The adverb もう (
anymore, depending on whether the sentence is affirmative or negative.
The literal meaning of もう is to indicate something that ended unexpectedly, something that is no longer in the state it was in before.
This meaning explains the reason for the two translations of もう, as we see into more detail below.
In this post we learn more about the meaning of もう, how it is formed, and when もう is used through real example sentences.
How もう is formed
もう is an adverb and as such is used to modify verbs and adjectives in a sentence.
There are no specific rules that indicate where an adverb should be placed in a sentence.
Nonetheless, it is common to find adverbs at the beginning of the sentence (although not necessary). もう modifies affirmative verbs in the past tense (translated as
already) or negative verbs (translated as
not yet again,
もう is an adverb in Japanese that does not derive from any noun ("true adverb")
It's already finished.
もう is the opposite of まだ, which indicates something that is unexpectedly still going on.
It's not finished yet.
The first translation we saw of もう is
already. As said previously, もう assumes this meaning when the verb in the sentence is in the past affirmative form.
I already did that.
In this simple example we see the verb やる (
to do) conjugated in the past tense: やった. When preceded by もう the phrase translates as
have already done (something).
Literally, もう means that: "although I expected it to not be done, it actually is" (
Did you already know that?
However, when もう is used in a negative sentence, its meaning changes to
I won't do it again.
This sentence still contains the verb やる (
to do), this time conjugated in the negative: やらない. The mere fact that the verb changes conjugation means that the translation of もう is no longer
already but in this case it becomes
Literally, もう means that: "although I expected it to still be there, it's actually gone" (
I have no more money.
もう to mean "more"
Another meaning of もう can be
Hold on a little longer.
Again the translation of もう comes from the fact that I expected something to be finished, but it really isn't (
Special expressions with もう
Complete access to all the material published in the past and published new every week. Many more audio resources: listen to original audio sentences and dialogues with captions and explanations. Full dialogues to explain every grammar, word, or kanji in the details in a real Japanese context. All the material comes from original Japanese sources and websites, we do all the work to select the best material. We publish new articles, grammars, dialogues, audio, and many updates every week. By joining GokuGoku you will have complete access to all material published today and in the future.
Support the website
Our supporters have access to extra explanations, examples, audio, and more 🙏🏼Support us to unlock
Examples of もう
Have you already done your homework?
Yes, I've already done them.
I have already brushed my teeth.