When someone says: chotto matte te, why does the te mean "... and I'll be back shortly". What's the logic behind it?

Why aren't there special expressions such as chotto matte X, where X could mean "I'll give food to my cat" or "I'll need sign an important document for Toyota" or "I'll fix my laptop which was broken by little sister"? Why come that te means specifically "...and I'll be back shortly"? And why is it "te"?

  • 1
    chyotto matte tte <- It's 「ちょっと[待]{ま}って 」(chotto matte te ), not 「ちょっと待ってって 」(chotto matte tte ), right?
    – chocolate
    Sep 20, 2017 at 5:59
  • @Chocolate I think so
    – Kommi
    Sep 20, 2017 at 6:09
  • The explanation/answer would be different in the two cases pointed out by @Chocolate.
    – keithmaxx
    Sep 20, 2017 at 9:33
  • I always thought it was related to using "te" as slang for "wa", e.g. "これてなに" instead of "これはなんですか". So it's kind of like "chotto matte ha", omitting the apology/explanation for making you wait, but I'm just making this up now.
    – user2141
    Sep 20, 2017 at 13:15
  • 「待まってて」 is just a colloquial way to say 「待まってて」.
    – vdudouyt
    Sep 27, 2017 at 6:40

4 Answers 4


(1) chyotto matte tte
(2) why does the tte mean "... and I'll be back shortly".

(1) ちょっと待{ま}ってって





「I'll be back shortly」って思{おも}ってるのに。

(2) Why don't you wait for me a moment in spite of my saying "Please wait a moment"? I'm thinking "I'll be back shortly."

If "(1) chyotto matte tte" is "(1)' chyotto matte te ちょっと待って", it is a short form of "ちょっと待っていてください", which implies that "すぐ戻りますからちょっと待っていてください Would you wait a moment, because I'll be back shortly?"

The second て in ちょと待って is "an auxiliary indicates continuing action" according to Jisho.org here, so the phrase means "Keep waiting for a moment.​"

chyotto matte X, where X could mean "I'll give food to my cat" or "I'll need sign an important document for Toyota" or "I'll fix my laptop which was broken by little sister"?

chyotto matte X

ちょっと待って X

「ちょっと待って X」

「ちょっと待って、 X(だから)」


"Wait a moment, please, because I'll do X".

  • the "いてください" in ちょっと待っていてください" means "[you] please go", right? how come it implies "I will be back in a moment"?
    – Kommi
    Sep 20, 2017 at 6:41
  • ahh, "いてください" is a polite request, rather? then why "待っていてください" and not just "待ってください"?
    – Kommi
    Sep 20, 2017 at 6:46
  • @kommi: Yes, いてください" is a polite request. The second て in 待ってて indicates continuing action of 待つ, so if you say 待ってください it means only "Wait", while 待っていてください or 待ってて means "Keep waiting", then the whole meaning of the phrase means "Keep waiting for my return in a short time."
    – user20624
    Sep 20, 2017 at 7:21
  • but why "te" and not "ite"?
    – Kommi
    Sep 20, 2017 at 8:42
  • 2
    @Kommi Um, are you aware of the huge semantic difference between 待ってて, 待っててって and 待ってって in the first place? They are all appropriate in some situation but not appropriate in other situations.
    – naruto
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:19

ちょっと待ってて (chotto matte te) literally means "Keep waiting for a while (please)." That て (te) at the end does not mean "I'll be back shortly", at least grammatically.

ちょっと (chotto) just means "for a while", "a little", etc. 待ってて (matte te) is constructed as follows:

Similar examples include 見てて ("Keep watching (please)!"), 黙ってて ("Keep quiet (please)!"), etc.

As you can see, grammatically speaking, there is no "I'll be back" in the original sentence. Perhaps you saw someone's free translation. Note the important difference between 待って and 待ってて; the former is "Wait!", whereas the latter sounds like "Wait a moment" or "I'll be back soon".

  • how much acceptable is it to use "matte ite" or "V-te ite" in casual speach? that is, with "i" in the second "te".
    – Kommi
    Sep 20, 2017 at 8:47
  • 3
    Keeping い is the standard and formal way. In casual and fast speech, this い is almost always omitted, but keeping い is never unacceptable (Compare It is and It's in English).
    – naruto
    Sep 20, 2017 at 9:19
  • ちょっと待っていてください -> ちょっと待っていて -> ちょっと待ってて(chotto matte te)
  • ちょっと待ってと言っているでしょう -> ちょっと待ってと -> ちょっと待ってって(chotto matte tte)

These two phrase are similar, but not the same.


It's short for ちょっと待っていて, literally "wait and stay there". There's nothing about coming back, but of course it is inferred.

  • how can "いて" mean "stay here" in "待っていて"?
    – Kommi
    Sep 22, 2017 at 0:12
  • 1
    The verb いる means 'to be'. いて is the て-form, used in giving commands. In this case, it literally means "be", but it is used when one person is telling another person to be (some place) or be (like something/someone). So 待っていて is literally "wait and be", meaning wait by staying right here.
    – kandyman
    Sep 22, 2017 at 21:51

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