Skip to Content

Japanese Expression Variations: ‘Honto’ vs. ‘Honto ni

Japanese Expression Variations: ‘Honto’ vs. ‘Honto ni

Whether it’s English, Japanese, or any other language, every language has its own rules, and with rules, the language becomes complicated to use. Japanese is the language that will be discussed in this article.

The Japanese words “honto” and “honto ni” are different but seem the same, but before diving into that, let’s talk about the Japanese language.

However, here is a brief table for the differences between “honto” and “honto ni.”

HontoHonto ni
It means “really”It’s an emphasized version of “really”
It’s used as a nounIt is used to modify a verb or an adjective
It shows a casual relationship between two people when usedIt shows a formal relationship between two people
Difference between Honto and Honto ni

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by 128 million natively. Most of them are Japanese people, as it’s the national language of Japan.

Japanese belongs to a family of languages which is called Japonic. However, its classification is yet to be cleared with other families. Some linguists tried to group Japonic languages with other families like  Ainu, Austroasiatic, Koreanic, and now-discredited Altaic. However, all of these proposals were accepted. Japanese doesn’t have any demonstrable genealogical relationship with the language Chinese, but a large part of Japanese vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese.

The differences between “honto” and “honto ni” are, “honto’ is a casual word, while “honto ni” is more formal. Moreover, “ni” in “honto ni” makes it have stronge emphasis. “Honto” is mostly used as a noun, whereas “honto ni” is used to modify a verb or an adjective, it’s also a conjuctive form of a na-adjective (Na-adjectives are all those which don’t end with い with just a few exceptions and the exceptions are “beautiful” (きれい), “hate” (きらい), and “grateful/happy” (さいわい) which may look like い adjectives, but they’re conjugate as na-adjectives in fact).

Keep reading to know more.

The Japanese Language

A mountain overlooking a city
An agglutinative language is a synthetic language with morphology that mostly utilizes agglutination.

Japanese is an agglutinative and mora-timed language accompanied by simple phonotactics, an easy and pure vowel system, phonemic vowel and consonant length, and a significant lexical pitch accent (Pitch-accent is a feature of the Japanese language which differentiates words by accenting particular morae in many Japanese dialects).

The order of a sentence is normally subject-object-verb, with particles marking the grammatical functions of words and sentence structure of topic and comment.

Here are some key points:

  • Sentence-final particles are used to add emotional or emphatic impact or form questions.
  • Nouns don’t have grammatical numbers or gender.
  • There aren’t any articles.
  • Verbs are conjugated only for tense and voice, and not the person.
  • Japanese adjectives are conjugated.
  • Japanese honorific system has verb forms and vocabulary to denote the relative status of the speaker, the listener, and the persons mentioned.
  • Some Chinese characters are used in written Japanese, known as kanji (漢字, lit. Han characters).
  • In the Japanese writing system, there is a use of two unique syllabic (or moraic) scripts ( which are derived by the Japanese from the more complex Chinese characters): hiragana (simple characters) and katakana (partial characters). 
  • Latin script is also used in a limited fashion, such as in imported acronyms in Japanese writing.
  • The Japanese numeral system primarily uses Arabic numerals, but traditional Chinese numerals are also used.

Learn more about the Japanese language through this video.

The Japanese Language

“Honto” and “Honto ni” are also written as “Hontou” and “Hontouni or Hontou ni” respectively.

Let’s now dive into what “honto” and “honto ni” means and how they’re used.

“Honto ni” is considered a formal phrase, whereas “honto” is said to be casual. When one uses “honto ni”, it shows that the relationship between the speaker and the listener is formal, and when one uses “honto” is indicates that the relationship between the speaker and the listener is casual.

“Honto ni” means “really”. However, “ni” puts a stronger emphasis on it. “Honto” means same as “honto ni”. The only difference is “ni,” which emphasizes it more strongly.

“honto” or “hontou” can mean really, very, truly, actually, or genuinely in English. It’s used in terms of a fact, reality, or truth.

Furthermore, “honto” is used as a noun, while “honto ni” is said to be a conjunctive form of a na-adjective and is also used to modify a verb or an adjective.

What’s the difference between Honto and Honto NI?

A Japanese store
The Japanese language has its own set of rules.

The big difference between “Honto” and “honto ni” is that, “honto” indicates a casual relation between the speaker and the listener, while “honto ni’ suggests a formal relation between the speaker and the listener. Moreover, “Honto” is used as a noun, on the other hand “honto ni” is used in order to modify verb or an adjective, it’s also a conjunctive of a na-adjective.

As with any other language, the Japanese language has its own rules. While words seem similar, they can have some differences that might make the impact of the sentences stronger.

“Honto” and “honto ni” might seem similar, but in some ways, they have differences.

“Honto” means really, but there’s a strong emphasis on “ni”.

“Honto” in English means really, truly, actually, and many other words.

What does Honto mean in English?

an open book
“Honto” is used as a noun.

The Japanese word “honto” means, “really” in the English language.

However, when you search for what “hontou” or “honto” means in Japanese, it shows that it means “really”.

Moreover, “honto” is used as a noun.

One thing one should know is that “hontou” is correct, as it’s pronounced only as “honto” in a conversation. Thus, people think it “honto” rather than “hontou”.

How do you respond to Honto?

As “honto” shows doubt and asks a question if something is true or not, thus the only response can be ” yes it’s true”.

When people are making conversation, and one says something that others can’t believe. They show their doubt by saying “hontou”, they’re asking if the thing that was said was true or not, therefore the person who told the unbelievable tale, one can respond it by repeating what he said or can respond it by saying “yes, it’s true”.

What is the difference between Honto Ni and Majide?

A narrow alley
Maji de is pronounced as MAH-gee deh.

The only difference between “honto ni” and “maji de” is that, “honto ni” has stronger emphasis than “maji de”, however if you want emphasis in “maji de”, you can say “maji de yabai”.

“Maji de” is written in Japanese as まじで, which sounds like MAH-gee deh. It roughly translates as “really” or “for real?”.

The phrase “maji de” is used as a question: “Are you serious?” If one wants to emphasize it, they can add “yabai”, and “Maji de yabai” means “seriously insane”.

As you must know by now, “honto” means “really,” and so does “maji de”. However, “honto ni” is a formal and more emphasized version.

To Conclude

Flags with Japanese letters written on them
Japanese nouns don’t have any grammatical number or gender, and there aren’t articles.
  • The Japanese language features two similar expressions: “honto” and “honto ni.”
  • “Honto” means “really” and is used casually, while “honto ni” is more formal and emphasizes the meaning.
  • “Honto” primarily functions as a noun. In contrast, “honto ni” is employed to modify verbs or adjectives. It is regarded as a conjunctive form of a na-adjective. 
  • Japanese is an agglutinative language with unique phonotactics, sentence structure, and honorifics.
  • The language utilizes kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Latin script in writing.
  • “Honto” is often used to express doubt or verify the truth of a statement, with responses like “Yes, it’s true.”
  • “Another similar expression is “maji de,” which means “really.” It can be emphasized by adding “yabai” to convey “seriously insane.” 

Other Articles

Skip to content