An “Amazing” Expression in Japanese: すごい Sugoi

In my previous article, I introduced an expression かっこいい”kakkoii”, which you can use to describe something or someone that is cool in Japanese. Remember to check the article for this COOL and useful expression that you can use every day!

This time, there is another expression すごい “sugoi” that I would like to introduce to everyone! I believe some of you have already heard “sugoi” before whether on the street or during conversations. Since this is a short expression that is easy to remember. In this article, I will introduce 3 expressions with “sugoi” with example conversations. Let’s take a look!

A look into すごい “sugoi”

Before diving into the introduction of “su-go-i”, let’s check the pronunciation first!

すごい Sugoi Pronunciation

➲ Hiragana: すごい

➲ Katakana: スゴイ

➲ Kanji: 凄い

Most of the time, “sugoi” can be written in both hiragana すごい, or with kanji 凄い. Sometimes, in the posts on social media, articles in magazines, or messages between friends, you might also see the word written in katakana スゴイ in order to highlight this word.

Here is the basic conjugation of this adjective “sugoi”:

Affirmative
Basic
Affirmative
Polite
Negative
Basic
-te
form
Present
Tense
すごい
sugoi
すごいです
sugoi desu
すごくない
sugoku nai
すごくて…
sugoku te
Past
Tense
すごかった。
sugo katta
すごかったです
sugo katta desu
すごくなかった
sugoku nakatta
Conjugation of Sugoi

What is the meaning of Sugoi?

First, let’s check what does the dictionary says about “sugoi”. According to goo dictionary, the definition is as follows:

Expressing the feeling of surprise

❍ Showing the degree to which the status of someone / something is extraordinary

❍ Dreadful; horrible; weird; ghastly

Generally, people use “sugoi” on much more casual occasions. With “sugoi”, you are able to express your feeling of surprise, amazement at something or someone in either a positive or a negative way.

In addition, “sugoi” can be attached before a verb, i-adjective, or na-adjective to indicate the degree of the action or status to a high level.

As mentioned in the previous part, すごい can be written in kanji as 凄い as well. The kanji character 凄 literally means “terrific“. Same within English, terrific can be negative and at the same time being positive in some way.

Sugoi in English

  • Amazing
  • Wow
  • Awesome
  • Great
  • Remarkable
  • Impressive
  • Terrific

How to use すごい sugoi?

I classify the expression “sugoi” into 3 groups. Let’s take a look!

① すごい / すごいです(ね)

People use “sugoi” to express one’s feeling of being surprised or amazing by someone or something, which is similar to “wow” in English. Besides, it is frequently used as a compliment to others.

すげえ / すげぇ “sugē”

すげえ Sugē Pronunciation

Have you heard of this before? This is another form of “sugoi” which is young people’s language, 若者言葉 “waka-mono-koto-ba”. Generally, it is inappropriate to use them when talking or texting to your superiors, professor, or people you are not close with. However, it is no problem to use to your close friends.

すごーい

すごーい Sugōi Pronunciation

You can also heard others say “sugoi” in this way with a long “o” in the middle. Sometimes, you can also find this in the manga.

② Used as an adjective

すごい + Noun

“Sugoi” can act as an adjective “形容詞 (kei-yō-shi)” attach to a noun “名詞(mei-shi)” without any conjugation made. For example, すごい雨 (heavy rain), すごい話 (amazing talk / story), or すごい食欲 (enormous appetite).

③ Used as an adverb

すご + く + Verb / i-Adjective / na-Adjective

When “sugoi” is used as an adverb “副詞 (fuku-shi)”, you need to take the い “i” in the ending away. And then, put く”ku” before verb / i-adjective / na-adjective. For example, すごく歩いた(walked long distance), すごく美味しい (extremely delicious), or すごく綺麗 (extremely beautiful).

💡 Notice

In daily conversation, you can also find native Japanese speakers frequently say “すごい歩いた”, “すごい綺麗“, “すごい美味しい“. People use “sugoi” instead “sugoku”. Of course, this is a grammar mistake. However, some native speakers say “sugoi” is more natural sometimes. One of the reasons indicates that when ご “go” attached with く”ku” together makes the pronunciation more difficult.

Learning Sugoi with conversations

すごい!

健と潤はルームメート。
健:JLPTの結果が届いた!もう早く見たいよ!
潤:ほんと?!よし、見よ!
健:あー緊張する。
潤:すごい!満点ね!おめてとう
健:ありがとう。早く先生に言いたい!
(Ken and Jun are roommates.)
Ken: I just received my JLPT score report. I can’t wait to open it!
Jun: Really! Let’s open it now!
Ken: I am really nervous right now.
Jun: Wow! You got full marks on N1. Congratulations!
Ken: Thank you. I’m going to tell the good news to my instructor.

 すごく+i-Adjective / Verb

(健と潤は昼ごはんを食べています。)
健:この後授業ある?
潤:ないよ。
健:じゃあ、サッカーしよう!すごくいい所知ってるよ。
潤:いいね!行こう!
健:最悪!雨がすごく降っている。雷もすごい
潤:なに!ついさっきまでは晴れていたのに!
(Ken and Jun are having lunch together.)
Ken: Do you have class later?
Jun: No, there is no class in the afternoon.
Ken: Let’s play soccer! I know a great place.
Jun: Great! Let’s go!
Ken: Oh, no. It’s raining heavily outside. The thunder is also terrible.
Jun: What! It was sunny 10 minutes ago.

すごく+i-Adjective / -te from

健:潤、おはよう!すごく顔色悪い
潤:昨日寝れなくて、、、
健:何があった?
潤:上の階の人が一晩中パーティーしてたみたいで、すごくうるさかったんだよ。
健:それは最悪だったね。
潤:それだけじゃなくて、ルームメイトのいびきもすごくて、本当最悪だったよ。
Ken: Jun, good morning. You look so bad.
Jun: I didn’t sleep at all last night.
Ken: What happened?
Jun: The people upstairs were having a party all night, it was really noisy.
Ken: That’s bad.
Jun: What’s even worse is that my roommate’s snoring was crazy as well.

❹ すごく+ Noun / i-Adjective, Past tense

健:昨日ついにユキとリアルで会えた。
潤:おお〜それで昨日どうだった?
健:ユキはすごい美人で、もうすごく楽しいデートだった、でも、、、
潤:でも何?
健:ユキは大食いで、すごい量すごい速さで完食してて。
潤:それはすごい、、、
健:だからお会計もすごかったよ、、、
Ken: Yesterday, I finally meet with my online friend, Yuki.
Jun: Oh, how was your date?
Ken: Yuki is a stunningly beautiful lady. I had a great date with her. But…
Jun: But what?
Ken: She is a big eater. She finished a great amount of food in just a few minutes.
Jun: Wow, that’s amazing
Ken: And, that meal cost me a lot

Summary

Hope this article helps you to better understand the usage of “sugoi”.

  • Used to deliver the feeling of being amazed, surprised by someone or something.
  • Acting as an adjective to describe anything that is amazing, surprising or terrific in both positive and negative ways.
  • Acting as an adverb to indicate the degree of the action or status to a high level.
About YUJUNG 17 Articles
Hi! I’m Yujung from Taiwan. Decided to start my career in Kansai area Japan in 2019, I’ve always considered this a right decision ever made in my life. WHY? There are way too many things waiting for me to discover, such as the charming language, spectacular nature, colorful seasons and lovely people!

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