Are you confused in Japanese?

Yokatta ja nai

Many foreign students are confused when they are learning Japanese. For example the sentence “Yokatta ja nai“.

Let’s see the following story. In school, Frank was depressed because he had lost his bag with his passport in it. That evening, Frank’s good friend Tom received a call from Frank. “Tom, the bag has been found. I left it on the train, and a nice guy took it to the station office.” Frank said, Tom said to an obviously jubilant Frank, “Yokatta ja nai.”

yokatta ja nai

yokatta ja nai

As soon as he said so, Frank replied angrily, “You are my friend, aren’t you? how cruel of you to say Yokatta ja nai.” Certainly ~ja nai is used in a number of instances to make a negative statement, including byooki ja nai and shinsetsu ja nai. That is the reason why Frank understood Tom to say “that was not good”. However, Tom’s yokatta ja nai really meant “That was great, wasn’t it? Don’t you think so?” and included a solicitation for agreement from the listener.