Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

そろそろ and もうすぐ can both be translated as 'soon', but I feel they have different uses and connotations.

My take on it is that そろそろ is slightly more formal and has more of a meaning of 'It's about time (we)...' as in this example:

そろそろ出ましょうか? Shall we get going? / Isn't it about time we go?

Whereas もうすぐ sounds more urgent, and has more of a meaning of 'almost' or 'just about to', like in the following example:

もうすぐ夏休みだ。 Summer vacation is just around the corner.

Can these be used interchangeably? Can I say the following sentence:


To me it sounds a bit stiff and formal.

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I see little difference in the level of formality. もうすぐ may be, relatively, a bit more casual or colloquial than そろそろ, but, I can't say that そろそろ is a formal or stiff word in general.

Only そろそろ has the meaning of "expected time", "high time", "it's about time". You can just say 「そろそろ…。」 when you want to leave now, to interrupt a boring discussion, or to change a situation in general. You cannot say 「もうすぐ…。」 in such cases.

And in your example:


Both of these are okay, and the difference is small. But if you're innocently celebrating the upcoming, happy vacation, I think the former fits better. To me, the latter might sound a bit less exciting, or might sound like some kind of action is expected.

もうすぐ夏休みだ! いっぱい遊ぶぞ!
もうすぐお正月! (in an ad for a travel package, etc.)

そろそろお正月! (in an ad for year-end oosoji goods, etc.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.