Language | WELL SAID

Tell people your hopes and wishes using 'kana'

The structures "kana(a)" and "tara donna ni ii ka" are wonderful for wishing

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Hayaku natsu ni naranai kanā.

(I wish it would be summer soon.)


Situation 1: Takako is speaking with her mother.



Takako: Hayaku natsu ni naranai kanā.

Haha: E, chotto hayai-n ja nai? Mada go-gatsu yo.

Takako: I wish it would be summer soon.

Mom: Huh? Isn’t it a bit early? It’s still May.


The structures Xかな(あ) and Xたらどんなにいいか express a hope or wish. Xかな(あ) means “one hopes X” or “one wishes X,” and appears in casual conversation in the form of a rhetorical statement:


(I hope it’ll be sunny tomorrow.)

Literally, this sentence reads something like, “Tomorrow, won’t it be clear, I hope.” Though “X” is a verb in the negative nai-form, the sentence is an affirmative statement.


(I hope our section chief’s speech will end soon.)

In the Xかな(あ) pattern, “X” can also be a verb in potential form:


(I wish I could enter that university.)

When “X” is a verb in potential form, it can be combined with ようにならないかな(あ) to mean “one hopes they will become able to X”:


(I wish I could become able to speak multiple languages like her.)

When the speaker wishes another person would do something for them, “Xてくれないかな(あ)” is commonly used:


(I wish a lot of customers would come to our shop.)


Situation 2: Mr. Mita and his colleague, Mr. Sere, are chatting online.



Mita: Shingata koronauirusu no sei de, nani o suru nimo shinpai da ne.

Sere: Ā, ryūkō ga shūsoku shitara donna ni ii ka.

Mita: The novel coronavirus makes you worry whatever you do, huh?

Sere: Ah, how I wish the epidemic would come to a resolution.

The structure Xたらどんなにいいか, in which “X” is a verb in its tara-form, carries the nuance that the speaker strongly hopes or wishes “X” will be realized:


(How I wish I could get tickets for that concert)


(How wonderful would it be if he just turned around and came back to me.)


Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 2.










Mita: How I wish someone would develop a medicine effective against the novel coronavirus.

Sere: I’ve heard that that takes quite a lot of time. More importantly, we should use existing medicines that are likely to work first. Other than that, a vaccine. I hope it will be developed soon.

Mita: Yeah. There really is a long way to go. Honestly, the world has totally changed. The Olympics have even been postponed.

Sere: Ah, how great would it be if society could just go back to how it was before. But, that’s not the case.

Mita: The economy has taken a big hit so I’m anxious because I don’t know the future.

Sere: Yeah. [Our] jobs are done through remote work, and I have to speak with you online too, Mita.

Mita: Yeah, it’s hard to make jokes in such a life-threatening situation.

Sere: But it’s in times like these that I need a person with a happy-go-lucky character like yours, Mita.

Mita: Is that so? We’ll just have to do our best.

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