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When can one use the sentence ender ぞ? I've only ever heard it anime, so I'm unsure of it's actual usage in the real world. Is it not used that often or limited to specific age/gender groups?

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I'm also curious. Teaching English in Japan I've heard this from a wide range of people. From adults to children (as young as 8). However I'm not sure of the nuance nor what impression it gives. –  phirru Jun 5 '11 at 7:41
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See the 大辞泉 entry for a pretty good answer to your question. –  flamingspinach Jun 5 '11 at 9:00
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I would assume that zo (and for that matter ze) can go anywhere yo can go. –  dotnetN00b May 5 '12 at 19:27
    
@dotnetn00b I think can follow a noun, but and can't. –  snailboat Jun 6 '13 at 20:24
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Borrowing from page 277 of this grammar textbook and the Daijisen entry flamingspinach linked to, ぞ is a (primarily masculine) sentence-ending particle used to

  • express strong intent (そうはさせないぞ),
  • persuade someone to go along with your action (そろそろ行くぞ), or
  • (directed at yourself) indicate your judgment or resolution (うまくいったぞ).

なあ can usually substitute for ぞ in the third category. (This is covered in the same section as ぞ in the abovelinked Google Books preview.) Note that when using ぞ in the second category, ぞ follows the dictionary form of the verb. This is in contrast to ぜ, which often follows the volitional form when the intent is to get someone to participate in an action with you:

行くぞ。 I'm going [and so should you].

行こうぜ。 Let's go. (More emphatic than よ.)

ぞ never follows the polite form, and is only used toward friends and persons of lower status.

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As far as I noticed, many people use

行くぞ - Lets's go

and it is used like 行こう/行きましょう(意向形)with a bit stronger sense when talking to group of people, mainly if speaker is kind of coordinator / leader.

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hehe... in those cases i prefer to use 行こうではないでしょうか –  Mark Hosang Jun 5 '11 at 14:24
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@Mark: 行こうではないでしょうか sounds incorrect to me and a correct form should be 行こうではありませんか. It is less pushing and more polite compared to 行くぞ. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 5 '11 at 16:04
    
You are right Ito, just re-checked my book and the correct forms were 「行こうじゃありませんか」 which is pretty much the same phrase you typed... –  Mark Hosang Jun 5 '11 at 16:11
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Yes, it is a very emphatic sentence-ending particle. Also ぜ. They seems stronger than よ (in my opinion). I think they (ぞ/ぜ) are very informal though, so where you could use よ for emphasis in a polite and/or formal way, you probably shouldn't use these.

I think their usage must be a regional or demographic thing. When I lived in Osaka, I never heard it at all, and sometimes another gaijin friend of mine would use it around our Japanese friends (mostly young people in their 20's), they would always give an amused laugh. Maybe I'm over-generalizing it because of the somewhat limited group I was around, but it doesn't seem to be a Kansai thing. Maybe other places use it more commonly?

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While it's 'standard Japanese' in the sense that it's 標準語, it isn't used in Kansai at all, and will elicit chuckles. Just like saying, ~だよね would. –  jmac Jun 18 '13 at 0:33
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