The meaning of hayaku (早く、速く) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does hayaku mean?

The Japanese word hayaku (早く、速く、はやく) means early or quickly. The first case refers to time, while the second refers to speed. Hayaku is an adverb that originates from the adjective hayai (early, quick). You can usually tell the difference between the two meanings from the situation or the kanji characters.

Kare wa hayaku okita.
He woke up early.

Kanojo wa hayaku hashitta.
She ran quickly.

Again, the first example is talking about time (when you do something) whereas the second is about speed (how quickly you do something. Note also that hayaku is written as 早く when referring to early. For quickly, you use 速く instead.

One phrase you’re likely to come across is hayaku shite (はやくして), which translates as hurry up! Literally, do it quickly. (I tend to get told this one when my wife and I are leaving the house to go somewhere 😉 )

Example sentences using hayaku (early)

Hayaku is a useful word to know if you want to learn to speak conversational Japanese. Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use it.

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. The new word is in bold.

Watashi wa hayaku tsuita.
I arrived early.

Itsumo hayaku neru you ni shiteiru.
I always go to bed early.

Hayai uchi ni yarimashou.
Let’s do it while it’s still early.

Example sentences using hayaku (quickly)

In Japanese, hayaku can mean early or quick, depending on the context.

Otousan wa hayaku taberu.
My father eats quickly.

Shinkansen wa hayaku hashirimasu.
Shinkansen trains move quickly.

Boku wa hayaku oyogenai.
I can’t swim quickly.

What is motto hayaku?

Motto hayaku (もっとはやく) means quicker or earlier. The word motto signifies more so the literal translation of motto hayaku is more quick or more early.

Motto hayaku hashiranai to reesu ni katenai.
You won’t win the race unless you run quicker.

Nande motto hayaku iwanai no?
Why didn’t you tell me earlier?

What does mada hayai mean?

Mada hayai (まだ早い) means it’s still too early. The word mada stands for still. In this case, the “too” part is understood. As below, this phrase is often preceded by the particles ni and wa.

Gohan ni wa mada hayai desu yo ne?
It’s still too early for dinner, isn’t it?

Kekkon ni wa mada hayai.
It’s still too early to get married.