5 Ways Native Japanese Ask “What Did You Say?”

Japanese Dictionary

Hello, guys! I’m Masa from Japan2U!!

Japanese native speakers speak really fast.

And sometimes, you will not catch up with what they say.

You can pretend to understand what they said, but I recommend asking them, “What did you say?” and “Could you say that again?” to improve your Japanese level.


When I lived in the U.S., native English speakers spoke super fast, and I kept saying, “What did you say” and “Could you say that again.”

I was sorry when I asked these questions several times, but it definitely helped improve my English!!


5 Ways Native Japanese Speakers Say “What Did You Say?”

何(なん)とおっしゃいましたか?(Super Formal)

This is the most polite way of asking “What did you say?” in Japanese.

If you want to make it more polite, you can ask,
恐(おそ)れ入(い)りますが = I’m very sorry to ask you this, but ~.

Example Sentence

A:(Speaking fast)

A:(Speaking fast)
B:I’m sorry, but what did you just say?



The formal way of asking “What did you say?” is “何(なん)て言(い)いましたか?”

You can use this for older people, senpai, and your supervisors.

We often put “すみません”(I’m sorry) before this phrase.
“すみません、何(なん)て言(い)いましたか?” = “I’m sorry, but what did you say?”

Example Sentence


A:Finish this homework by tomorrow.
B:I’m sorry teacher, what did you just say?



“何(なん)て言(い)った?” is the casual way of “何(なん)て言(い)いましたか?”

You can use this for your friends and Kohai.

Example Sentence


A:Senpai, good luck with your exam tomorrow!
B:I’m sorry, what did you say?


何(なん)て? (Very Casual)

“何(なん)て?” is the shortened phrase of “何(なん)て言(い)った?”

I don’t recommend using this one to your senpai and boss.


This phrase itself is not very rude as far as you say it kindly.

I often say this one to my Kohai and family.

Example Sentence

A:Masa, ペン持(も)ってきて。

A:Masa, could you bring me a pen?
B:What did you say, mom?


何(なに)?  (Super Casual)

As you guess, this one is also shortened word of “何(なん)て言(い)った?”

Again, this word itself is not rude. The way of asking is more important.

Example Sentence


A:The exam was challenging, right?
B:I’m sorry, what did you say?



  • 何(なん)とおっしゃいましたか?
  • 何(なん)て言(い)いましたか?
  • 何(なん)て言(い)った?
  • 何(なん)て?
  • 何(なに)?

You can always put “すみません” or “ごめん” before these phrases to ask kindly. じゃあね!

If you want to know more Japanese Native phrases, click here!!










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