I used Google translate and used the following translation provided by Google for 'possibly' in a letter I wrote

可能性もある kanōsei mo aru

Later I tried looking up the word in the dictionary, and couldn't find it. All I found was kanō 可能, the first two kanji, then looked up the third kanji sei 性 which means 'sex'. So that 可能性もある would translate into 'possibility of sex'? I've already sent the letter, without realizing. Will a Japanese person interpret 可能性もある like this?

  • 3
    No, 可能性 is definitely a word, and it means 'possibility'. Also you're interpreting the 'sex' there wrong - it's sex as in 'male and female', not as in 'intercourse'.
    – Angelos
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 13:21
  • 3
    ~可能性もある is also a very common phrase meaning 'there is a possibility that ~'.
    – Angelos
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 13:24
  • 1
    I want to think this is a joke, since searching for either the romaji spelling or the kanji in google result in obvious webpage hits for kanousei ;p Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 13:25
  • Yeah, seems like an attempt at a joke.
    – Leebo
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Here ~性【せい】 is an ending similar to -(i)ty, -ness, -cy. For matters of illustration,

可能 + 性 = 可能性 ↔ possible + -(i)ty = possibility

安全 + 性 = 安全性 ↔ secure + -(i)ty = security

Indeed, 性 can also mean "gender" (although it cannot mean sexual intercourse), but this is not how 性 is used in 可能性, and no "Japanese person" would misunderstand this.

  • oh that's good then. if the final character were separated with a space, would it be read differently?
    – charles
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 10:53
  • There are no spaces in standard Japanese.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 12:44

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