While talking with some Japanese people in an online form, someone said 日本語上手ですね! to me. I just replied そうですか, but what would be an appropriate way to reply keeping it as less informal as possible. Another important thing is that I believe the OP was being polite to me knowing that I am not a native instead of actually talking about my Japanese as I can speak about it for myself. So, I would like to know of any response more in the lines of I'm humbled or I don't deserve kind.

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    Or if you don't buy into the ridiculous Japanese mindset of denying every good thing, you could just say "thank you".
    – istrasci
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:25
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    @istrasci I'd rather prefer not, because the Japanese have the habit of saying favorable things irrespective of the facts. I could probable be making a fool of myself. Besides, being a non-Westerner, thanking itself doesn't sound like a very reasonable response.
    – cs12b006
    Nov 12, 2016 at 16:15

4 Answers 4


There could be many ways of saying "I am not good at Japanese." depending on your personal preference and context. My favorites were

いいえ、あまり[上手]{じょうず}ではありません。 No, I am not that good at Japanese.

いいえ、あまり[上手]{じょうず}じゃないです。 Ditto

いいえ、まだ[下手]{へた}です。 No, (my Japanese) is still poor.

いいえ is broadly used when you get praised to express modesty.


The way to go is usually to just deny it a little.
Something in the lines of :



I would say:

  • そんなことないです。
  • 全然ですよ。
  • まだまだですよ。

Those means "not at all".


Somewhat formal 「恐縮{きょうしゅく}です」 can be used to acknowledge a compliment with humility and modesty (like I'm humbled, I think) without necessarily denying the truth of it. (In your case, busting out this phrase will probably reinforce their impression of your proficiency!)

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