I saw this message created by a native speaker:「よい夢{ゆめ} 」.
That seemed strange to me. I would have expected: 「よい夢 」.

My thinking right now is that:

  1. 「よい夢を」 is a straight contraction of 「よい夢をみてください」。 Such a contraction is typical of how to use Japanese in instant messaging.
  2. 「よい夢へ」 is something you would say in a conversation. And, it has more of an abstract meaning. A "good dream" is perceived as a destination towards which the speaker is hoping you will advance to.
  3. 「よい夢ありますように」 is sort of the formal version of 「よい夢へ」。I think that the meaning is like "I hope that you get into the state of having a good dream."?

Am I correct on any of points 1, 2, or 3?

  • 1
    You (and the answerers) are trying by force to translate something Japanese-speakers DO NOT say. I have never said or heard anyone say "Sweet dreams!" in the real Japanese-speaking world.
    – user4032
    Jul 15, 2014 at 1:39
  • 1
    @非回答者 yes. I agree. I chose a bad title. I should have made the title "why よい夢を instead of よい夢へ" or "if 平和へ then why not よい夢へ". Several times I've worded questions very poorly.
    – user312440
    Jul 15, 2014 at 3:01
  • @非回答者: If you read my answer again you should find that I chose my words to avoid criticisms such as "trying by force to translate". Could you enlighten us with more constructive input? (The expression よい夢を does get used in contexts where "sweet dreams" might be considered an appropriate translation (one several of possible links: おやすみなさい。良い夢を。-三山-桂依 morningmanga.com/sweetdreams)
    – Tim
    Jul 15, 2014 at 5:08

3 Answers 3

  • 「よい夢を」 is the normal* way of saying "Sweet dreams" not just in emails or instant messages but also in conversations or letters. As Kokoroatari says, 「よい年を」is also common, and is the normal way of wishing someone a happy new year. While it's true that it's a contraction (probably of 「よい夢をみてください」), the short version is more natural. In English, instead of saying "good night, sweet dreams" you could say "I wish you a good night, and I hope that you have sweet dreams" but it would sound overly formal.

  • 「~ますように」 is a pattern which indicates a prayer to a god or heavenly power (whether Shinto, Buddhist, Christian or something else). The ます form in the middle of the sentence is presumably because when you're talking to a god, you need to be extra polite. It's the form that you normally use to write tanzaku for tanabata. 「よい夢をみますように」 would be the way to say "I pray that you have good dreams" but it seems like overkill to resort to prayer, unless you're talking to someone who's troubled by recurring nightmares.

  • 「~へ」 can be used in phrases such as 「未来へ!」 which I take as meaning something like 「未来へすすめ!」 "Onwards, to the future!" However, it sounds strange to say "Onwards, to sweet dreams!" so I don't think it can be used with 「よい夢」, at least not in this sense. In the right context, 「~へ!」 might also be used as a way of making a toast (a short version of 「~へ乾杯!」), and so maybe the phrase you mention, 「平和へ」, was being used in this way. But in that case, the meaning would be closer to a celebration of peace, not a hope for more peace, so again, 「よい夢」 wouldn't fit.

*Edit: In this answer, I make it sound as if everyone uses 「よい夢を」 all the time, but 非解答者 makes the point that the cultural habit of saying something meaning "sweet dreams" is non-existent in Japanese. I (belatedly) endorse this. In fact, anyone who says 「よい夢を」 is probably thinking of the English phrase "sweet dreams" and trying to provide a Japanese equivalent. However, if you want to say "sweet dreams" in Japanese, I think that 「よい夢を」 is the best fit.

  • What I did was (1) I know "平和へ" is ok, (2) "平和" is very similar to "よい夢", (3) I swapped "よい夢" with "平和" ---> "よい夢へ". The structure appeared to me to be: if you want to achieve some abstract good thing, say that good thing and place "へ" after it.
    – user312440
    Jul 15, 2014 at 2:19
  • I've added slightly to the last part of my answer. Do you have in mind a situation where 「平和へ」 can be used? The context might help make the meaning clearer.
    – Kyon Smith
    Jul 15, 2014 at 12:33
  • I've heard "平和への道" and maybe "大日本の優勝(へ/に)、かんぱい!!!". My sense was just to take an abstract good thing, place "へ" after it, and leave it at that. But, I've never had anyone tell me to do that, or read it in a book. I'm totally shooting from the hip. So, yeah, I'm sure I got this one wrong. thanks.
    – user312440
    Jul 16, 2014 at 0:27

Suggestion (1) sounds correct:

夢 is typically used with the verb 見る and the particles を or に:

母のことを夢に見た | I saw my mother in a dream
父に会った夢を見た | I dreamt that I met my father

So, as you suggest in (1), the verb in よい夢を is probably 見る.

The よい_を construction is used with other words. よい週末を comes to mind. In that case the verb would be something like 過ごす, which also takes the particle を:

よい週末を過ごしください。| Have a good weekend.

I not sure what verb you have in mind for よい夢へ to be used in an expression wishing sweet dreams - your (2) and (3) do not sound right. In Japanese dreams are "seen" or "described" or "had" in the sense of 持つ rather than in the sense of ある/exist. However, 夢 does seem to get used with へ in expressions like 夢への道 which would mean "the road to your dreams". In this case I think the full expression would be 「夢へ歩む道」.

BTW: If I google よい夢へ then I get one result: 「よい夢へのイメージに繋がる4つのポイント」(last line in 1st section of http://serendipity-japan.com/meaningofadream-489.html). But again, this is still not the use you had in mind of wishing someone "sweet" dreams. I take it to mean the "four key points related to the image of your ["sweet"] dream" and expect the full expression to be something like: 良い夢[に対して]の [ イメージに繋がる4つのポイント ]but somebody must be able to improve on this.

  • With regard to "what verb I had in mind for よい夢へ" I don't see it that way. In Japanese, unlike English, you don't need a verb in every sentence. By using just "へ", I tried create an implied action. That saves me from not knowing the verbs that might match "よい夢へ". Because I don't know articles or proper word pairings, I always try to maximize the implied meaning of what little I dare to say. What verb did I intended to pair with "よい夢へ"? I have no idea...
    – user312440
    Jul 15, 2014 at 2:09
  • 3
    How were you seeing it in you (1) & (2) - both refer to verbs? Verbs and predicates are as important in Japanese grammar as they are in English. Both allow for ellipsis and are often comparable. Your questions is similar to asking why do people drink a toast "To the bride and groom" but exclaim "For crying out loud"?
    – Tim
    Jul 15, 2014 at 3:12
  • I just don't agree. Japanese does not revolve around verbs. They only have like 4 verb tenses. In English, there are at least 12. The only rule that is always true in English is that every sentence must have a verb. Personally, when I listen in English, I buffer everything until I hear the verb tense in the main clause. The primary verb, and its tense, frames everything else in the sentence. What happened, and when, can be framed inside or outside a given Japanese sentence. Anyway, thank you for investing your time to help me learn Japanese.
    – user312440
    Jul 15, 2014 at 4:05
  • 3
    @user312440, "The only rule that is always true in English is that every sentence must have a verb." That cannot be true. Even if you relax this and say that it's a rule of English, this would mean that you don't consider "Sweet dreams!" a sentence, and so, the rule is irrelevant for this discussion.
    – dainichi
    Jul 15, 2014 at 5:50

よいXを is an expression you can find in many other cases. Mostly with 年 and 旅 . It should be followed by 祈ります or something on the same line, meaning I pray/hope that you have a good X. Here most certainly it is よい夢を見て下さい, I mean, this is what the sentence means, but the usage of yoi makes dropping the verb more natural. If you want to use the verb, いい夢を見て下さい is probably more frequently used.

Ending the sentence at the postposition is perfectly fine with a lot a postpositions, and it's particularly frequent in written language (a lot of advertisements uses this style).

I pray you will have よい旅を。よい年を。御運を。
Let's go toward よい明日へ。 (not literally: a good future/a better tomorrow)
I'll wait/Stay well また会う日まで
Stay 元気で(いて)ね。達者でな。

Sometimes it happens in the middle of a sentence. 

お元気で(いて)ね is an example.

This is a sign I've seen on the net:


meaning まだ平気(だ)と(思って)飛び出す心が事故のもと(だ)

Actually you can drop postpositions too:

(The inversion of topic/subject/object with a verb is another interesting phenomenon.)

However you can't do anything like this if it's not obvious for you and the listener what's the verb the should follow: it MUST be clear from context. So if you say よい夢へ it's not clear what you mean, you can't just end it with へ because is convenient, it needs to make sense in the context.

If you find the answer unsatisfactory please post a comment instead of just downvoting.

  • I agree that 「祈る」 is a transitive verb. The basic question is whether, in daily conversation, it is more natural to say 「よい夢を」or「よい夢へ」. I've never heard a sentence end in 「を」, but I have heard sentences ending in 「ヘ」。Probably ending with 「を」 and then an implicit verb is an IM convention? You'd not end with an 「を」 in conversation?
    – user312440
    Jul 14, 2014 at 22:26
  • It's perfectly fine with a lot of postpositions. Jul 14, 2014 at 22:42
  • You wouldn't say yoi in a casual conversation. If you use he it should be in a context that allows it, which definitely isn't "sweet dreams". よい旅を。よい明日へ。御運を。 Oh, omitting the verb is more frequent in written expressions, in spoken language their usage is very limited. Jul 14, 2014 at 22:54
  • Edited the answer to clarify and improve it. Jul 15, 2014 at 10:02

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