Frequently Used Japanese

Basic Greetings

Let’s open up the communication doorway by using greetings that are suitable for the time, place and occasion.

Morning greeting

  • Ohayou
    • (Good morning.)Casual
  • Ohayou gozaimasu
    • (Good morning.)Polite

Greeting for afternoon until evening

  • Konnichiwa
    • (Good afternoon)

Evening greeting

  • Konbanwa
    • (Good evening)

Greeting used when you meet someone for the first time

  • Hajimemashite
    • (How do you do?)

When saying goodbye

  • Sayounara
    • (Goodbye)

Example 1

Tanaka:
Smith san, ohayou.
(Good morning, Mr. Smith.)
Smith:
Ohayou gozaimasu, Tanaka san.
(Good morning, Mr. Tanaka.)
Tanaka:
Kyou wa iitenki desune
(Nice weather today, don’t you think?)
Smith:
Sou desune.
(Yes, it’s grand.)

Example 2

Smith:
Konbanwa Tanaka san.
(Good evening, Mr. Tanaka.)
Tanaka:
Konbanwa.
(Good evening.)
Smith:
Doko e ikunodesuka.
(Where are you going?)
Tanaka:
Chotto konbini* made.
(Just down to the convenience store.)

“Konbini” is short for “convenience store”.

Greetings used in the home

There are various expressions that people in Japan use when they leave the house and return home, before and after meals, and on other occasions.

  • When you leave the house, you say: Ittekimasu (I’m leaving now.)
  • Response of the other family members to this: Itterasshai (See you later.)
  • When you come back home, you say: Tadaima (I’m home.)
  • Response of other family members to this: Okaerinasai(Welcome home.)
  • Before eating, you say: Itadakimasu (Thank you)
  • The person who prepared the meal responds: Douzo, meshiagare. (Please go ahead.)
  • When you are finished eating, you say: Gochisousama (That was delicious.)
  • The person who prepared the meal responds: Douitashimashite (Thank you.)

Example 1

A:
Gochisousama. Oishikatta!
(Thank you. That was delicious!)
B:
Yokatta.
(I’m glad you liked it.)
A:
Kono ryouri, kondomata tabetaina.
(I’d sure like to eat this dish again.)
B:
Soredewa, mata tsukurimasu.
(OK! Then I’ll cook it again.)

Example 2

A:
Ittekimasu.
(I’m leaving now.)
B:
Itterasshai. Kyou wa hayaku kaette kite ne.
(Have a good day. Be sure to come home early this evening.)
A:
Hai, wakarimashita.
(Sure, I will.)

Expressions of gratitude

  • Arigatou (Thank you.) Casual
  • Arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you very much.)Polite
  • Sumimasen(Although “Sumimasen” is an expression of apology equivalent to “Excuse me,” it is frequently used with the same meaning as “Arigatou”, “Thank you”)

Example 1

A:
Chotto, otazune shitai no desuga.
(Excuse me, please.)
B:
Hai.
(Yes.)
A:
Eki wa dochira deshouka?
(Can you tell me how to get to the station?)
B:
Eki wa konomichi o massugu itte tsukiataridesu.
(Just go straight down the road here. The station is at the end of the road.)
A:
Wakarimashita. Arigatou gozaimasu.
(I see. Thank you very much.)

Example 2

A:
Kore, Omiyage desu.
(Here, I have a gift for you.)
B:
Itsumo sumimasen.
(Thank you always.)
A:
Anata no sukina mono desu.
(It’s something that you like.)
B:
Nani kana. Aketemo ii desuka?
(I wonder what it is. Do you mind if I open it?)

Example 3

A:
Osaifu o otoshimashitayo.
(Excuse me. You dropped your wallet.)
B:
Arigatou gozaimasu.
(Thank you very much.)

Words of apology

  • Gomen-nasai (Excuse me, I’m sorry.)
  • Sumimasen(Although “Sumimasen” is an expression of apology equivalent to “Excuse me,” it is frequently used with the same meaning as “Arigatou”, “Thank you”) Polite
  • Shitsurei shimashita(Excuse me, I’m sorry)
  • Moushiwake arimasen(Excuse me, I’m sorry)

Example 1

A:
Gomennasai. Koppu o watte shimaimashita.
(I’m so sorry. I broke the cup.)
B:
Daijobu desu. Abunai desukara sonomama ni shiteoite kudasai.
(That’s all right. It’s dangerous. Just leave it there.)

Example 2

(if you bump into someone)

A:
Ah, sumimasen.
(Oh, excuse me.)
B:
Iie, daijoubu desu.
(No problem.)

Example 3

A:
Soko wa watashi no seki desuyo.
(Excuse me but I think you’re in my seat.)
B:
Hontoda. Boku no seki wa ushiro deshita. Shitsurei shimashita.
(Well, so I am. My seat is behind. I’m sorry.)
A:
Iie, kinishinaide kudasai.
(That’s all right. Don’t worry about it.)

Using the Telephone

The words moshi-moshi (“hello”) are most commonly used when answering the telephone.

  • Moshi-moshi, Watakushi Smith to moushimasuga Tanaka san onegaishimasu.
    • (Hello, this is Smith; is Mr. Tanaka there?)

Example 1

A:
Hai, moshi-moshi.
(Hello.)
B:
Suzuki to moushimasuga, Saito san no otaku desuka.
(Hello, my name is Suzuki. Is this the Saito residence?)
A:
Hai, soudesu.
(Yes, it is.)

Example 2

A:
Hai, Tanaka desu.
(Hello, this is Tanaka.)
B:
Watakushi Smith to moushimasuga, Yumiko san o onegaishimasu.
(Hello, my name is Smith. I would like to speak with Yumiko, please.)
A:
Hai, shou-shou omachikudasai.
(Please hold for a minute.)

Taxis

It is more convenient when taking a taxi in Japan to give the driver the name of a well-known or conspicuous building or other object that would serve as a landmark instead of the address.

  • Tokyo-eki made onegaishimasu.
    • (Please take me to Tokyo Station.)
  • Ginza made ikitai no desuga.
    • (I would like to go to Ginza.)
  • Shinjuku made, ikura kakarimasuka?
    • (How much would it cost to go to Shinjuku?)
  • Shibuya made, nanpun kuraide tsukimasuka?
    • (About how long would it take to get to Shibuya?)

Example 1

Driver:
Dochira e?
(Where to, please?)
Smith:
Hommachi made onegaishimasu.
(Please take me to Hommachi.)
Driver:
Hai, wakarimashita.
(Yes, sure.)

Example 2

Smith:
Daikoku-departo e ikitai no desuga.
(I would like to go to the Daikoku Department Store.)
Driver:
Hai, wakarimashita.
(Yes, sure.)
Smith:
Onegaishimasu.
(Please.)

Example 3

Smith:
Hommachi made ikura kakarimasuka?
(How much would the fare be to Hommachi?)
Driver:
2,000(Ni-sen) yen kurai desu.
(Probably about 2,000 yen.)

Example 4

Smith:
Hommachi made nanpun kuraide tsukimasuka?
(About how long would it take to go to Hommachi?)
Driver:
30(San-juu) pun kuraidesu.
(Probably about 30 minutes.)

Shopping

  • Kore wa ikura desuka?
    • (How much does this cost?)
  • Sore o misete kudasai.
    • (Please let me see that.)
  • Kore no irochigai wa arimasuka?
    • (Do you have this in any other colors?)
  • Shichaku shitemo ii desuka?
    • (Do you mind if I try it on?)

The difference in the use of “Kore,” “Sore” and “Are” is determined by the distance between the speaker and the object in question. “Kore” is used for objects that are close to the speaker, “Sore” is used from objects that are further away from the speaker but close to the listener. “Are” is used for objects that are further away from both the speaker and the listener.

Example 1

A:
Kore no irochigai wa arimasuka?
(Do you have this in any other colors?)
B:
Hai, arimasu. Shou-shou omachikudasai.
(Yes, we do. please wait a moment.)
A:
Kono ryouri, kondomata tabetaina.
(I’d sure like to eat this dish again.)
B:
Soredewa, mata tsukurimasu.
(OK! Then I’ll cook it again.)

Emergency Situations Such As an Injury or Illness

There are emergency numbers, such as 110 (police) or 119 (fire department), that you can dial in an emergency. If you are using a public telephone, just press the emergency button. If there is no emergency button on the telephone set, dial the emergency number after inserting coins (the coins will be returned to you after you disconnect.)

110

Dial 110 to contact the police in the event of a traffic accident, criminal act or other similar emergency.

  • Tasukete kudasai.
    • (Please help me.)
  • Hen na hito ni tsukerarete imasu!
    • (There’s a strange man following me.)
  • Dorobou desu.
    • (Robber!)
  • Watashi no kuruma ga kabe ni butsukatta no desuga.
    • (My car bumped against the wall.)

119

Dial 119 to call an ambulance in the event of a sudden illness or injury.

  • Kega o shiteimasu.
    • (I am injured.)
  • Onna no hito ga kurushinde imasu.
    • (There is a woman here who seems to be in pain.)
  • Ojiisan ga, taoremashita.
    • (An old man has collapsed.)
  • Onaka ga itakute, ugokemasen.
    • (My stomach is so painful that I can’t move.)

Also dial 119 to call the fire department in case of a fire.

  • Kemuri ga deteimasu.
    • (Smoke is coming out.)
  • Tonari ga kaji desu.
    • (There’s a fire next door.)

Edited by NTT TownPage

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