This is my detailed guide about the meaning and English translation of the Japanese expression “soro soro” (そろそろ). Some of you wanted to know what “soro soro” means in Japanese and English and also how you can use it in a Japanese sentence. So let’s find out.
“Soro soro” (そろそろ) means “soon”, “before long”, or “It’s about time to…”. It is commonly used when someone is about to do something like going home, for example, or when something is about to start. It can also be used when something should have been done sooner or was supposed to happen sooner.
Read on if you want to know all the possible meanings and common translations of the Japanese expression “soro soro” (そろそろ). As usual, I will use examples to illustrate how you can use the phrase in daily conversations. Since a lot of you asked me what “Soro soro shitsurei shimasu” means, I have also covered the meaning and translation of this useful phrase.
The Meaning of “Soro Soro”
When you look up the expression “soro soro” (そろそろ) in a dictionary, you usually get two different meanings. The first one is “soon“, “before long“, or “any time now” and the second one is “slowly” or “quietly” (source).
soon, before long, any time now
The difficulty with “soro soro” (そろそろ) is that the meaning in Japanese and even more so the most appropriate translation depends a lot on the situation and the context.
So below are all the common ways of how you can translate “soro soro” (そろそろ) into English according to several dictionaries and my own experience here in Japan.
- soon, momentarily, before long, at any time now
- It is about time, It is about time to…
- It is almost time for…
- slowly, quietly, steadily, gradually
So let’s look at some examples to further explain how “soro soro” (そろそろ) is used in Japanese.
How to Use “Soro Soro” in Japanese (Grammar)
“Soro soro” (そろそろ) is most commonly used to express that someone is going to do something soon or that it is about time to do something. “Soro soro neru” (そろそろ寝る), for example, means “I will go to bed soon, while “Soro soro kaeru” (そろそろ帰る) can be translated as “It’s about time to go home“.
Soro soro neru.
I will go to bed soon.
Soro soro kaeru.
It is about time to go home.
Soro soro ikou!
Let’s go soon!
Another common way to use “soro soro” (そろそろ) is when it is “nearly” the time for a certain event or when it is “almost” a certain time or moment in time. It can be used to say that it is “about to dawn” or that it is “almost noon” and so on.
Soro soro yoake desu ne.
It’s almost dawn.
It’s about to dawn.
Soro soro haru da yo.
It is almost spring.
Spring is almost here.
Soro soro shichi ji da.
It is almost 7 o’clock.
In this case, it is also often used together with “jikan da” (時間だ). “Soro soro modoru jikan da” (そろそろ戻る時間だ) means “It is about time to go back“, for example. Or “Soro soro neru jikan da” (そろそろ寝る時間だ) means “It is about time to go to bed“.
Soro soro modoru jikan da.
It is about time to go back.
Soro soro neru jikan da.
It is about time to go to bed.
As I mentioned before “soro soro” (そろそろ) can also mean “slowly” or “quietly” and is used when you do something carefully or with patience. However, in this case, it is usually “soro soro to” (そろそろと). Judging from my own experience this is the least common meaning.
soro soro to aruku
to walk slowly
When you want to say that you do something “slowly” it is more common to use “yukkuri” (ゆっくり). So I should probably write another article about the meaning of that word in the near future.
Except for maybe the last example, “soro soro” (そろそろ) is a very useful phrase that can be used on a daily basis. So I highly recommend you memorize its different meanings and how you can use the expression in Japanese.
The Meaning of “Soro Soro Shitsurei Shimasu”
“Soro soro shitsurei shimasu” (そろそろ失礼します) means “I’m leaving now“, “I’ll be leaving soon“, or “It’s almost time for me to go“. This polite expression can be used to excuse yourself when you have to leave quickly or earlier than others. Literally, it translates as “I’m going to do something rude“.
Soro soro shitsurei shimasu.
I’m leaving now.
I’ll be leaving soon.
It’s almost time for me to go.
“Shitsurei shimasu” (失礼します) is commonly used when entering a doctor’s room or a teacher’s room and is also a common phrase to say goodbye in Japanese. Especially, at the office, the phrase “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” is frequently used. So, please check out my linked article, if you want to know more about it.