Getting specific with も (mo) and what not to tell your lover

By | September 21, 2020

The Japanese も (mo) particle has a handful of uses, but one of the most common––and easiest to understand––is when it is used to indicate that something else also applies to a certain statement. For example:

  • バナナ好きだよ (banana mo suki da yo)
  • (I) also like bananas.

Here we can see the word “also” cleanly captures the idea of liking something else that is not explicitly stated in the sentence.

However, if you use “mo” like the English word “also” you can run into problems.

For example, let’s say you are having a conversation with your significant other:

  • Lover: 好きだよ (suki da yo)
  • You: 君好きだよ (kimi mo suki da yo)

In this case, you are intending to say that you reciprocate the love (or like) from the other person. However you might get a slap (or a punch) if you said the above. Let’s see why.

In the sentence “I also like bananas” the “also” is far away from the “bananas”, unlike “バナナも好きだよ” where it is directly after it. This signifies an important difference: the “も” is always put immediately after the word for which another thing applies. Therefore, “君も好きだよ” means, “I love you” but has the nuance there is another person that you also love. So a better way to express your reciprocal love is:

  • 君が好きだよ (boku mo kimi ga suki da yo)

I wanted to mention that if you take this sentence literally it still seems a bit odd, because it seems to have the nuance of “I love you [and someone else loves you]”. Don’t worry though, you can use this line without fearing such a misunderstanding (technically “I also love you” could also be interpreted in the same way). Or you could just say 僕好きだよ (boku mo suki da yo) since the “you” part is implied, and this sounds a bit more natural to me.

It’s important to note here that directly expressing love towards another person is not as common in Japanese culture compared to, for example in the U.S., but it seems to be becoming more common in recent years. You will see/hear it occasionally in places like manga and anime. Remember “suki” literally means “like”, but when used towards another person it can have a strong nuance, like the English word “love”.

By the way, the word “too” in English is a bit closer to “も” because it generally is right next to the word it is referencing. For example:

  • I love you too.

Saying “I too love you” just sounds weird to me, and seems to even have the nuance discussed above of “I love you, just as someone else loves you”.

Here is an article where I talk about some of the other uses of the も particle.

(Featured image taken from

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