When doing karate years ago the sensei would use the word ''yoi'' to instruct the students to take a ready/prepared stance.

I didn't speak any Japanese then but I remember the word.

Now I'm learning Japanese and I've come across the word ''yoi'' which means good/nice.

Are these two meanings for the same word or are they just homonyms?

  • 15
    This is the evil of using romaji. – l'électeur Oct 17 '19 at 11:45
  • @l'électeur Do they have different kanji ? – Kantura Oct 17 '19 at 11:52
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    @l'électeur aren't they distinguished in romaji though? "youi" or "yōi" vs "yoi"... looks like OP just spells them wrong? – theonlygusti Oct 19 '19 at 18:02
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    @theonlygusti Any respectable romanization system would distinguish them. The problem is that Hepburn is very popular, but it uses ō, which (presumably for technical reasons, or just out of "convenience") is often dropped — if I remember correctly even by "official" places (like train companies, government offices, etc.). And then you have words like yoi (or romaji) which don't indicate the long vowel correctly... – Earthliŋ Oct 20 '19 at 9:06

They are different words. They are not only different in kanji/kana but also very different in pronunciation.

  • 良い = よい = good, nice
  • 用意 = ようい = preparation, readiness

That is, 用意 has an elongated vowel, which is a distinguishing feature in the Japanese language. For details, see tag and this question: Are there many occurances of elongated syllables throughout the language?


Keep in mind, "良い" by itself, it not usually pronounced like "yoi". Most of them say, "ii". However, in past tense, Japanese people will say "yokatta!" (良かった), and 仲良い is pronounced "nakayoi".

And like naruto pointed out, the word for readiness is "Youi", not "Yoi"


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