- 普通 (ふつう)、which is generally translated as “normal”, is an convenient word with several uses. I’ll go over a few of the more common ones in this post.
One of the simplest ways to use this word is by treating it as an adjective, by adding a の on the back end of it.
- A normal person would not study Japanese until late at night!
You can also use this word unmodified to mean “normally”. In the below example the は is optional.
- I think that normally, people don’t eat nothing by candy.
If you want to say “normally” in an adverbial sense (meaning it modifies an action), it’s best to add a に to ふつう。
- How did you turn this computer on?
- I just pushed the switch normally.
A final way I have heard this word is to mean ”typical” or “nothing special”.
- How was the movie?
- It was OK.
You can use 普通に for a similar meaning when you want to modify another adjective or other word.
- How was dinner?
- It was alright, I guess. (lit: “It was normally tasty”)
Another word with a similar meaning is 普段（ふだん), which means “usually” or “ordinarily”.
- Usually I commute around 8am but that day I overslept so I left the house around 10.
One final thing to be careful of – if you say “普通の人はそんなことをしない”, you are probably implying someone is “abnormal”. If you want a safer expression, you can say ”一般の人は…” which means more like “an average person” or “the general public”.