How should I decide to choose either「万が一の場合」vs「念のために」?

「万が一」 , by itself, cannot directly substituted for 「念のために」, right? But, adding 「の場合」 makes 「万が一の場合」and「念のために」 pretty much the same?

2 Answers 2


In meaning, the following can be said:



念のために + (verb phrase)」 means "to (verb phrase) beforehand just in case something happens on an off chance."


万が一の場合 + (verb phrase)」 means "to (verb phrase) in response in case something happens on an off chance"

That is the huge difference; Thus, I stated #1.

In order to use 「万が一の場合」 to describe what to do in advance, one needs to add 「に備えて」(= in preparation for)、「のために」(= for), etc. to it. This is what I meant to say in #2.

  • I got it. So, it's like, before an exam, 念のため you should review your notes one more time. And, 万が一の場合、you should take an extra pencil (in case the first one breaks).
    – Wrythe
    May 27, 2015 at 18:14
  • @natlang No, more like, 念のため you should take an extra pencil vs 万が一の場合, ask your neighbor for a spare pencil. The key difference is that with 念のため you are specifying what to do before the bad thing happens, and with 万が一の場合 you are specifying what to do when the bad thing happens. May 27, 2015 at 18:41

Definitely not the same. While a dictionary might tell you they both translate to "just in case", 念のため is the more general here. 万が一 has a negative connotation. It's denoting something bad might or will happen. One of the examples here shows it translated as "in the worst case scenario". Their usage is also quite different.

Top level definitions would look like:
念のため: Just to be sure
万が一: In case something bad happens

The numerous examples here don't make it painfully obvious, but they should help.

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