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250 Easy Japanese Words and Phrases to Rock Any Situation

Do you want to start speaking Japanese right this second?

Start with these 250 crucial survival phrases, everyday conversational words and more.

Just click on a word or phrase to hear its pronunciation!

Contents

Basic Japanese Phrases

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おはようございます “ohayou gozaimasu” — Good morning

The casual version is “ohayou.” In a workplace, someone greeting a colleague for the first time that day might use this phrase—even if the clock reads 7 PM.

こんにちは konnichiwa” — Hello / good afternoon

Konnichiwa can be used any time of day as a general greeting, but it’s most commonly used between 11 AM and 5 PM.

久しぶり (ひさしぶり) hisashiburi” — It’s been a while

Use this phrase when you’re greeting someone you haven’t seen in a while.

お名前は何ですか?(おなまえは なんですか?) o namae wa nan desu ka?” — What’s your name?

This is a polite way to ask someone for their name. The more informal version is: O namae wa?” — Your name is…?

です …desu” — I am… / It is…

Desu is a copula (a word that links the subject of a sentence to its complement), but it might be easiest for beginners to just think of it as the equivalent of the English word “to be.” Unlike “to be,” desu stays the same regardless of the subject.

Here are some examples: “Tomu desu” — I’m Tom. “Atsui desu” It’s hot/I’m hot. “Osoi desu” — You’re late!

好きです (すき です) suki desu” — I like it

You can say what you like and add “…ga suki desu. For example, I have a huge sweet tooth, so I’d say: “Okashi ga suki desu.— I like sweets.

好きではありません (すきでは ありません) “suki dewa arimasen — I don’t like it

If something’s just not to your liking, use this phrase.

いいですよ ii desu yo” — It’s good

Think of this phrase as a gentle way to say, “It’s all good.” You’ll often also hear “ii yo” (especially from females).

ダメです (だめ です) dame desu” — It’s no good

To say something is “no good,” you can just say “dame,” or “dame da” (both are casual).

日本語話しましょう (にほんごで はなしましょう) nihongo de hanashimashou” — Let’s talk in Japanese

Native Japanese speakers are often all too happy to help you practice your language skills with them!

もう一度言ってください (もういちど いって ください) mou ichido itte kudasai” — Please say it again

A useful phrase for any learner to know.

Saying Yes and No in Japanese

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Saying “Yes” in Japanese

The basic word for “yes” in Japanese is hai, but there are several ways to express it either verbally or with expressions:

はい “hai”

そう “sou”

うん “un”

ああ “aa”

ええ “ee”

もちろん “mochiron” — Of course

そうです “sou desu” — That’s right

いいですよ “ii desu yo” — Okay

The Japanese use “aizuchi,” which are simple words or gestures that all mean “Yes” to indicate you’re listening. These include phrases like sou, un, aa or ee.

Alternatively to one-word affirmatives, you can say mochiron, sou desu or ii desu yo to mean “that’s right.”

Another way to say “yes” is with non-verbal cues like nodding your head up and down or giving a thumbs up.

Saying “No” in Japanese (While Saving Face)

While there are several terms for saying yes in Japanese, saying “no” is much trickier. The basic word for “no” is “iie,” but there are more polite ways to express “no” to safeguard the listener’s feelings:

いいえ “iie”

ううん “uun”

いやー “iya”

だめ “dame”

ちょっと… “chotto…”

If you use chotto, remember to trail off at the end, as you’re basically saying “it’s a little…”

In business settings, two simple phrases to convey “no” without saying “no” are:

難しいです。 (むずかしい です。) “muzukashii desu” It’s difficult.

考えておきます。 (かんがえて おきます。) “kangaete okimasu” — I’ll think about it.

While not outright saying “no,” they express a refusal to the listener without sounding impolite.

There are several non-verbal ways to express “no.” Rubbing the back of the neck, making an “X” with both arms or even taking in a deep breath all mean “no.”

Basic Japanese Question Words

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Knowing some of the essential Japanese question words will go a long way toward getting your questions across to Japanese speakers.

(なに) “nani” — What

Nani can be used alone or in a sentence. When placed before desu, the word nani drops its -i and becomes, simply, nan. For example: “Kore wa nan desu ka?” — What is this?

どこ “doko” — Where

Doko is used when asking for a location, like this: “Toire wa doko desu ka?” — Where is the toilet? If you don’t know the word for the place you’re looking for, another helpful option is pointing to it on a map and asking “Doko desu ka?” — Where is it?

(だれ) “dare” — Who

You can ask who someone is by simply asking “Dare?” If you’re referring to a specific person, ad it before dare: “Kanojo wa dare desu ka?” — Who is she?

いつ “itsu” — When

Itsu can be used alone, depending on the context, or in a sentence. For example, if a friend tells you the sequel of your favorite show is out soon, you might ask “itsu?”

どうして “doushite” — Why

If you need to ask politely, say it as “Doushite desu ka?” If you’re with friends or family, you can use the casual form “Nande,” instead.

なぜ “naze” — Why

This is pretty similar to doushite, but a bit more formal. Naze is also used to ask the reason behind something, while doushite has a nuance of “how” to it.

いくら “ikura” — How much

While out and about in Japan, you may spot something that catches your eye. Ikura is the question word for “How much?”

どちら “dochira” and どれ “dore” — Which one

When choosing between two things, use dochira. If choosing from more than three things, use dore.

Please, Thank You and Apologies in Japanese

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The following phrases and expressions will help you ease into a conversation with anyone and everyone you interact with.

ありがとうございます “arigatou gozaimasu” — Thank you

The friendlier, more casual way to say thanks is arigatou. You’ll also see its abbreviation, “ari,” pretty often on Japanese message boards. A friend might just thank you with “doumo” — thanks

どういたしまして douitashimashite” — You’re welcome

Although this is technically the correct response to “thank you,” it’s rarely used these days in casual Japanese conversation. Opt instead for the following phrase!

問題ないです (もんだい ない です) “mondai nai desu” — No problem

This phrase is used pretty much the same way as it is in English.

ください “kudasai” — Please (requesting)

The word kudasai is used when making requests as in these examples: “Isoide kudasai.” — Please hurry, or Koohii o kudasai? — Can I please have a coffee?

どうぞ “douzo” — Please (offering)

Using douzo is like saying, “Please go ahead.” You can use it when ushering someone through the door before you, or offering a coworker some delicious snacks, for example.

お疲れ様です (おつかれさま です) “otsukaresama desu” — Thank you for your efforts

This expression is often said when you, or someone else, finishes their work as a parting sentiment. You can think of it as saying, “that’s a wrap for the day.”

失礼します (しつれい します) “shitsurei shimasu” — Excuse me (for my rudeness)

Another expression commonly heard in the office, shitsurei shimasu is used when you’re leaving a room. It’s similar to saying “Sorry to have bothered you.” You can also end a formal or polite phone call with this phrase.

すみません “sumimasen” — Excuse me, I’m sorry

Sumimasen is often used to say “Excuse me” (like if you need help getting directions ) and “Sorry” (like when you accidentally nudge someone). It can also be said as a “thank you” when you’ve troubled someone (Think: “Thanks for letting me put you out”).

ごめんなさい gomen nasai” — I’m sorry

Among family members, friends and in casual situations, gomen nasai replaces sumimasen when saying sorry. You can use the less formal gomen and gomen ne among those who are close to you.

Japanese Phrases to Express “I Don’t Understand”

There are multiple ways to express “I don’t understand” in Japanese. Here are the most important ones!

分かりません (わかりません) “wakarimasen” — I don’t understand (formal)

The most formal phrase that works in any situation is wakarimasen. If you’re around friends, you can use the casual variant, wakaranai.

もう一度言ってください (もう いちど いって ください) “mou ichido itte kudasai” — Please say that again

If you’ve misheard your friend or colleague, you can ask them to repeat what they said by using this phrase: “Sumimasen, mou ichido onegai shimasu.” — Excuse me, one more time please.

ゆっくりお願いします (ゆっくり おねがい します) “yukkuri onegai shimasu” — Slowly, Please

This is the polite way to ask someone to repeat what they said at a slower pace.

聞こえませんでした (きこえません でした) “kikoemasen deshita” — I didn’t hear that

Use this phrase to let someone know you didn’t catch what they said.

Survival Japanese: Vocabulary for Travel

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These handy phrases will give you what you need to get around Japan and, in case of an emergency, ask for help. 

すみません、地下鉄/はどこですか?(すみません、ちかてつ/えきはどこですか?) “sumimasen, chikatetsu/eki wa doko desu ka” — Excuse me, where’s the subway/station?

Trains and subways are the primary mode of transportation in Japan, so you’ll need to use this to figure out where you’re supposed to board. 

この電車は…駅に止まりますか?Does this train stop at…station?

If you’re on a bus, you can ask: “Kono basu wa…ni ikimasu ka?” — Does this bus go to…?

タクシーのりばはどこですか?Where is the taxi platform?

Although expensive, taxis are a handy way of getting where you need. 

…まで連れて行ってください。Please take me to…

If you’re going to your hotel, a restaurant or the place you agreed to meet your friends, use this phrase to tell the taxi driver where you want to go.

予約をしたいのですが。(よやくをしたいのですが) “yoyaku wo shitainodesuga” — I’d like to make a reservation.

If you’ve made a reservation in advance, you can say: “Yoyaku shiteimasu. — I have a reservation.

チェックアウトは何時ですか?(ちぇっくあうとはなんじですか?) “chekkuauto wa nanji desu ka” — What time is checkout?

Be sure to use this phrase so you know when you need to leave your room!

道に迷ってしまいました。(みちにまよってしまいました。) I’m lost.

Uh-oh, looks like you got a bit turned around! Not to worry, a friendly passerby will be sure to help you out if you use this phrase.

たすけて“tasukete” — Help!

This is used for emergencies, like in an accident or you’re in real danger. To ask for everyday help, you can say: “Tetsudatte kuremasen ka?” — Could you help me? 

警察/救急車を呼んでください。(けいさつ/きゅうきゅうしゃをよんでください。) “keisatsu/kyuukyuusha wo yondekudasai” — Please call the police/ an ambulance.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use this, but it’s important to know just in case. Here’s a useful note: the emergency numbers in Japan are 119 for an ambulance and 110 for the police. 

Common Japanese Words for Casual Conversations

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Want to sound like a native when you know minimal Japanese? There are a few common phrases you can use with friends in casual conversations.

よろしくね “yoroshiku ne” — Nice to meet you (casual)

The more formal version of this phrase is “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” — Nice to meet you.

どうしたの“doushita no?” — What’s wrong?

If your friend seems troubled, you can casually ask “Doushita no?” to find out what’s wrong.

やばい “yabai” — Awful or cool

While talking, your friend may mention they have an important test or date. Use yabai and depending on the context, it can mean “Awful” or “Cool.”

頑張って (がんばって) “ganbatte” — Do your best

This simple word means either “good luck” or “do your best.” In more formal situations, you’d say: “Ganbatte kudasai” — Do your best (formal)

おめでとう“omedetou!” — Congrats!

The formal variant is: “Omedetou gozaimasu” — Congratulations.

マジで? (まじ で?) “maji de?” — Really?

You can express your surprise with this casual phrase.

うそー“uso!” — No way!

This is another way to express surprise, which literally means “lie!”

Japanese Pronouns

Japanese has a wide variety of pronouns you can use, helping you make your sentences more direct when you’re referring to yourself, your friend or your friend’s boyfriend.

(わたし) “watashi” — I (all genders)

Watashi is the go-to in polite situations. It’s sometimes pronounced watakushi for extra formality, and some female speakers may shorten it to atashi in casual settings.

(ぼく) “boku” — I (usually male)

Boku is mostly used by men and boys when they’re among friends. Nowadays, some girls use boku, as well, which gives off an air of tomboyish-ness.

(おれ) “ore” — I (male)

While boku is sometimes used by girls, ore is an exclusively male pronoun. It gives off a bit of a rough image, so it’s only used among close friends in casual situations.

自分 (じぶん) “jibun” — Myself / yourself / themselves

Jibun is used to refer to a sense of self. It can also take a variety of forms, like jibun no for one’s own (something), and jibun de (by yourself). It’s also a more polite way of referring to someone else.

あなた “anata” — You

Anata translates to “you,” but it’s not used in the way it’s used in English. Most of the time, Japanese omits “you” altogether, favoring a person’s name instead. It can also be used as a term of endearment between couples.

(きみ) “kimi” — You

Kimi is largely used to talk to someone of lower status than yourself, such as a boss talking to their employees. It’s also used to add some pizzazz to writing, such as in the hit movie “Kimi no na wa” — “Your Name.”

(かれ) “kare” — He / him

While the Japanese language does favor using a person’s name over second or third person pronouns, using kare is perfectly okay. Plus, kare can be used to refer to someone’s boyfriend.

彼女 (かのじょ) “kanojo” — She / her

Same as kare, but for women. In the same way as kare, kanojo can also be used to refer to a girlfriend!

…たち “tachi” — “…And company” (pluralizes pronouns)

To turn a pronoun into a plural, just add -tachi. For example, “we” can be expressed as “watashi tachi,” “you” can be “kimi tachi,” a group of women can be“kanojo tachi”  and “Sasuke and his friends” becomes “Sasuke tachi.”

これ “kore” — This

Used to refer to something close to the speaker.

それ “sore” — That

Used to refer to something close to the listener.

あれ “are” — That (over there)

Used to refer to something far from both the speaker and the listener.

Numbers and Quantities in Japanese

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Counting to 10 (and Beyond) in Japanese

Like English, Japanese has two forms of counting: ordinal and cardinal. A cardinal number counts how many of something there are (one, two, three), while an ordinal number denotes the order or placement of something (first, second, third).

You’ll learn the ordinal numbers as you study, but knowing the numbers one through 10 is a good starting point for any learner. Here they are in Japanese, along with a few extras:

(いち) “ichi” — one

(に) “ni” — two

(さん) “san” — three

(し) “shi” — four

(ご) “go” — five

(ろく) “roku” — six

(しち) “shichi” — seven

(はち) “hachi” — eight

(きゅう) “kyuu” — nine

(じゅう) “juu” — ten

(ひゃく) “hyaku” — hundred

(せん) “sen” — thousand

Common Japanese Counters

Counters are small words added after numbers to indicate the type of item being counted.

There are many counters and you’ll have to become familiar with them as you study Japanese, but here are some key terms to get you started.

(にん) “nin” — People

(こ) “ko” — Small objects (such as soap, fruit, handbags)

(まい) “mai” — Flat objects (such as paper, CDs, clothing)

“tsu” — Misc. objects (orders of food, ideas; can also be used as a substitute for other counters)

(ほん) “hon” — long cylindrical objects (such as pencils, sticks or umbrellas)

(さつ) “satsu” — books

Useful Words for Japanese Numbers

いくつ “ikutsu” — How many…?

This is a general word to ask “how much” or “how many” of a numerical amount. For example: “Okashi wa ikutsu hoshii desu ka” — How many snacks do you want? It can also be used to ask someone’s age: Oikutsu desu ka?”— How old are you?

… (なん) “nan” — How many…?

Nan is a more specific way of asking how much of something there is. It works by combining nan with a counter, such as: “nanbon” — How many long cylindrical objects?; “nannin” — How many people?; “nanmai” — How many sheets?

多い (おおい) “ooi” — many

For example: “Kono eki wa hito ga ooi desu” — There are a lot of people at this station.

少ない (すくない) “sukunai” — few

For example: “Kono menyuu wa ryori ga sukunai desu” — This menu doesn’t have a lot of dishes. 

たくさん “takusan” — a lot

Takusan is similar to ooi. The notable difference being that takusan can function as a noun, adjective or adverb, while ooi is only an adjective. For example: “Kooen ni hana ga takusan arimasu.” — There are lots of flowers in the park.

少し (すこし) “sukoshi” — a little

Fun fact: Sukoshi is where the term “skosh” comes from! Maybe you’ve heard your parents or grandparents use it? Here’s an example of it in use: “Koohii ni sato wo sukoshi onegaishimasu” — A little sugar in my coffee, please.  

Time Phrases in Japanese

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These easy Japanese phrases will teach you how to ask for the time and understand the answers people will give you.

今何時ですか? (いまなんじですか?) “ima nanji desu ka” — What time is it?

If you want to make sure you get to your train on time, this phrase is vital. In casual situations, saying “Ima nanji?” will work just fine.

いつですか“itsu desu ka” — When is it?

For example: “Eiga wa itsu desu ka — When’s the movie?

どのぐらいかかりますか?“dono gurai kakarimasu ka” — How long does it take?

When asking casually, you can say dono gurai kakaru. Replies will often use kakarimasu in their ending, meaning “it will take (this amount of time.)”

何時から何時までですか?(なんじからなんじまでですか?) “nanji kara nanji made desu ka” — From what time until what time…?

You can get specific: “Ano mise wa nanji kara nanji made eigyou shiteimasuka” — What are that store’s operating hours? Or cut it short: “Ano mise wa nanji kara nanji made desu ka” — Literally, “That store is from what hour until what hour?”

…時です (じです) “…ji desu” — It’s … o’clock.

This plus a number is all you need to tell the time! For example: “Ichiji desu” — It’s 1 o’clock. 

…時間です (じかんです) “… jikan desu” — … hours.

After asking how long that movie’s going to last, or how long you’ll have to wait, you’ll get this response.  “Nijikan desu” — Two hours.

…分です (ふんです) “…pun/fun desu” — … minutes.

Same as “…jikan desu,” but for minutes. 分 will sound different depending on the number that comes before it, with variations like: “ippun” — one minute, “nifun” — two minutes, “sanpun” —  three minutes.

Japanese Phrases for Grabbing a Bite

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Okay, now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, it’s time to talk about what’s really important: food!

お腹が空いています (おなかが すいて います) “onaka ga suite imasu” — I’m hungry

This literally means your stomach has become empty. Some variations are onaka ga suita (less formal), onaka hetta, hara hetta (masculine) and onaka ga pekopeko (onomatopoeia that means your stomach is growling).

まだ食べていません (まだ たべて いません) “mada tabete imasen” — I haven’t eaten yet

For a more casual version, go ahead and say mada tabeteinai.

メニュー、お願いします (めにゅー、おねがい します) “menyuu, onegai shimasu” — Please bring me a menu

You can also opt for the more formal version: “Menyuu, onegai dekimasu ka?” — May I have the menu?

それは何ですか? (それは なんですか?) “sore wa nan desu ka” — What’s that?

You can use this phrase to ask what things are—perfect for getting new words! 

これを食べてみたいです (これを たべて みたい です) kore o tabete mitai desu” — I’d like to try this

See something that’s caught your eye on the menu? You can comment on it with this! 

をください “…o kudasai” — I’d like…

State whatever you’d like to order, and follow it with …o kudasai. For example: “Koohii o kudasai — I’d like a coffee, please. That’s my morning catchphrase!

がありますか“…ga arimasu ka” — Do you have…?

As a reply, you’ll simply hear arimasu.

付きですか? (…つき ですか?) “…tsuki desu ka” — Does it come with…?

If you want to know if certain foodstuffs are included with your order, use this to ask away. For example: “Furaido poteto tsuki desu ka?” — Does it come with fries? 

が食べられません (…が たべられません) …ga taberaremasen” — I can’t eat…

This is a good phrase for vegetarians, vegans and other people with dietery restrictions to learn. For example, niku” is “meat” and sakana is “fish,” so if you’re on a strict veg diet, you can say: “Niku to sakana ga taberaremasen” — I can’t eat meat and fish.

アレルギーあります (…あれるぎーが あります) “…arerugii ga arimasu” — I’m allergic to…

State whatever you’re allergic to and add this phrase to the end to inform your listener of your allergies. Just to be safe rather than sorry, you can ask “…ga haitte imasu ka?” which means, “Are/Is there any … in it?” For example: “Tamago ga haitte imasu ka?” — Are there any eggs in it?

おいしいです! “oishii desu!” — It’s delicious!

Oishii is a wonderful way to say something tastes great. If you’re just eyeballing a slice of cake, then oishisou, meaning “It looks delicious,” could be useful, too. A casual and “manly” way to say something is delicious is “umai!”

まずいです “mazui desu” — It’s terrible

Hopefully, you won’t need to use this phrase!

お腹一杯です (おなかが いっぱい です) “onaka ga ippai desu” — I’m full

Is your friend trying to make you try one more dish? Say this to let him know you can’t eat another bite! 

お勘定/お会計お願いします (おかんじょう/おかいけい、おねがい します) “okanjou/okaikei, onegai shimasu” — Check, please

If you want to split the bill, you can opt for one of these phrases:  “Warikan ni shite kudasai” —  Split the check, please; “Betsubetsu de onegaishimasu” — We’ll pay separately, please.

いただきます “itadakimasu” — Let’s dig in

This is used before digging into your meal, similar to “Bon appetite.”

ごちそうさまでした “gochisousama deshita” — Thanks for the meal

After you’ve finished that scrumptious bowl of squid-ink noodles, you can end your meal with gochisousama deshita. Like itadakimasu, this phrase is a fixture at every meal.

Japanese Phrases for Social Gatherings

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Show your friends and colleagues you know how to have fun with these phrases during social gatherings.

食べましょう (たべましょう) “tabemashou” — Let’s eat

When planning a fun day out with friends, there are a few casual phrases to use when discussing plans. If you decide to have lunch, state tabemashou!

飲みましょう (のみましょう) “nomimashou” — Let’s drink

You can also suggest grabbing a drink by using this phrase.

行きましょう (いきましょう) “ikimashou” — Let’s go

Once your plans are decided, it’s time to head out by saying this phrase.

やったー“yatta” — Yay!

Are you excited that you’ve made plans to meet up? This word, expressed enthusiastically, will get that point across.

乾杯! (かんぱい!) “Kanpai” — Cheers!

Once the party has begun, it’s essential to clink your glasses together and say kanpai! You say this phrase before drinking, not after.

嬉しいです (うれしい です) “Ureshii desu” — I’m happy

Meeting up with friends is a fun experience. Express your joy at your gathering with this phrase, before or after you’ve had a few drinks.

お代わりください (おかわりを ください) “okawari o kudasai” — Refill, please

Once you’ve started drinking and want a refill, state okawari o kudasai.

大丈夫です (だいじょうぶ です) “daijoubu desu” — I’m fine

This is a polite way to respectfully say “no,” such as when you’re done drinking for the night.

Shopping in Japanese

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With the streets brimming with food stalls and vendors, the high-end boutiques lining Ginza and the ultra-cool and unique souvenir shops, there’s no way to avoid shopping while traveling through Japan.

いらっしゃいませ “irasshaimase” — Welcome

You will hear a chorus of irasshaimase! when you enter a shop. After a day or two in Japan, you’re guaranteed to be hearing it in your sleep, too.

これは何ですか?(これは なんですか?) “kore wa nan desu ka” — What is this?

This phrase will work no matter what you’re asking about.

これは何というものですか? (これは なんという もの ですか?) “kore wa nan to iu mono desu ka” — What’s this called?

Similar to the phrase above. 

これはいくらですかkore wa ikura desu ka” — How much is this?

If the item you want doesn’t have a price tag on it, simply ask the store clerk this question.

ちょっと高いです (ちょっと たかい です) “chotto takai desu” — It’s a bit expensive

If you haven’t started your adventure of learning Japanese adjectives, then some essential shopping vocabulary is: yasui” — cheap, easy; “takai” — expensive, high; “takakunai” — inexpensive.

がありますか? (ほかの いろが ありますか?) “hoka no iro ga arimasu ka” — Do you have another color?

Maybe that shirt would look better in blue rather than red. Use this to ask away.

それを頂きます (それを いただきます) “sore o itadakimasu I’ll take it

Say this, and the clerk will be overjoyed they’ve made a sale!

クレジットカードは使えますか? (くれじっとかーどは つかえますか?) “kurejitto kaado wa tsukaemasu ka” — Can I use my credit card?

If you’d like to use a traveler’s check, then replace kurejitto kaado with: “Toraberaazu chekku” — traveler’s check. Your Suica and Pasmo cards, which are rechargeable cards you can use on Japanese trains, can also be used to pay for taxis or your groceries at select stores. You can ask: “Suika wa tsukaemasu ka?” — Can I use my Suica?

包んでいただけますか? (つつんで いただけますか?) “tsutsunde itadakemasu ka” — Can I have it gift wrapped?

Perfect for wrapping up those souvenirs for your friends and family back home! 

Japanese Slang

japanese words

When you’re making friends, you’ll hear tons of these terms going back and forth. Many slang terms are written in katakana, which marks them as being casual words.

So impress your new pals by jumping right in with these common Japanese slang terms!

ウケる (うける) “ukeru” — Funny, hilarious

Used in situations when something funny happens. Say your friend Kentaro made a great joke—by saying ukeru, you’ll let him know he struck your funny bone.

(ちょう) “chou” — Super

This word is used to add emphasis, like the words “super,” “really” or “very.” You could say, for example, that something is chou ukeru, or very funny.

ダサい (ださい) “dasai” — Lame

This one’s usually used to refer to things that are uncool or not fashionable.

キモい (ださい) “kimoi” — Gross

Kimoi is a contraction of the words “kimochi” — feeling, and “warui” — bad. It’s used when you see something disgusting, or that gives you the creeps.

ガチ (がち) “gachi” — Totally, really, seriously

Gachi implies that something actually took place, or was really as intense as the speaker claims.

半端ない (はんぱない) “hanpa nai” — Crazy, insane

Hanpa nai means that something is awesome or insane, but in a good way, like an epic roller coaster ride.

The Most Common Japanese Nouns

How’s this for some study motivation: knowing the 100 most common Japanese words means you understand 50% of the language! By establishing a core vocabulary, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build your house of Japanese knowledge.

To help get you to that halfway point, here are 100 of the most common Japanese nouns, divided into handy categories.

People

名前 (なまえ) “namae” — Name

(ひと) “hito” — Person

男の人 (おとこのひと) “otoko no hito” — Man

女の人 (おんなのひと) “onna no hito” — Woman

お母さん (おかあさん) “okaasan” — Mother

お父さん (おとうさん) “otousan” — Father

お姉さん (おねえさん) “oneesan” — Older sister

お兄さん (おにいさん) “oniisan” — Older brother

おじさん “ojisan” — Uncle

おばさん “obasan” — Aunt

お爺さん (おじいさん) “ojiisan” — Grandfather

お婆さん (おばあさん) “obaasan” — Grandmother

息子 (むすこ) “musuko” — Son

(むすめ) “musume” — Daughter

友達 (ともだち) “tomodachi” — Friend

学生 (がくせい) “gakusei” — Student

先生 (せんせい) “sensei” — Teacher

医者 (いしゃ) “isha” — Doctor

警察官 (けいさつかん) “keisatsukan” Police officer

Time

今日 (きょう) “kyoo” — Today

明日 (あした) “ashita” — Tomorrow

昨日 (きのう) “kinoo” — Yesterday

(あさ) “asa” — Morning

(ひる) “hiru” — Afternoon

(よる) “yoru” — Night

時間 (じかん) “jikan” — Time

(まえ) “mae— Before

(いま) “ima” — Now

(あと) “ato” — After

月曜日 (げつようび) “getsuyoubi” — Monday

火曜日 (かようび) “kayoubi” — Tuesday

水曜日 (すいようび) “suiyoubi” — Wednesday

木曜日 (もくようび) “mokuyoubi” — Thursday

金曜日 (きんようび) “kinyoubi” — Friday

土曜日 (どようび) “doyoubi” — Saturday

日曜日 (にちようび) “nichiyoubi” — Sunday

午前 (ごぜん) “gozen” — A.M.

午後 (ごご) “gogo” — P.M.

(ひ) “hi” — Day

(しゅう) “shuu” — Week

(がつ) “gatsu” — Month

(とし) “toshi” — Year

Directions

(うえ) “ue” — Above

(した) “shita” — Below

(ひだり) “hidari” — Left

(みぎ) “migi” — Right

(なか) “naka” — Inside

(そと) “soto” — Outside

(きた) “kita” — North

(みなみ) “minami” — South

西 (にし) “nishi” — West

(ひがし) “higashi” — East

Places

/場所 (ところ/ばしょ) “tokoro/basho” — Place

(いえ) “ie” — House

部屋 (へや) “heya” — Room

学校 (がっこう) “gakkou” — School

病院 (びょういん) “byouin” — Hospital

(みせ) “mise” — Store

ホテル (ほてる) “hoteru” — Hotel

空港 (くうこう) “kuukou” — Airport

(えき) “eki” Station

バス停 (ばすてい) “basutei” — Bus stop

入り口 (いりぐち) “iriguchi” — Entrance

出口 (でぐち) “deguchi” — Exit

(まち) “machi” — Town

都市 (とし) “toshi” — City

Vehicles

(くるま) “kuruma” — Car

電車 (でんしゃ) “densha” — Train

地下鉄 (ちかてつ) “chikatetsu” — Subway

自転車 (じてんしゃ) “jitensha” — Bicycle

飛行機 (ひこうき) “hikouki” — Airplane

タクシー (たくしー) “takushii” — Taxi

バス (ばす) “basu” — Bus

Food & Drink

食べ物 (たべもの) “tabemono” — Food

ご飯 (ごはん) “gohan” — Meal

朝ご飯 (あさごはん) “asagohan” — Breakfast

昼ご飯 (ひるごはん) “hirugohan” — Lunch

夕食/晩ご飯 (ゆうしょく/ばんごはん) “yuushoku/bangohan” — Dinner

(にく) “niku” — Meat

(さかな) “sakana” — Fish

果物 (くだもの) “kudamono” — Fruit

野菜 (やさい) “yasai” — Vegetable

飲み物 (のみもの) “nomimono” — Drink

お茶 (おちゃ) “ocha” — Tea

(みず) “mizu” — Water

コーヒー (こーひー) “koohii” — Coffee

ビール/ (びーる/なま) “biiru/nama” — Beer

Other Useful Terms

(ふく) “fuku” — Clothes

(くつ) “kutsu” — Shoes

テレビ (てれび) “terebi” — TV

電話 (でんわ) “denwa” — Phone

携帯電話 (けいたいでんわ) “keitai denwa” — Cell phone

映画 (えいが) “eiga” — Movie

ゲーム (げーむ) “geemu” — Game

値段 (ねだん) “nedan” — Price

(はし) “hashi” — Chopsticks

(ほん) “hon” — Book

(いぬ) “inu” — Dog

(ねこ) “neko” — Cat

(とり)“tori” — Bird

Japanese Goodbyes: Farewell, Friend. Let’s Keep in Touch.

japanese words

Saying goodbye is never easy, especially if you’re saying it to a loved one or new friend with whom you’ve shared your travel experiences. Let them know how much you care with one of the following farewells:

メアド教えてもらえますか?(めあどを おしえて もらえますか?) “meado o oshiete moraemasu ka” — Could I have your e-mail address*?

If that’s a little too long to memorize, you can ask: “Meruado o oshiete” — Can I get your e-mail address? (Literally, “teach me your email”)

手紙書くよ (てがみ かくよ) “tegami kaku yo” — I’ll write you letters

Maybe you’re into snail mail! It’s a great chance to practice writing Japanese.

着いたら、電話します/メールします (ついたら, でんわ します/めーる します) “tsuitara, denwa shimasu/meeru shimasu” — I’ll call/email you when I arrive

Let your new friends know you’re safe when you touch down in your home country.

またすぐに来ますよ (また すぐに きますよ) “mata sugu ni kimasu yo” — I’ll be back soon

After your trip to Japan, I’m sure you’ll want to head back as soon as possible!

遊び来てくださいね (あそびに きて くださいね) “asobi ni kite kudasai ne” — Come visit me

If you sincerely want someone to visit you, you can add this additional phrase: “Watashi no ie dewa, itsumo anata o kangei shimasu yo!” — You’re always welcome in my home!

じゃあ、また“jaa, mata!” — See you!

If you’re not going to be waving your handkerchief in a heartfelt goodbye (where “sayounara” — farewell would be more appropriate), then “jaa, mata!” is a great way to say “see you!” You can also use these options: “dewa mata” (slightly more formal), “jaa ne,” “jaa mata ashita ne” (see you tomorrow).

お元気で (おげんきで) o genki de” — Take care

If “see you” is a little too casual for you, then you can say o genki de, instead. This literally means “be healthy” and can be used to say, “Good luck!”

 

And there you have it! With these phrases, you’ll be able to make small talk with new friends, or show others that you’re sincerely interested in learning Japanese.

Just by incorporating a few of these phrases into daily life or conversation, you’ll be sure to hear 日本語が上手ですね! (にほんごが じょうず ですね!) “nihongo ga jouzu desu ne!” — You’re good at speaking Japanese!

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