According to any definitions I'm aware of, I don't understand the phrase "一応褒めている". 一応 is pretty tricky (for me, anyhow), so I'm sure I'm overlooking something, but what does it mean here and how would you translate it? "Tentatively", "to some extent", make little sense and seem like they'd come off impolite. What's 一応 mean here?

  • Does " at least" also fit into 一応, doesn't it? Dec 11, 2015 at 10:37
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    A bit more context might be helpful here. Dec 11, 2015 at 11:50
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    「一応」 has several different and very subtle meanings/nuances when used colloquially. You would definitely need to provide more context to receive a good answer.
    – user4032
    Dec 13, 2015 at 0:18
  • you are absolutely right in that it doesn't translate well! If you provide more context in 一応褒めている it would be helpful.
    – Jun Sato
    May 6, 2022 at 6:53

3 Answers 3


一応 is difficult to translate directly.

It is appropriate to use together with 褒{ほ}めている (praising) when it might not be entirely obvious to the listener that they are receiving praise (or that the speaker is intending to give praise). It is used to clarify something to the listener that they might not have understood. It can be substituted with the phrase "in case you didn't realize...", which would be "念{ねん}のために言{い}うが"

Here's an example scenario:

Alice says something to praise Bob, but Bob doesn't realize that they are words of praise (or maybe they were worded so ambiguously that even Alice herself understands that someone might miss that they were intended as praise). Bob gives a look like he didn't just receive praise (perhaps a blank stare, frown of an offended or perplexed person). Alice clarifies to Bob that she is praising him by saying: 一応褒めている.


一応 ( いちおう ) means something like "for the time being, anyway(s), or At the bare minimum."

You can understand it better by inference:

たいおう 対応 means "something that fits perfectly appropriately for the situation)

対応する場所においてください = please place it in a spot that makes sense

Anyway, perhaps the best translation I find is via jisho.org: "tentatively, for the time being" as far as いちおう goes.

一応褒めている = well anyway, we're/he/she is praising [it] (presumably because it has some good qualities that are evident but there could be things to look more closely into)

Contextually something like that would fit if someone, say, brought you a really difficult to get fruit, but didn't necessarily tell you how. You would "praise them for it" (for the benefit of the doubt kinda) although you might find out later they chopped down the tree to get the fruit... So the 一応 kinda alludes to an uncertainty about definite conclusions, but since Japan is the land of politeness, you would want to praise someone first and then ask questions later, and that's kinda what this means.


If you can provide some context, we can assist you more. That said, taken in isolation.... 一応ほめている、can be used in 2 scenarios I can think of top of my head.

One is where giving an immediate praise is expected, like when a 5 year old draws something with crayon and asks you if it's well done. Before you offer constructive critique or chuckle or anything, you better go WOW THAT's WONDERFUL!!! before you say/do anything. That's 一応褒める。

Yet another is more complex; where the author thinks that the subject is worthy of praise, like, say, a baseball commentator A thinks that a player deserves a lot of positive remarks. He references commentator B who is more critical of the player, but in the critique the commentator B at least admits some good things about the player (一応褒めている)...which is followed by something like "but he should give the player more praise and recognition."

Without 褒める、takin in just 一応, as others pointed out, "for the time being" or "for now" like if "Guten Tag" was the only German you know, one might write in a diary saying ドイツ人にあったので一応GUten Tagっていっといた。

Lastly, it could be "It's not perfect but" or "This is not what you imagine typically, but", like when you have strange two-wheeled bike-like thing that doesn't look like a bike, you can say 一応、自転車です!!そう見えないけど(笑)In this usage, think of it like "I know you have reservations agreeing with me, but FOR ONE SECOND agree with me."

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