Different ways of saying “except” in Japanese

By | April 1, 2014

In this post I’d like to discuss a few ways to express the concept of “except” in Japanese.


以外 is one of the most basic ways to say “except” in Japanese. You typically put it after a noun, pronoun, or verb. Here are a few examples:

  • ゲーム以外のアプリはダウンロードしたことがない
  • I’ve never downloaded an (computer/mobile) application except for games.
  • 週末はテレビをみる以外はずっと寝てるつもり。
  • On weekends, I plan on just sleeping except for watching TV.
  • それ以外は何も考えられない。
  • I can’t think of anything except that.

Don’t confuse this word with 意外(also pronounced いがい) which means “surprising”.


This expression literally means “If it’s not~” and can be used in a similar way as “except”

  • ホラーじゃなければ何でも良いよ。
  • Except for horror (genre) anything is fine with me.

Replacing じゃなければ here with 以外は would have the same meaning.


This expression is more formal and is used more commonly in writing.

  • 納豆を除いて和風の物は全部好きです。
  • Except for natto (fermented soybeans) I love everything Japanese-style.

The opposite of this would be を含めて(ふくめて)which means “including”

  • 僕を含めて、アメリカ人はもっとしっかり勉強するべきだと思います。
  • I think that Americans, including myself, should study harder.


ほか means “other” and has  a similar nuance to 以外 because it excludes the subject it is being used with.

  • これほど美味しいものは他にない
  • There’s nothing as tasty as this.
  • 他に友達いる?
  • Do you have any other friends?  (Here “他に” means “otherwise” or “in addition”)
  • 彼の他の歌はあまり好きじゃない。
  • I don’t like his other songs much.
  • 他には?
  • Anything else?
  • その他
  • Others   (you’ll often see this as the last answer on a multiple choice question on a test or survey)

 Other related words

  • 例外(れいがい): exception
  • 他人(たにん): other person (besides yourself), stranger, unrelated person, outsider
  • 部外者(ぶがいしゃ):Outsider (can be an insult)


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6 thoughts on “Different ways of saying “except” in Japanese

  1. JB

    I didn’t know about 意外 and 含めて! (Words with the same pronunciation is what confuses me the most)

      1. JB

        Similar to “ame,” which can be “candy” or “rain” depending on the intonation. So many things are still very hard for me to catch during conversations, for example ろ vs りょう, especially when they’re speaking casually or in normal speed.

        Btw, that site is amazing and I will be keeping that forever, wow!

        1. locksleyu Post author

          Sure, no problem. There are some great sites you can only find by searching in Japanese (:
          (I actually own a printed dictionary of intonations but I never use it.)
          I usually can hear ろ vs りょう but have a harder time with し vs しゅ when its spoken quickly.

  2. Fran

    I have seen 以外 in a few songs, but I didn’t know it’s meaning.

    I’m having a bit of a trouble understanding 他に. I knew about 他の and it is kind of easy to understand, but 他に is new to me. If you had a lesson or could write one about the use of 他の and 他に that would be very helpful.

    Thanks for this lesson.


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