “it sounds good.”

Alternatively, you can use the sentence 「音はいいです。」 (oto ha ii desu, “the sound is good”). Although it has a slightly different emphasis, much as and the two equivalent English sentences do, the meaning is the same.

Examples

「あのギターはいい音ですね。」

“That guitar sounds good.”

「あ、この歌手の声の音はいいですね。」

“Ah, the sound of this singer’s voice is good.”

How to Respond to “Hi” 10 Other Ways to Say “I am reaching out to you”