Languages › Japanese Hontou Means "Really" in Japanese Japanese Words Share Flipboard Email Print Ludwine PROBST / 500px / Getty Images Japanese Essential Japanese Vocabulary History & Culture Japanese Grammar By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated June 30, 2019 Those of us for whom English is our first language might not realize how much we use the word "really" in everyday conversations. Often, someone will tell us a startling fact or make a somewhat surprising statement and the natural response is, "Really?" There are many ways to say the word "really" for speakers of Japanese. One of the most common ways is hontou. Writing and Saying Hontou Japanese Characters: 本当。 (ほんとう。)Pronunciation of "Hontou." Other Ways to Say "Really?" hontou ni: "Really," however, there is a stronger emphasis on the ni so it tends to be a stronger version of the word in verbal and written form. Examples of "really" in a Japanese formal conversation are: Hontou ni hajimete desu ka? ("Is it really your first time?"); Hontou ni yoku nite iru! ("She’s really like you!"); Hontou ni sono saabisu wa tadadesuka? ("So is your service really free?").hontou desu ka: "Are you sure?" can be used in place of hontou in formal situations. Hontou desu ka allows you to express more doubt when saying "really?" in Japanese.sou desu ka: "Is that so?" or "Are you sure?'hontoudesu: "It is true," or "It is a fact."honki: "Really." Hon means true, and ki means spirit or state of being. Example: Honki desu ka? ("Are you serious?") Resources and Further Reading “Hontou?” Nihongo De Care-Navi, Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, 2019.“Question to Teacher: HONTOU versus HONTOUNI.” Japanese From Zero, Yes Japan, 17 July 2009.