A few ways to express “more” in Japanese (more than just “motto”)

By | May 7, 2018

In this post I’d like to go over a few different ways to express the concept of “more” in Japanese, essentially when something is going to be a greater degree or amount than it was previously. Keep in mind that in English sometimes the concept of “more” is implied (even though the word itself isn’t used), like when saying “colder”.

To begin with, the word “motto” (もっと) is the simplest, most basic way to say “more”. Use “motto” if you aren’t sure which word to use.

  • 日本語をもっと勉強したいです。 (nihonngo wo motto benkyou shitai desu)
  • I want to study Japanese more.

“Motto” can be used by itself, for example:

  • もっともっと! (motto motto!)
  • More, more!

Now, when you are eating and want more food, you might be tempted to say:

  • もっとください (motto kudasai)
  • More please.

However, generally you should use the word “okawari” (おかわり), which is a specific term that means a second (or third) helping of food:

  • おかわりください (okawari kudasai)
  • More (food) please.

The word “mou” (もう) has a bunch of meanings, including “now” or “already”. It can also be used to express “more” by preceeding a counter that means “one” of something:

  • 人がもう一人いる (hito ga mou hitori iru)
  • One more person is present.
  • もうひとつください。 (mou hitotsu kudasai)
  • One more (thing) please.

Another word you can use to mean “more” is “yori” (より):

  • 明日はより寒くなるらしいです。  (ashita wa yori samuku naru rashii desu)
  • It seems that tomorrow it will get colder.

However, while I have seen this usage, I have also been told that it isn’t the most proper grammar, and that generally “yori” should be preceded by a word being contrasted against, as in:

  • 明日は今日より寒くなるらしいです。  (ashita wa kyou yori samuku naru rashii desu)
  • It seems that tomorrow it will get colder than today.

Another related expression is “nani yori mo” (何よりも) which means “more than anything else” and “dare yori mo” (誰よりも) which means “more than anyone else”

Another word you can use is ”yokei” (余計). However, as this has the nuance of “too much” or “unnecessary”, it is generally used for negative situations. For example,

  • 休まないと体調が余計悪くなるよ (yasumanai to taichou ga yokei waruku naru yo)
  • If you don’t rest your condition (health) will get even worse.

Another word that can express “more” (or sometimes “anymore”) is “ijou” (以上). This word can mean “the above (mentioned)” or even “the end”, but it can be used to express “more”, as in these examples:

  • 今まで以上に頑張りたいと思います. (ima made ijou ni ganbaritai to omoimasu)
  • I’d like to try even harder than I have ever before.
  • これ以上待てない (kore ijou matenai)
  • I can’t wait anymore.

Yet another word that can mean “more” is “saranaru” (更なる). This has a bit of a formal tone and generally must come before a noun. It can often be translated as “further”.

  • 更なる発展を期待しています。(saranaru hatten wo kitei shite imasu)
  • I’m expecting further developments.

A related word is “sara ni” (さらに) which also means “more”. It has more a formal feel to it, and you can see it often in advertisements. For example,

  • さらに美味しくなりました! (sara ni oishiku narimashita!)
  • Now even tastier!  (Literally: “It has become tastier”)

If you didn’t have enough words to mean “more”, I’ll tell you one more. It’s “issou” (いっそう or 一層). This word is most commonly used in literature (novels, poems, etc.).

  • 一層頑張ります (issou ganbarimasu)
  • I’ll try even more.

You can also combine より and 一層 to get “より一層”, which basically has the same meaning. (See this page for more detail about this combination)

Sometimes, you don’t use a separate word to express the concept of “more” in Japanese.

For example, any sentence that uses the verb “naru” (なる, “to become”) with an adverb before it has an implicit sense of “more”. There is no need for words like “motto” or “yori”.

  • 明日は寒くなるらしいです。  (ashita wa samuku naru rashii desu)
  • It seems that tomorrow it will get colder.

Also, the expression “no hou ga~” (のほうが〜) is frequently used to compare two or more things.

  • のほうが好きだよ (kimi no hou ga suki da yo).
  • I like you more.

Finally, I’d like to end this post by saying you’ll never run out of things to study in Japanese. No matter how much you’ve studied, there is always more to study.

So I guess you should say motto should be your motto.  (Sorry, I couldn’t help avoiding this bad pun (:  )

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