Consider the following sentence:


I recently received a translation of the article containing the sentence above where 軈{やが}て was originally translated as "soon". Precisely:

Soon I will be stepping down from the position of CEO. However [...]

This made sense, to the extent of my knowledge and according to my dictionaries.

However, a couple of days later I received a correction where the translator apologized saying that it should be interpreted as "One day" instead:

One day I will be stepping down from the post of CEO. However [...]

Now, in English there is quite a considerable obvious difference between "soon" and "one day". So my question is: are there possible different nuances of 軈て or simply it was a political move to avoid rumors or hide what's going on at the "higher floors" of the company?

Note: to give more background, I'm talking of the translation of a speech from the CEO of a large Japanese holdings. The English translation was sent to the foreign employees (a large proportion of the total) of a subsidiary of such group. It is assumed then that many of the recipients could not read the original Japanese version. Also, the original translator is a Japanese native speaker.

  • I can't read it.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 2:52
  • @user4092 You mean [軈て]{やがて}? I had to consult a dictionary as well. Maybe there should be furigana in the question
    – siikamiika
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 3:44
  • Yeah sorry I was actually planning to do it and forgot.. :p
    – Tommy
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


First, 軈て is almost always written in hiragana. I could not read it without googling.

In this sentence, やがて only means "one day", "in the end", "eventually", or "somewhere in the future", "sooner or later". It does not mean "soon".

  • この赤ちゃんも、やがては大人になる。 This baby will eventually become an adult.
  • 人間はやがて死ぬ。 Human beings are mortal.

大辞林 defines this as:

③いつとはわからないが,将来においては実現すると予測するさま。事の行き着くところ。結局。 「日々の努力が-実を結ぶ」

Even in sentences like these, I feel "eventually" is closer, although "before long" may be usable.

  • やがて日が暮れた。
  • やがて二人は愛し合うようになった。

I feel translating やがて as "soon" is usually misleading in modern Japanese. In archaic Japanese it often meant "soon" or even "instantly".

  • Thanks for the answer. Then the question is why most of JP-EN dictionaries translate it as "soon - before long"? Anyway, it was written in kanji in the original source (an article online).
    – Tommy
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 4:41
  • 3
    Some large monolingual dictionaries like to list an outdated original meaning before a modern common meaning, but I don't know why even jisho.org and ALC like "before long" that much. Anyway I think examples here are very natural and these all mean "sooner or later", "in course of time", "eventually".
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 5:08

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