I very often see なんてね or some similar phrase being translated to "Just kidding"? but why does it mean this and how does the grammar behind it work?

3 Answers 3


なんて is an informal word that is used after some phrase and implies it is not important.

So when なんて is used like a standalone interjection, it means you said the previous sentence not seriously.

ね is a sentence-end particle and thus optional. You can say なんて! ("kidding!") without largely changing the meaning. なんてな is the same (sounds a bit more masculine).


The verb 言う is omitted after なんて. So you can translate it "saying (something) like that", or virtually as a subjunctive: "(as if) it be/were like that". That's why it comes to have "I'm kidding" sense.

enter image description here (Left: screen capture of 逆転裁判5, Right: the corresponding line in the English localization, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.)

A synonymous expression is なんちゃって (< なんて言っちゃって). This one also works as a slangy adjective "pretend", as in なんちゃって家族 "a pretend family".



I'd rather you were dead, just kidding.
『あんたは、死んだ方がいいよ』(Once you said it cleary, then) って本気で言ったと思う?本気じゃないよ、冗談だよ。
"I'd rather you were dead. (Once you said it cleary, then) Can I say it in earnest? NOWAY! I'm just saying it in fun."
→ I'd rather you were dead, just kidding.



You must log in to answer this question.

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