Basic Japanese

Fuji-yama by Yamashita Kiyoshi


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kon-nichiwa = Hello arigatoo = Thank youspeaker

sayoonara = Goodbyspeaker


In any language, the first you ought to learn should be expressions for appreciation. A well-chosen phrase will make your relationship with the local people friendly, and will enable you to make unforgettable friends.

"A-ri-ga-to-o ありがとう(Thank you)" is the most common form for expressing appreciation. "Arigato" consists of five syllables, and should be pronounced with a pitch stress in the second syllable, that is, "ri" in standard Japanese, while people in Kansai district will put it on the forth syllable. The stress may be shifted from place to place, and often influenced by differences in sex and age.

If you want to look more polite, "Doomo-arigatoo-gozaimasu どうもありがとうございます" is recommended. Just uttering "Doomo" is popular among young people, but it sounds somewhat less respectful.

Popular Greetings
Situations Phrases & Pronunciation
when you get up in the morning おはよう・おはようございます
both in the morning and afternoon こんにちは
to the people you do business with いつもおせわになっております
itsumo-osewa ni natte-orimasu
in the evening こんばんは
when you go to bed おやすみ、おやすみなさい
oyasumi / oyasumi - nasai
when you leave the place first しつれいします
when you meet someone for the first time はじめまして
when you ask someone how they are お元気ですか
when you apologize to someone ごめんなさい・すみません
gomen-nasai / sumimasen
excuse me! ( when you step on someone's foot by mistake, for example) しつれい・すみません
shitsurei / sumimasen
from the person just going out to the other staying いってきます
from the person staying to the other just going out いってらっしゃい
from the person just got home to other having stayed home ただいま
from the person having stayed hom to the person just got home おかえりなさい
when you say goodby さようなら


Some of the Phrases Used in the Classroom

When you are enrolled in the Japanese language class, you had best learn by heart some of the phrases your teacher speaks to you. They are almost always fixed expressions.

from teacher to students
English Japanese
Let's begin. 始めましょう

hajime ma-shoo

Open your text book. テキストを開けてください

tekisuto wo akete-kudasai

Close your text book. テキストを閉じてください

tekisuto wo tojite-kudasai

Repeat after me. 繰り返してください


It's over.

That's all for today.


korede owari-masu

See you (next week) (来週)会いましょう

(raishuu) aimashoo

You will need some of the expressions when you want to make yourself understood.

from student to teacher
English Japanese
Please explain it to me once again.

Plese tell me once again.


mooichido onegai-shimasu

I can't understand it. わかりません


What does ... mean ? ・・・って何ですか

...tte nan-desuka

I want to go to the rest room. トイレに行きたいです

toire ni iki-tai-desu

I'll be absent from class (next week). (来週)授業を休みます

raishuu jugyoo wo yasumi-masu



Even if you cannot speak Japanese, you are sure to be compelled to ask something. If you only know these interrogatives, you can manage.

Asking Questions
Questions Japanese Pronunciation
Who? だれ dare
What? なに nani
Which one? どちら dochira
When? いつ itsu
Where? どこ doko
Why? なぜ naze
How come? どのようにして dono-yooni-shite
How much? いくら ikura
How far?/How long?/How soon? どのくらい donokurai


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