The meaning of genkai (限界) in Japanese and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word genkai, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, and more!

What does genkai mean?

Genkai (限界、げんかい) means limit or threshold in Japanese. As in English, this can refer to both physical and mental limits. What’s more, in conversational Japanese, saying mou genkai da (もう限界だ) means I can’t take it anymore or that’s it!

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use genkai 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.

Genkai = Limit

Genkai (限界、げんかい) means limit or threshold in Japanese. As in English, this can refer to both physical and mental limits.

Shigoto ga isogashikute tairyoku no genkai ni chikai desu.
I’m so busy at work that my body is approaching its limit.

Ningen no genkai wa dore gurai?
What are a human’s limits?

Watashi wa mou genkai desu.
I’m at the end of my tether.

Puro senshu wa jibun tachi no genkai wo koeru no ga tokui desu.
Pro athletes are good at exceeding their own limits.

Why example sentences?

Learning Japanese can seem like a daunting task at first. The grammar and forms of politeness are very different from what English native speakers are used to.

You also have three distinct writing systems to get the hang of. I know it was difficult for me when I started out in 2005. But don’t let the kanji fool you! Like any language, Japanese is conquered one word at a time.

Example sentences are a big part of how I achieved fluency and became a professional translator. That’s why I’m writing this series of articles to break down new words in simple terms. I hope they will be useful.

A couple of bonus tips

Here are a couple of additional pointers to supercharge your learning.

1. Learn new vocabulary terms with example sentences
It’s much easier to remember the meaning of a new word within a sentence rather than in isolation. Use sites such as Linguee to find helpful examples for the term you want to learn.

2. Focus on verbs first and foremost.
Verbs will allow you to quickly construct your own sentences so they should be the main part of your study early on. You can always learn the Japanese for pencil sharpener when you actually need it.