How to Use “Kakkoii” Correctly in Japanese?

kakkoi feature image

“KAWAII かわいい”, “OISHII おいしい”, I believe you might have already known these two Japanese expressions which are widely used to describe anything that is “cute” and “delicious”. How about “kakkoii“? Have you ever heard of this Japanese phrase when walking on the street? Or during the conversation of a group of people?

We all can’t deny the significance when it comes to the learning of adjectives. Adjectives can help us express our feeling toward almost anything. And with more adjectives being used, we can describe them even more precisely.

This article will show you the introduction to the phrase “kakkoii”, and how to use “kakkoii” correctly. Besides, in the last part, 3 conversations using “kakkoi” are provided for you to check how to use “kakkoii” correctly in daily life.

A look into “kakkoii”

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Hiragana: かっこいい

Katakana: カッコイイ

Kanji: 格好いい

While the hiragana form かっこいい is the most frequently used one, we can find “kakkoi” written in another two forms, katakana, and kanji, as shown above. The katakana form often appears in contexts such as posters, magazines, comics, or social media like Instagram.

“Kakkoi” can be used as an adjective to describe someone or something as handsome, cool, or good-looking.

Besides, “kakkoi” can be used as individual slang to express one’s feelings as well! 『かっこいい!!』

Also, you can hear young guys, sometimes some adults, use the term カッケー “Kakke-“. This is so-called the 若者言葉 (waka mono kotoba), literally young people’s word. Young people make variations on the end of adjectives or make new words.

Before diving into the definition “kakkoii”, let’s check the pronunciation first!

Please be careful with the way to pronounce “っ”, which is also known as “small tsu” or “silent tsu”, between か and こ. “っ” is derived from “つ (tsu)”, but we don’t have a sound for “っ”. When we have “small tsu” between the words, we should make a pause. Take かっこ (kakko) for example, we can consider each character to be one syllable. In this case, かっこ is made with three syllables and we need to stop for one syllable between か and こ.

I have explained in another article. Check also the page for “Pronunciation of ittekimasu” in What’s the meaning of “Ittekimasu”(行ってきます)? Go to this page for another pronunciation example for “っ”!

The Etymology

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Let’s break this adjective into two parts, “kakko” and “ii”, to see how this phrase is formed!

❶ かっこ “kakko”

This part is derived from a noun 格好 (かっこう, kakkou). The definition of this word is “appearance, the figure, or shape”.

❷ いい “ii”

This is an adjective that generally means “good” in English. This is a quite interesting word that can be used both individually or attach with other words. When “ii” is attached with other words, there are two ways.

いい (ii) + noun

  • いい匂い (ii nioi): a good smell
  • いい夢  (ii yume): a good dream
  • いいセンス(ii sensu): a good sense of …
  • いい成績 (ii seiseki): a good score
  • いい考え (ii kangae): a good idea

✎ noun + が (ga) / は (wa) + いい (ii)

Generally, “いい” means “good”. From the table below, We can see that both “ii” and “yoi” belong to the basic (dictionary) form. But when this word turns into the past tense or negative form, we can only use “yoi”.

Why do we need to know about the conjugation of “いい”? That’s because when we are making a sentence we might want to tell others that something “was” good or something “was not” good.

Basic
Affirmative
Affirmative
Formal
Negative
Formal – 1
Negative
Formal – 2
Present
Tense
いい / よい
ii / yoi
いいです。
ii desu
よくないです。
yoku nai desu
よくありません。
yoku arimasen
Past
Tense
よかった。
yokatta
よかったです。
yokatta desu
よくなかったです。
yoku nakatta desu
よくありませんでした。
yoku arimasen deshita
Conjugation of “いい”

With this sentence structure, we can make sentences like below to say something is good.

JapaneseRōmajiEnglish
今日の天気がいい。tenki ga iiThe weather is good today.
彼は運がいい。kare wa un ga iiHe is lucky.
彼は頭がいい。kare wa atama ga iiHe is smart.
彼は記憶力がいい。kare wa kiokuryoku ga iiHe has a good memory.

The sentences provided above are all in present basic tense, try to change the sentence to past tense or with the negative form!

格好がいい ⇢ ⇢ ⇢ ⇢ かっこいい

kakkou ga ii ⇢ ⇢ ⇢ ⇢ kakkoii

From this structure, we can also find that “kakkoii” is a colloquial form that comes from 格好がいい “kakkou ga ii”.

What is the opposite of “kakkoii”?

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As I have mentioned above, the negative form of いい can be よくない or よくありません.

Apart from that, there is an antonym word for いい, which is 悪い ”warui”, literally means “bad”.
Therefore, the opposite of “kakkoii” can be write in かっこ悪い”kakko warui”.

Generally speaking, the difference between “yokunai” and “warui” is that using “warui” to describe something or someone feels too straightforward. Therefore, using “yokunai”, literally means “not good”, is less direct.

How can I use “Kakkoii”?

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Regardless of human, animal, or things, female or male, this phrase can be used to describe a wide range of nouns.

I classify those that can be described as “kakkoii” into 4 groups. Let’s take a look below!

☻ Handsome / Cool / Good-looking appearance or style of someone (human) or animals

その俳優はかっこいいsono haiyū wa kakkoiiThat actor is good-looking.
その選手はとてもかっこいいsono senshu wa totemo kakkoiiThat athlete is very cool.
あなたの犬はかっこいいですね。Anata no inu wa kakkoii desu neYour dog is cool.
彼の髪型はかっこいいkare no kamigata wa kakkoiiHis hairstyle is cool.

☻ Cool / Attractive behavior, voice, spirit or attitude

お父さんの働いてる姿はかっこいいotōsan no hatarai teru sugata wa kakkoiiMy father looks cool when he is working.
彼の演奏がかっこいいkare no ensō ga kakkoiiHis musical performance is cool.
あの酒をつくる職人はかっこいいano sake o tsukuru shokunin wa kakkoiiThe craftsman who brews sake is cool.
このバンドはめちゃくちゃかっこいいkono bando wa mechakucha kakkoiiThis band is extremely cool.

☻ Cool Things (objects)

あのかっこいいサングラスをかけているのは誰ですか?ano kakkoii sangurasu o kakete iru no wa daredesu kaWho is the person there wearing cool sunglasses?
かっこいいkakkoii kurumaa cool car

Summary

As for myself, I use this slang a lot in various situations. Most of the time, it’s when I encountered a difficulty that can’t solve. At the moment, someone passes by just give me a hand without any hesitation and a word. I would unconsciously say KAKKOII! How about you? What is the moment that you would say kakkoii?

  • Opposite of kakkoii is “kakko warui
  • Kakkoii can use to describe human, animal, object, attitude, spirit, voice, and behavior
  • English translation can be handsome, cool, attractive, good-looking.
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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