Have you ever wondered how to say “miss” someone or something in Japanese? In English, the verb “to miss” can be used in many different contexts. for example, you can say “I miss you” to a wide variety of people. you can “miss” your parents, your friends, or your spouse. you can also “lose” objects or locations. a person may “miss” home or “miss school.” they may even “miss” a particular time in their life, such as their childhood.
Unfortunately, in Japanese, there is no singular way of saying “miss” that corresponds to all of the above. your choice of words depends on whether or not you are talking about an object, a place or a person, and in the latter case it also depends on your relationship with the missing person in question.
Reading: To miss in japanese
This article assumes some basic familiarity with Japanese adjectives, verbs, and particles, including the “て form,” verb conjugations like 〜たい、〜ちゃう, and suffixes like 〜がる, among others, so please review before reading on. !
lost things or places
The first thing we will learn to say is how to miss a place or a thing. for this we can use the adjective 恋しい（こいしい）. this is a very common expression used all the time in conversation.
Since this word is an adjective and not a verb, it behaves exactly like other adjectives in Japanese, such as 好き（な） and 嫌い（な）. for example, when you want to say “I like japan”, you can say:
following this same pattern, to say “i miss japan” you would replace 好き with 恋しい and get :
another useful sentence that uses this pattern is 「うちが恋しい」 to mean “I feel homesick” or “I miss home”. For example, if you’re at school and you call your parents to tell them you miss them, you could say 「うちが恋しい」. this actually sounds a bit more natural than telling your parents that you “miss them” directly, since, as we will see in the following sections, the various ways of saying “I miss you” directly to a person come with certain connotations that can be inappropriate to tell your family members.
keep in mind that since 恋しい is an い adjective, that in informal speech you do not attach だ to the end like you do with 好き.
talk about other people who miss places or things.
In case you want to talk about another person not finding a place, you can use the adjective 恋しい but you must qualify it by using a suffix like がる (it seems) or by intercommitting it. this is because in Japanese, talking about another person’s emotions or desires directly without a qualifier gives the impression that you can read their minds or have some other method of knowing with 100% certainty what they are thinking. Since this connotation does not exist in English, students of Japanese often make the mistake of talking about other people’s emotions directly without qualifying.
so if, for example, I wanted to say “my kids miss japan”, there are a few options:
in the first sentence, i attached the suffix がる to 恋しい to create 恋しがる (“seems to miss”) and then conjugated that into the polite present progressive 恋しがっています. note that since 恋しがる is a verb and not an adjective, the particle we use with 日本 changes from が to を. this is a good expression to use, if, say, your kids haven’t told you directly that they miss japan, but have given off signs that they do, such as always talking about their friends back home, or talking about how much they dislike their current home.
The second sentence literally translates to “my kids have said they miss japan”, which, unlike the first example, works well if your kids have literally told you straight out that they miss japan.
talking about missing persons
恋しい can’t be used when talking about people. so you can’t say 友達が恋しい to mean “i miss my friends”. it would just sound rather weird.
Instead, we have a few different options.
option 1 – 会いたい
The first is to use the phrase 「会いたい」 which literally means “want to see/meet” and comes from the verb 会う (meet/see someone) conjugated in the form 〜たい to indicate desire.
田中くんに会いたいね！- i miss you, tanaka! (literally: i want to see you, tanaka!)
To make it even louder, you can add 「今すぐ」, which literally means “right now” at the beginning:
今すぐ田中くんに会いたいね！ – i really miss you! (literally: i want to see you right now!)
会いたい can also be conjugated in the past tense, 「会いたかった」 to mean “I missed you”. For example, if you just saw your friend for the first time in a long time, you could say 「会いたかった」 since you missed him before, but now you feel better because you have him. see them again.
However, be careful with 会いたい, as it can have the connotation that you are “missing” the person in question because you have romantic feelings for them. If you tell someone this, they might
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option ２ – 会いたくなっちゃった
会いたくなっちゃった comes from the same verb 会う, but has a few more conjugations attached. first we conjugate it into the たい form to get 会いたい, and then add the verb なる, meaning “to become” at the end to get 会いたくなる (remember that なる attaches to い adjectives by changing い to く) . we then finally add 「ちゃう」conjugated into its past tense ちゃった to なる to give the added nuance of “i can’t help myself” or “i don’t mean to feel this way”. the final meaning of this phrase therefore becomes something like “i became wanting to see you and can’t help it” or “i just really want to see you so badly”.
this is basically the same as 会いたい above, but it sounds a bit more shy and feminine, which definitely gives off a much stronger vibe of having romantic feelings for the person you’re talking to.
option 3 – 寂しい（さびしい・さみしい）
Your third option is to use the word 寂しい, an adjective that literally means “lonely” and grammatically works like 恋しい above, since both are い adjectives. the official prescriptive pronunciation of this word is さびしい but many people will also pronounce it さみしい. in casual speech, either is fine, but if you’re trying to be 100% “grammatically correct” from a prescriptive point of view, such as when writing an essay or article, stick to さびしい.
さびしい can be a complete sentence on its own, so just saying さびしい will mean “i miss you!”.さびしい can be conjugated to the past tense 「さびしかった」 to mean “i missed you” and can attach to the verb なる to become さびしくなる to mean “i’m going to miss you!” when talking about the future. if you want to make a longer sentence, you can combine さびしい with 会う to get something like:
「会えなくて、さびしい」 which literally means “i’m lonely because i can’t see you” with the verb 会う being conjugated into the “te form” of the negative potential form（会う ->会える ->会えない ->会えなくて）to mean “cannot meet”.
also, like 恋しい, さびしい can be turned into さびしがる when talking about other people besides yourself:
彼は寂しがっています – “he seems lonely”.
さびしい doesn’t have the same potential for romantic overtones as 会いたい, so it’s a safer bet to use with friends you just want to stay platonic with.
As you can see, there are many ways to say “miss” in Japanese that largely depends on what or who you’re talking about. Since these nuances are strongly tied to Japanese culture itself, it is difficult to fully capture all the possible scenarios a person might encounter in a single article. so the best way to learn how to say “miss” like a native is to listen to Japanese people speaking in real life, paying close attention to who or what they are talking about and their relationship to that person or thing.頑張って！