Word of the Week: 偶然 (guuzen)

Photo credit: Rian P. Adi

Posted: 16th Feb 2023

Hello and welcome to the Ippo Ippo Japanese Word of the Week!

This Week's Word Is...


  • In hiragana: ぐうぜん
  • In rōmaji: guuzen

Before We Begin

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What Does 偶然 (guuzen) Mean?

偶然 (guuzen) has several possible English translations, including:

  • Coincidence
  • (By) chance
  • Coincidental(ly)
  • Unexpected(ly)

How to Use 偶然 (guuzen)

If you spotted the image at the top of today's post, you may already have discovered my number one way of using 偶然 (guuzen). It's actually quite simple!

  • 偶然ですね!(Guuzen desu ne - What a coincidence!)

An example of when you could use this expression would be when you bump into a friend somewhere you didn't expect to see them. However, there are plenty of other potential ways to use this handy Japanese phrase.

For example:

  1. 電車で隣の席の人が、偶然私と同じ服を着ていた。(Densha de tonari no seki no hito ga, guuzen watashi to onaji fuku wo kiteita - The person sitting next to me on the train happened [coincidentally] to be wearing the same clothes as me)
  2. 偶然見つけたお店でかわいいスカートを見つけた。(Guuzen mitsuketa o-mise de kawaii sukaato wo mitsuketa - I found a cute skirt in a shop I happened to chance upon)
  3. 今朝カフェで会った知らない人と、夜、偶然ラーメン屋でも会ってしまった。(Kesa kafe de atta shiranai hito to, yoru, guuzen raamen ya de mo atte shimatta - This morning I met a stranger in the cafe, only for us to coincidentally/randomly meet again this evening in a ramen shop)
  4. 変な私服のときに、駅で偶然会社の人と会ってしまった。(Hen na shifuku no toki ni, eki de guuzen kaisha no hito to atte shimatta - I happened [unexpectedly] to meet someone from work at the station whilst dressed in a weird outfit)
  5. マンガでは、偶然知り合った少女が、実は魔法使いだったというストーリーが多い。(Manga de wa, guuzen shiriatta shōjo ga, jitsu wa mahōtsukai datta to iu sutōrii ga ōi - There are many manga with stories in which a young girl [the main character has just so happened to meet] turns out to be a witch)

As you may have noticed, there are lots of different ways 偶然 (guuzen) can translate into English. Are there any you think you could use?

I hope you enjoy using this word! The best way to learn new language is to try it out straight away, so if you have a Japanese teacher, friend, family member or a fellow Japanese learner you'll be speaking to soon, why not give it a go?

Sources & More Info

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