In this blog I typically like to focus on a series of expressions or words for each post, but for once I’d like to dedicate an entire article to a single expression: そろそろ。
I was reading the other day in someone’s blog about how some words take several hearings to ‘stick’ in the mind, and others get remembered easily with little effort. I completely agree with this sentiment, and そろそろ was definitely in the latter category for me. I heard it used by a Japanese couple when leaving a small party and could never get it out of my head after that. In fact, in my daily-life Japanese this has become a very useful word, such that I wouldn’t be surprised if I said it once a day on average, if not more.
そろそろ is commonly used to express that its about time to do something, often because its getting late or you have other plans. For example, let’s say that I am out with my family at a restaurant, and we have finished eating. I might say something like this:
- You want to get going soon?
The dictionary translates this word as “by now”, or “soon” in some of the example sentences, but doesn’t have an overall one-fit word for this usage, probably because there is no perfect match to English. It does refer to the Japanese word “ぼつぼつ”, which has only one related meaning, “まもなく”, which means “soon”. The other meaning in the dictionary for そろそろ is “slow/quietly”, but I’ve never heard this one used before.
Here are a few more examples:
- Don’t you think it’s about time?
- It’s about time to sleep .
- Do you want to eat dinner soon?
If you ever get an opportunity to live in Japan, or even live with Japanese-speaking people in whatever country you are in, this expression will surely prove invaluable.