The meaning of betsu ni (別に) in Japanese and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese term betsu ni, including its Japanese definition and translation, usage, example sentences, other expressions, and more!

What does betsu ni mean?

In conversational Japanese, betsu ni (別に、べつに) means not particularly or not really. Another possible translation is it’s not like. Betsu ni usually appears in negative sentences and can have a somewhat sarcastic or critical tone. On its own, betsu ni can also stand for nah it’s nothing in response to a question you don’t feel like answering.

Finally, betsu ni may also mean separately or on the side (for food).

Breaking down betsu ni by its parts

Breaking this term down further, betsu means separate. Its kanji 別 also appears in the verb wakareru (別れる), to break up. Yes, I once had to look that one up in a dictionary when a girl texted it to me ;(

Ni is a common Japanese particle which, to put it simply, helps link up words in a sentence. Rather than worrying about its exact meaning, just remember for now that it’s a grammar word that appears a lot in Japanese.

Below, we take a look at some examples of the various ways you can use betsu ni in Japanese.

To make it easier for you, I have written each sentence in full Japanese kanji on the first line, followed by roman letters (romaji), and hiragana, with the English meaning coming last. I have also highlighted the new phrase in bold.

Example sentences using betsu ni

Betsu ni omoshirokunai yo.
It’s not particularly interesting.

Betsu ni kowai toka jyanai kedo.
It’s not like I’m scared or anything.

Betsu ni kirai jyanai kedo, konomi no ryouri de wa nai.
I don’t particularly hate it, but it’s not one of my favorite foods.

Betsu ni warui koto shiteinai yo.
You’re not doing anything especially bad.

Betsu ni ikitai wake jyanai kara ii yo.
It’s OK. I don’t really want to go anyway.

Maa, betsu ni kare no koto ga suki jyanai kedo ne.
Well, it’s not as if I like him or anything.

Furaidopoteto wo betsu ni kudasai.
Please give me the fries on the side.

What is the meaning of betsu ni nandemo nai?

Betsu ni nandemo nai (別に何でもない) means it’s nothing. You would usually use this when answering questions like “what’s the matter?” or “what are you thinking about”?

Sometimes, this expression is just a convenient way of avoiding a clear response. Japanese people often say this if they’re in a bad mood or are thinking about something negative, but don’t want to talk about it right now. As mentioned above, using just betsu ni on its own also has a similar connotation in this context.

Doushita no?
What’s wrong?

Betsu ni nandemo nai.
It’s nothing.