Q: If there’s a word in Japanese that you don’t know, and you don’t have a Japanese dictonary, should you use Google Translate? I heard it doesn’t translate that well. – Natsumi
A: Hi Natsumi,
If it’s just a word then sure, Google Translate should help. Don’t take the translation as being 100% truth as context plays a big part in the meaning of a word. But in general if it’s just one word it should help you out as well as any dictionary.
You can also use it to help translate Japanese phrases that you don’t understand into English. It won’t be 100% and will produce some strange English but it should help if you are stuck.
The only way you shouldn’t really use it is to translate English into Japanese. Because if the other person doesn’t know it’s been done on a computer they’ll think it sounds very strange indeed!