I was in Tokyo earlier this year and one thing I noticed people saying a lot was something that sounded like anno.

It sounded to me like an uncertain pause in a sentence, like:

I'd like, er... (anno) one of those please

Is there an equivalent in Japanese of the English 'er...'?

If so, how would I use it in a basic Japanese sentence such as ordering drinks?

2 Answers 2


You heard あのう anō, which is a bit like "ahem" or "well", used to get someone's attention and prepare the listener to what you're going to say.

A better substitute for "er" would be えっと/ええと. To order a beer you could say



(if you're asked by the waiter).

If you're trying to get the waiter's attention, it's better to use あのう.

Also check

  • 1
    But surely what OP was hearing was あのう, which is also a common space-filling word in Japanese?
    – senshin
    Nov 4, 2015 at 20:24
  • 1
    @senshin I answered the last two questions "Is there an equivalent [...]? [...] ordering drinks?" as well as the question title "What's the Japanese for 'er...' [...]?" I guess you're right in assuming that the OP also wants to know about あのう, but it doesn't really say so explicitly. Let me update my answer.
    – Earthliŋ
    Nov 4, 2015 at 20:31

You heard right (more or less), and you're assumption is right. "I'd like... uh... a beer". "Etto" (sometimes with the E longer than other times) also works similarly and is more formal... if you can believe that.

It can also be used to get someone's attention, by simply stating either rather blankly. Tone and other words appended can change this from harmless to angry.

Another usage is just to buy time. Translation wise it would probably the same, but also colloquially could sound more like, "Let's see..." like you might say while looking over a menu while your server anxiously awaits you to decide.

Basic usage will sound different since the variable in the sentence (drinks in this case) are located in a different part of the sentence. For example if you're asked what you want, a valid reply might be.


In short... both are pretty flexible.

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