I would like to know how to express "I was supposed" in japanese

For example, in the sentences :

- Did you meet John yesterday ?
- I was supposed to but he cancelled


- I am supposed to do my homework but I really don't want to. 

Is there a generic way to translate that idea ? or is it case by case ? I am thinking maybe using ようになる but i am not really confident. somthing like :


or using べき maybe


Am I on the right direction ?

  • In the context of the question "Did you meet John yesterday?", the assertion that "I was supposed to" is superfluous. In Japanese, you should say as little as possible. Trying to shoehorn whether you were supposed to meet "John" in the context of that question will not generate natural sounding Japanese. The question "Were you suppose to meet John yesterday? How did it go?" tees-up a context in which you can generate a natural sounding answer. See, the structure of the question allows you to imply stuff. In your question, there is not way to imply "I was supposed to" Hope that makes sense.
    – Wrythe
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:01
  • I would use のに instead of けど. 宿題をするべきなのに、まったくやる気がない. 会うはずだったけど、キャンセルされた。
    – Yang Muye
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:31
  • @natlang well, these are easy questions just to make an example. What about this case : "you were supposed to meet john yesterday, weren't you ? - I was but he cancelled..." how do you express the fact that something was known, supposed to happened but didnt ?
    – Steven
    Jun 29, 2015 at 4:12
  • @Yang, thx for that ^^ so, i guess i was right lol
    – Steven
    Jun 29, 2015 at 4:14
  • @StevenBENET I'm not a native speaker, but I'd say this sounds like natural Japanese: (Bob) "昨日、Johnさんと会うつもりでしたか。(Jim) "予定は予定でしたけど、やっぱりダメでした。" Next, with regard to "I was supposed to do my homework..." the assertion that "you are supposed to do homework" is implied by the nature of homework. Of course you are supposed to do it!!! No need to say it. Now, this is a much more difficult sentence to say in Japanese: "I was NOT supposed to do my homework, but I did it anyway."
    – Wrythe
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


I would say

昨日{きのう}Johnに会{あ}ったかい? for "Did you meet John yesterday?"

その筈{はず}だったけど、彼{かれ}にキャンセルされた for "I was supposed to but he cancelled."
(彼が中止{ちゅうし}した, if you like non-transliterated words, but this sounds stilted.)

宿題をやらなければならないが、全然やりたくない for "I am supposed to do my homework but I really don't want to."

  • Ok, so that confirm what I was thinking : there is not one way to translate this idea, 場合によって違うね
    – Steven
    Jun 29, 2015 at 8:14
  • @Steven BENET: Oui, c'est vrai. (Ou encore, ça dépend.)
    – eltonjohn
    Jun 29, 2015 at 8:19

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