How do you say sweet, sour, or spicy in Japanese? Let's take a look at a few tastes words.

()っぱい suppai—sour


That pineapple was so sour, I couldn't eat it.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

その sono–that
パイナップル painappuru–pineapple
wa–(topic particle)
酸っぱくて suppakute–sour and… [from 酸っぱい suppai–sour; this is the て form which acts as a conjunction. It is sour and (therefore) I cannot eat it.]
食べられなかった taberarenakatta–unable to eat [from 食べる taberu–to eat]



After the meal, I want something sweet to eat.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

食後に shokugo ni—after eating

何か nanika–something

甘いもの amai mono—sweets; something sweet

ga—marks the object wanted to be eaten

食べたい tabetai—to want to eat [~たい means “want to”]

Here is an idiomatic use of あまい similar to how it is used in English.

He seduced her with sweet words.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

wa—(topic particle)
甘い言葉 amai kotoba—alluring words; sugared words; flattery
彼女 kanojo—she; her [can also mean “girlfriend”]
o—(direct object marker)
誘った sasotta—tempted; seduced


Bitter medicine works better.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

wa—(topic particle)
苦い nigai—bitter
ほうが houga—is more than; is better; (bitter is more effective)
効く kiku—works; has effect

He overcame a bitter experience and became an adult.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

苦い経験 nigai keiken—a bitter experience
乗り越えて nori koete–overcame
大人 otona—adult
になった ni natta—became

(から)karai—spicy hot

Indian curry is spicy.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

インド indo—India
カレー kare– – curry
インドのカレー indo no kare– – Indian curry
辛い karai–spicy

おいしい oishii—delicious

Japanese food is delicious.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

日本 nihon—Japan
食事 shokuji—food
日本の食事 nihon no shokuji—Japanese food
おいしい oishii—delicious

うまい umai—tasty

This restaurant's sushi is tasty.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

この kono—this [used before nouns]
すし sushi—sushi
この店のすし kono mise no sushi—this restaurant’s sushi
うまい umai—delicious; tasty

And here is another idiomatic use for うまい.


Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

うまい話 umai hanashi—too-good-to-be-true stories (scams; frauds)
には ni wa—as for (too-good-to-be-true stories)
気を付けた ki o tsuketa—take care [use the た form of verbs before ほうがいい]
ほうがいい hou ga ii—better to

まずい mazui—unsavory; not delicious

This ramen is horrible.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

この kono—this (goes before a noun)
ラーメン ra-men—ramen noodles
まずい mazui—not delicious

Like うまい, まずい can be used idiomatically also.

This is a raw deal.

Vocabulary and Grammatical Notes

これは kore wa—as for this, it is…
まずいこと mazui koto—a bad thing
になった ni natta—became

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