The meaning of sugoku (凄く) in Japanese and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word sugoku, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, discussion of usage vs. sugoi and more!

What does sugoku mean?

Sugoku means very or really in Japanese. It can also mean so when emphasizing something (e.g., so cold). In kanji, sugoku is written as 凄く, but it is more common to write this word in hiragana as すごく. Sugoku is the adverb form of sugoi (すごい), which means amazing or great.

In Japanese conversations, you will use sugoku to emphasize something. For example:

Gohan wa sugoku oishikatta.
The dinner was very nice.

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use sugoku in Japanese. I will also include some notes on young people’s casual usage of sugoi instead of sugoku.

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.

Example sentences using sugoku

The Japanese word sugoku means very or really.

Ima, sugoku tsukareteiru.
I am really tired right now.

Kinou wa saikou datta ne. Sugoku tanoshikatta!
Yesterday was great. I had so much fun!

Kaze ga sugoku tsuyoi naa.
The wind is so strong, eh.

Saisho wa sugoku taihen datta.
It was really hard at first.

Ano hi wa sugoku ii omoide desu.
That day is a very good memory.

Sugoi instead of sugoku?

If you spend a decent amount of time in Japan talking to young people (or maybe just watching TV!), you’re bound to notice how some Japanese use sugoi as an emphasizer instead of sugoku. This is a form of slang, as below:

Kanojo wa sugoi kirei!
She is so beautiful!

As it turns out, using sugoi in this way is actually grammatically incorrect. The reason is that sugoi should not be used to modify an adjective because it is not an adverb. The correct sentence is as follows:

Kanojo wa sugoku kirei!
She is so beautiful!

So which word should you use in this situation, sugoi or sugoku?

Some might argue that popular usage is, by definition, what you should imitate in a language but I tend to take the side of Steve Kaufmann in this debate.

When learning a foreign language like Japanese, you should firstly study the correct (standard) language. By all means, take a note of slang such as how people use sugoi here. It’s a fun part of Japanese culture.

But don’t imitate slang or non-standard language until you are already comfortable with using Japanese. You will be better understood and taken more seriously if you use the correct Japanese. With all that said, have fun on your journey to fluency!