A: この資料、もう捨てましょうか。
B: あ、ちょっと待ってください。
B: 捨てる前に、ここをコピーしてください。

(A: kono shiryou, mou sutemashou ka.
B: a, chotto matte kudasai.
B: suteru mae ni, koko o kopi--shite kudsai.)

I know that mou with a past-tense verb means already. But what does it mean with this verb tense? Or even with もう捨てますか。

1 Answer 1


It can mean many things with present tense

  • "anymore"


  • "soon, almost"


  • "again, also, another, the other"


  • or it can simply emphasize the speaker's feelings


Source: http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/218382/m0u/

Your example is actually a very good one and gets at the some classic Japanese indirectness (though every language has this type of thing).

Basically when the speaker says:


They mean:


But are making it more polite by making the verb about themselves instead of the person they are speaking to.

So the meaning here is actually "anymore", though obviously you can't translate it literally like that.

  • 「もう(そろそろ)寝ましょう。」の「もう」はどうなります?「もう(そろそろ)捨てましょうか。」の「もう」と似てますけど・・・
    – chocolate
    May 29, 2015 at 14:52
  • @Unknown Could you elaborate on that in english?
    – dotnetN00b
    May 29, 2015 at 15:06
  • @dotnetN00b Sorry... I tried to say: How about the もう in もう(そろそろ)寝ましょう? It looks similar to the もう in もう(そろそろ)捨てましょうか, no?
    – chocolate
    May 29, 2015 at 15:08
  • @Unknown That's an excellent question and very difficult to translate. In a sense this is kind of like 「もう(遅いから、)寝ましょう」 so the もう is "already" or "soon". But there's also an aspect of emphasizing the speaker's feelings. The speaker wants the person they are addressing to sleep (or at least thinks the person they are addressing should sleep or will sleep soon). It's very difficult to capture this meaning and nuance while at the same time the common usage of this phrase (which is very common in Japanese). In English adults will say to kids "time for bed", but between adults is much rarer.
    – jhenn
    May 29, 2015 at 15:29
  • @Unknown (cont) I ran out of characters. Between adults you might just have "when were you planning on going to bed?" or "are you going to stay up much longer?" or "how long were you planning to stay up?" These are like completely different phrases, but it's the closest meaning I can think of on the spot. I'm glad I'm not a translator!
    – jhenn
    May 29, 2015 at 15:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .