Please don't laugh at me.

I am super new to Japanese and only really have google translate to help me. I can find a lot of stuff online but I can't find a solid meaning for こと, and Google translate tells me it means "about", but I'm not sold. Also if you have any suggestions on a better (free) translator, I'm all ears.

  • 5
    if you have any suggestions on a better (free) translator, -- I don't think we should trust automatic translators..
    – chocolate
    Feb 8, 2018 at 4:23
  • 2
    Context needed; こと has quite a few meanings/usages such as "thing", "about", "concept", "experience", functions as a nominalizer, represents necessity, plan, routine, decision, period of time, exclamation, etc.
    – chocolate
    Feb 8, 2018 at 4:35
  • As you mentioned that you only have Google translate to help you, I would suggest you check out some online dictionary like jisho.org When it comes to meaning of a single word, dictionary is always better than Google translate, especially on words that have a lot of meanings and Google translate can only show you one.
    – cytsunny
    Feb 9, 2018 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


こと can refer to many things, including:

  1. koto (this Japanese musical instrument)
  2. to make up a cover story; glossing over
  3. ancient capital; old city
  4. difference
  5. (sound) click; tick; knock
  6. word; phrase
  7. thing; matter
  8. affair; incident; event
  9. fact
  10. situation; circumstances
  11. problem; trouble
  12. regarding ...; about ...
  13. fact that ... (used to nominalize a clause)
  14. also known as; alias
  15. oh; what a; how (e.g. how wonderful..., what a big ...)
  16. Do ...! (used to make an order)
  17. Is it ...?; Do you ...?; etc (used as a question marker)

Please don't be overwhelmed. Japanese tends to have many homophones, and fundamental words are always like this in many languages. For example English word for has 25 definitions according to a free online English-Japanese dictionary. Unsurprisingly, Google Translate is useless for a word-by-word translation of fundamental words.

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