174 Basic Japanese Words and Phrases to Survive Everyday Life in Japan

With these 174 essential Japanese words and phrases, you’ll be prepared for any situation.

The Japanese language might take years to master, but what if you need to get through a conversation right now? Start by learning these Japanese daily vocabulary and the rest will follow.

Just click on a word or phrase to hear its native pronunciation.


Greetings and Starters

japanese girl saying hello

1. ohayou gozaimasu ( おはようございます ) — Good morning

The casual version of this greeting is ohayou ( おはよう ). In a workplace, someone greeting a colleague for the first time that day might use this phrase even if the clock reads 7 p.m.

2. konnichiwa ( こんにちは ) — Hello / Good afternoon 

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

3. konbanwa ( こんばんは ) — Good evening

From 5 p.m. onwards, you use konbanwa to greet people. Note that, in this case, は is read as “wa” rather than “ha.”

4. hisashiburi ( 久しぶり ) — It’s been a while

Use this for someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

5. o genki desu ka? ( お元気ですか? ) — How are you?

This is a polite way to ask someone how they are.

6. genki desu ( 元気です ) — I’m fine

Likewise, this is the most polite response to o genkidesu ka?

Basic Conversation

japanese friends having a conversation

7. o namae wa nan desu ka? ( お名前は何ですか? ) — What’s your name?

This is a polite way to ask someone for their name. The more informal version is O namae wa? ( おなまえは? ) — Your name is…?

8. … desu ( …です ) — I am … / It is …

Think of desu as roughly equivalent to the English word “to be.” Unlike “to be,” desu stays the same regardless of the subject.

For example: 

You can append this word to adjectives like:

Notice in the native Japanese pronunciation that the su is hardly audible. So, when you say desu, it sounds more like “dess” than “de-soo.”

9. watashi wa … desu ( 私は…です ) — I am …

This is the politest way to introduce yourself. For example:

Watashi wa Pouru desu.
I am Paul.

Be careful not to overuse watashi wa beyond introductions, though. In most cases, “your name/subject + -desu” will suffice if it’s clear from the context who or what you’re referring to.

10. … karakimashita ( … から来ました ) — I’m from … 

Simply use this to describe what country you’re from. Here’s a list of some countries in Japanese:

Many others are almost identical in Japanese, such as:

If you don’t know how to say your country’s name, say it in English—chances are, people will understand where you mean.

11. suki desu ( 好きです ) — I like it

You can say what you like by adding … ga suki desu ( が好きです ). For example:

Okashi ga suki desu.
I like sweets.

12. ii desu yo ( いいですよ ) — It’s good

You’ll also often hear ii yo ( いいよ ), especially from women/girls.

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

The less formal version would be suki dewa nai ( 好きではない ).

14. dame desu ( ダメです ) — It’s no good 

In more casual conversation, you can also say just:

15. takusan ( たくさん ) — A lot

Takusan is similar to ooi ( 多い ). The main difference is 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.

16. sukoshi ( 少し ) — A little

Here’s an example of it in use:

Koohii ni satou wo sukoshi onegaishimasu.
A little sugar in my coffee, please.  

17. ima nanji desu ka? ( 今何時ですか? )What time is it? 

In casual situations, saying ima nanji? ( 今何時? ) will work just fine. You’re probably already noticing that desu can be changed or even dropped in casual situations.

18. … ji desu ( …時です ) 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. 

19. nihongo de hanashimashou ( 日本語で話しましょう ) — Let’s talk in Japanese

Once you kick off a convo with this phrase, make sure you’re ready to do a lot of talking!

By the way, when you see or hear a verb paired with the suffix -mashou (- ましょう ), it suggests that someone is trying to get you to do the verb prior to -mashou.

20. yoroshiku onegaishimasu ( よろしくお願いします ) — Nice to meet you

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it can often be interpreted as “Please (do this favor for me),” “I am counting on you” or “I leave it to you.” You’ll often hear this from people making requests, starting a new relationship or asking for someone’s cooperation.

Japanese Pronouns

Cheerful Asian woman points at herself with thumb

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.

21. watashi ( ) — I (all genders)

Watashi is the go-to in polite situations. It’s sometimes pronounced watakushi ( わたくし ) for extra formality, and some female speakers may shorten it to atashi ( あたし ) in casual settings. No matter the pronunciation, though, they all use the character 私 in writing.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. jibun ( 自分 )Myself / Yourself / Themselves

Jibun is used to refer to a sense of self. It can also take a variety of forms, like:

Also, it’s a more polite way of referring to someone else.

25. anata ( あなた ) — You

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

26. 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” ( 君の名は ) — Your Name.

27. 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 also refer to someone’s boyfriend.

28. kanojo ( 彼女 ) — She / her

This is the feminine counterpart of kare. Like kare, kanojo can also be used to refer to a girlfriend.

29. tachi ( …たち ) — “… and company” (pluralizes pronouns)

To turn a pronoun into a plural, just add -tachi. For example:

30. kore ( これ )This

This is used to refer to something close to the speaker.

31. sore ( それ ) — That

This one is used to refer to something close to the listener.

32. are ( あれ ) — That (over there)

This is used to refer to something far from both the speaker and the listener.

Saying “Yes” and “No”

Asian men and women in business attire giving thumbs-up, yes

33. hai ( はい ) — Yes

Even if you only have a passing familiarity with Japanese, chances are you’ve heard this monosyllabic affirmation before. Aside from hai, another way to say “yes” in Japanese is with non-verbal cues like nodding your head up and down or giving a thumbs up.

34. sou desu ka ( そうですか ) — Is that right?

Saying this while nodding is a polite way to show that you’re paying attention when someone tells you something new. You can also use:

These are less formal, but generally acceptable and certainly not rude.

35. sou desu ( そうです ) That’s right 

You can also say hai, sou desu ( はい ,そうです ) — Yes, that’s right. However, the hai is implied and you can leave it off. In casual contexts, you can also just say sou ( そう ).

36. un ( うん ) / aa ( ああ ) / ee ( ええ )

The Japanese use aizuchi ( 相槌 ), which are simple words or gestures that  indicate you’re listening.

They don’t have direct English translations, but you could say they’re similar to saying “uh-huh” or “mm-hm” in English.

37. mochiron ( もちろん ) — Of course

This is not the “of course” you use to emphasize a point, but rather the one in “Of course, I’ll do that favor you’re asking me!”

38. ii desu yo ( いいですよ ) — Okay

This literally means “That’s good!” As such, it can be used to show your approval of something.

39. iie ( いいえ ) — no

This is the no-nonsense way to say “no.” However, Japanese culture prefers less direct approaches.

There are also several nonverbal 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.”

40. uun ( ううん )

This is a sound that indicates you don’t quite agree with what the person is saying.

41. iya ( いやー )

Whether this interjection means “no” depends on the context. If you suggest dinner and someone responds with iya…, they’re probably trying to politely turn you down with a non-committal “Well, you see…”

42. chotto… ( ちょっと… ) A little…

If you use chotto, remember to trail off at the end, as you’re basically saying, “It’s a little…” For instance, if someone asks what you’re doing tomorrow afternoon with the aim to meet up, you can respond with “Chotto…” to mean that tomorrow afternoon’s not an ideal time for you.

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

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

Saying “I Don’t Understand”

confused japanese girl with two question marks

43. wakarimasen ( 分かりません ) — I don’t understand

If you’re around friends, you can use the casual variant, wakaranai ( 分からない ).

44. mou ichido itte kudasai ( もう一度言ってください ) — Please say that again

If someone is speaking in Japanese far too quickly for you, you can use this phrase to politely tell them to repeat themselves. You can also say:

Saying “Please”

japanese girl bowing her head and apologizing

45. kudasai ( ください ) Please (requesting)

The word kudasai is used when making requests, as in these examples:

Isoide kudasai.
Please hurry.

Koohii o kudasai?
Can I please have a coffee?

46. douzo ( どうぞ ) — 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.

Saying “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome”


47. arigatou gozaimasu ( ありがとうございます ) — Thank you 

The friendlier, more casual way to say thanks is arigatou ( ありがとう ). You’ll also see its abbreviation, ari ( あり ), pretty often on Japanese message boards.

48. doumo ( どうも ) — Thank you

If you’re close friends with the person you’re thanking, you could also say doumo. In fact, you’ll sometimes see these combinations, which are used in very formal contexts:

Most of the time, though, just arigatou gozaimasu will suffice.

49. otsukaresama desu ( お疲れ様です ) — Thank you for your efforts

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

50. iroiro arigatou gozaimashita ( 色々ありがとうございました ) — Thank you for everything

Iroiro ( 色々 ) literally means “various things.” So, this is the expression to use if you’re thanking someone for doing a lot of things for you or if you’re not sure exactly what to thank them for.

51. mondai nai desu ( 問題ないです ) — No problem

Mondai ( 問題 ) means “problem,” and the addition of nai ( ない ) negates the problem. Therefore, you’re saying that the favor you performed didn’t trouble you at all.

52. douitashimashite ( どういたしまして ) — You’re welcome

Although this is technically the correct response to “Thank you,” it’s rarely used these days in casual Japanese conversation. But it’s still worth knowing if you want to respond to someone’s gratitude in a formal context.

Saying “Sorry” and “Excuse Me”


53. shitsurei shimasu ( 失礼します ) — 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.

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54. sumimasen ( すみません ) — 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.”

55. gomen nasai ( ごめんなさい ) — I’m sorry

In casual situations and among family members and friends, gomen nasai replaces sumimasen when saying sorry.

56. gomen: ごめん — I’m sorry

Gomen is even less formal than gomen nasai, and is reserved for people you’re truly close to.

Saying “Goodbye”

japanese girl saying goodbye

57. jaa, mata! ( じゃあ、また! ) — See you later!

You can replace mata with dewa mata ( ではまた ) for a slightly more formal expression. There’s also:

  • jaa mata ashita ne (じゃあまた明日ね) — see you tomorrow
  • jaa ne ( じゃあね ) — see you
  • mata ne ( またね ) — see you

58. o genki de ( お元気で ) — 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!”

59. meado wo oshiete moraemasu ka? ( メアドを教えてもらえますか? ) — Could I have your e-mail address?

If that’s a little too long to memorize, you can ask:

Meado wo oshiete?
Can I get your e-mail address? (Literally, “Teach me your email?”)

60. tegami kaku yo ( 手紙書くよ ) — I’ll write you letters

Do you prefer exchanging physical letters instead of emails? If so, keep this phrase handy for your Japanese penpals!

61. tsuitara, … shimasu ( 着いたら、… します ) — I’ll … you when I arrive

You can use this phrase as follows:

62. mata sugu ni kimasu yo: またすぐに来ますよ — I’ll be back soon

This is generally a casual phrase, as indicated by the ending yo ( ).

63. asobi ni kite kudasai ne ( 遊びに来てくださいね ) — Come visit me

Although asobi ( 遊び ) in this context means “to visit,” that word can also mean “to play”—adding an extra sense of warmth to this phrase.

64. watashi no ie dewa, itsudemo anata wo kangei shimasu yo! ( わたしの家ではいつでもあなたを歓迎しますよ! ) — You’re always welcome in my home!

Basic Question Words

two girls asking alexa a question

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

65. nani ( ) — What

Nani can be used alone or in a sentence. When placed before desu, the word nani drops its -i and becomes nan. For example:

Kore wa nan desu ka?
What is this? (Remember this phrase in particular—it’s going to come in handy in a variety of situations!)

66. doko ( どこ ) — Where

Doko is used when asking for a location, like this:

Toire wa doko desu ka?
トイレはどこですか ?
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?
どこですか ?
Where is it?

67. dare ( ) — Who

If you’re referring to a specific person, add it before dare:

Kanojo wa dare desu ka?
Who is she?

68. itsu ( いつ ) — When

Itsu is typically used in the following structure: itsu + verb (in the -masu form) or event + question marker ka.

Itsu kaerimasu ka?
When are you coming back?

69. doushite ( どうして ) — Why

If you need to ask politely, say it as Doushite desu ka? ( どうしてですか? ). If you’re with friends or family, you can use the casual form nande ( 何で ) instead.

70. naze ( なぜ ) — 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.

71. ikura ( いくら ) — How much

Just tack on the question marker desu ka? ( ですか? ) at the end of this word, and you’ll get ikura desu ka? ( いくらですか? )

A quick not: ikura also sounds like “salmon roe” ( イクラ ). So, if you’re using this phrase, make sure it’s clear from the context that you’re saying “How much?” and not “Is this salmon roe?”—the latter of which would be イクラですか?

72. ikutsu ( いくつ ) — 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?

Here, ikutsu is preceded by o ( ), which makes your question sound more polite and palatable for older folks!

73. nan … ( 何… ) — 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:

  • nanhon ( 何本 ) — How many long cylindrical objects?
  • nannin ( 何人 ) — How many people?
  • nanmai ( 何枚 ) — How many sheets?

74. dochira ( どちら ) — Which one?

Use this phrase when you’re referring to a choice between two objects.

75. dore ( どれ ) — Which one?

Use this one when you’re referring to a choice between three or more objects.

Travel Vocabulary

man traveling around in japan

This list of Japanese daily vocabulary will give you what you need to get around Japan and, in case of an emergency, ask for help. 

Public Transport

76. sumimasen, … wa doko desu ka? ( すみません、… はどこですか? Excuse me, where’s the …?

This construction comes in handy for phrases like the following. Just tack on your intended destination before wa doko desu ka:

77. kono densha wa … eki ni tomarimasu ka? ( この電車は… 駅に停まりますか? ) — Does this train stop at … station?

To say that Japan has one of the most intricate train systems would be an understatement. Luckily, you can easily untangle that intricacy with this simple phrase!

78. kono basu wa … ni ikimasu ka? ( このバスは…に行きますか? ) — Does this bus go to … ?

If you’re not sure where your public transport is stopping, you can also use this phrase. You can substitute basu with densha ( 電車 ) — train, takushi ( タクシー ) — taxi, and so on.

79. … made tsureteitte kudasai ( …まで連れて行ってください ) — Please take me to …

Use this phrase to tell the taxi driver where you want to go.

Hotel Phrases

80. yoyaku wo shitainodesuga ( 予約をしたいのですが ) — I’d like to make a reservation.

Like most hotels around the world, it’s advisable to make a booking in advance when it comes to Japanese hotels. However, if your hotel allows it, you may be able to book at the front desk.

81. yoyaku shiteimasu ( 予約しています ) — I have a reservation.

Use this phrase if you’ve already made a booking in advance.

82. chekkuauto wa nanji desu ka? ( チェックアウトは何時ですか? ) — What time is checkout?

This one is self-explanatory. You can also replace the word chekkuauto ( チェックアウト ) with anything that you want to know the time of.


83. michi ni mayotte shimaimashita ( 道に迷ってしまいました ) — I’ve lost my way.

If that feels like a bit of a mouthful, you could also just say mayotte shimaimashita ( 迷ってしまいました ).

84. tasukete! ( 助けて! ) — Help! (for emergencies)

All I’m going to say is, if you end up forgetting every other phrase that’s been listed so far, don’t forget this one. It could save your life—literally!

85. tetsudatte kuremasen ka? ( 手伝ってくれませんか? ) — Can you help me? (for everyday situations) 

If you’re not in a life-threatening situation, tetsudatte kuremasen ka will do.

86. … wo yondekudasai ( …を呼んでください ) Please call the …

Use this construction when you want someone else to contact emergency services, like so:

Here’s a useful note: The emergency numbers in Japan are 119 for an ambulance and 110 for the police. 

Phrases for Dining at a Restaurant


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

Here are some of the food words you should know:

87. kome ( ) — Rice (raw)

88. yasai ( 野菜 ) — Vegetables

89. kudamono ( 果物 ) — Fruit

90. miruku ( ミルク ) — Milk

91. pan ( パン ) — Bread

92. pasuta ( パスタ ) — Pasta

93. niku ( ) — Meat

94. jagaimo ( じゃがいも ) — Potatoes

95. tamago ( ) — Eggs

Saying You’re Hungry

96. onaka ga suite imasu (お腹が空いてます) — I’m hungry

This literally means your stomach has become empty. Some variations are:

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

For a more casual version, go ahead and say mada tabeteinai ( まだ食べていない ).

Before the Meal

98. menyuu, onegai shimasu ( メニュー、お願いします ) — Please bring me a menu

You can opt for the more formal version:

Menyuu, onegai dekimasu ka?
May I have the menu?

Also, you can substitute menyuu ( メニュー ) with:

99. kore wa nan desu ka? ( これは何ですか? ) — What’s this?

If the menu is entirely in Japanese, you can point to an item you want and direct this question at the waiter.

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

If you’re a little more adventurous, just point to the item you want and run with this phrase!

101. … wo kudasai ( …をください ) — I’d like …

State whatever you’d like to order, and follow it with … wo kudasai. For example:

Koohii wo kudasai.
I’d like a coffee, please.

102. … ga arimasu ka? ( …がありますか? ) — Do you have … ?

As a reply, you’ll simply hear arimasu ( あります ).

103. … tsuki desu ka ( …付きですか? ) — Does it come with … ?

If you want to know if certain foods are included with your order, use this to ask. For example:

Furaido poteto tsuki desu ka?
Does it come with fries? 

104. … ga taberaremasen ( …が食べられません ) — I can’t eat …

This is a good phrase to learn for vegetarians, vegans and other people with dietary restrictions. 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.

105. … arerugii ga arimasu ( …アレルギーがあります ) — I’m allergic to …

State whatever you’re allergic to and add this phrase to the end. Just to be safe rather than sorry, you can ask: … ga haitte imasu ka? ( が入っています か? ) which means, “Are / Is there any … in it?”  For example:

Tamago ga haitte imasu ka?
Are there any eggs in it?

106. kore wa … desu ka? ( これは…ですか? ) — Is this … ?

If you want to be more direct about whether a specific food meets your dietary requirements, you can insert one or more of the following between kore wa ( これは ) and desu ka ( ですか ):

You can also ask about portions with the same construction and by substituting the following:

107. kore wa nan karorīdesu ka? ( これは何カロリーですか? ) — How many calories are in this?

Generally, Japanese food is quite healthy and doesn’t have a ton of calories, but it won’t hurt to check!

During the Meal

108. itadakimasu ( いただきます ) Let’s dig in

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

109. mazui desu ( まずいです ) — It’s terrible

Ideally, you don’t want to end up in a restaurant where you have to say something like this, but sometimes it’s unavoidable!

110. okawari ( おかわり ) — Another serving, please

If you really like your food, you can let the lovely folks at the restaurant know by saying okawari. The more polite version would be okawari o kudasai ( おかわりをください ).

You can also say, depending on the context:

111. onaka ga ippai desu ( お腹が一杯です ) — I’m full

112. kanpai! ( 乾杯! ) — Cheers!

When you’re drinking with other people, it’s essential to clink your glasses together and say kanpai! You say this phrase before drinking, not after.

After the Meal

113. oishii desu! ( 美味しいです! ) — It’s delicious!

If you’re eyeballing a slice of cake, then oishisou ( 美味しそう ), meaning “It looks delicious,” could be useful. A casual and “manly” way to say something is delicious is umai ( 旨い ).

114. gochisousama deshita ( ごちそうさまでした ) — Thanks for the meal

Like itadakimasu, this phrase is a fixture at every meal. You say this when the meal is finished.

115. okaikei, onegai shimasu ( お会計、お願いします ) Check, please

This is the most common way to ask for a check. You may also hear okanjou, onegai shimasu ( お勘定 、お願いします ), though not as often. Just note that the word for “check” is kaikei ( 会計 ).

116. warikan ni shite kudasai ( 割り勘にしてください ) — Split the check, please 

If there are multiple people at the same table, this phrase will come in handy, as will betsubetsu de onegaishimasu ( 別々でお願いします ) — We’ll pay separately, please.

Cooking Phrases

You’ll likely be cooking for yourself at some point, even if it’s just toast. Here are some useful Japanese words if you plan on cooking.

117. zairyo ( 材料 ) — Ingredients

118. ryori ( 料理 ) — Cooking

119. o bento ( お弁当 ) — Readymade meal/TV dinner

120. retoruto gohan ( レトルトご飯 ) — Instant rice (for the microwave)

121. guramu ( グラム ) — Grams

122. kiroguramu ( キログラム ) — Kilograms

Shopping in Japanese

two japanese girls taking a selfie after shopping

With 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.

123. kore wa nan desu ka? ( これは何ですか ) — What is this?

If you want to be more specific, you could also say kore wa nan to iu mono desu ka? ( これは何というものですか? ) — What’s this called?

124. kore wa ikura desu ka? ( これはいくらですか? ) — How much is this?

If it’s clear from the context what you’re referring to, you can also just say ikura desu ka? いくらですか?

125. chotto takai desu ( ちょっと高いです ) — It’s a bit expensive

If you haven’t started your adventure of learning Japanese adjectives, then here’s some essential shopping vocabulary:

126. … ga ari masu ka ( _がありますか? ) — Do you have…?

127. hoka no iro ga arimasu ka? ( 他の色がありますか? ) — Do you have another color?

Some colors you may come across include:

128. … wo kudasai ( _をください ) — I’d like …, please.

129. sore wo itadakimasu ( それを頂きます ) I’ll take it

If the phrase itadakimasu sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also the one used when you’re about to dig into a tasty meal. In the same way, saying sore o itadakimasu when you’re buying something expresses that you’re thankful for what you bought.

130. kurejitto kaado wa tsukaemasu ka? ( クレジットカードは使えますか? ) — Can I use my credit card?

If you’d like to use a traveler’s check, then replace kurejitto kaado with: toraberaazu chekku ( トラベラーズチェック ) — 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?

131. tsutsunde itadakemasu ka? ( 包んでいただけますか? ) — Can I have it gift-wrapped?

132. hai, onegaishimasu ( はい、お願いします ) — Yes, please 

133. īe, kekkō desu ( いいえ、結構です ) — No, thank you 

Common Phrases You’ll Hear in Japanese Shops

If you’re wondering what the shopkeepers mean when they throw these phrases at you—well, now you know!

134. irasshaimase ( いらっしゃいませ ) — Welcome

You will hear a chorus of irasshaimase! when you enter a shop.

135. honjitsu wa (_) ga seru desu ( 本日は (_) がセールです ) — (This product) is on sale today

_ いかがですか? is often used to invite you to take a look at specific products or try a free sample. You may also come across the term hangaku ( 半額 ) — half-price.

136. fukuro ni ire masu ka? ( 袋に入れますか? ) — Would you like a bag?

Got a ton of items to carry home? If the Japanese shop you’re in graciously offers you this, lucky you!

137. ni nari masu (amount) ( になります ) — That’s (amount), please

138. wo okaeshi itashi masu (amount) ( をお返しいたします ) — Here’s your change (+ amount)

Shopping Words in Japanese

139. en ( ) — yen 

In Japan, the currency is Japanese yen. 100 yen usually comes to around $0.90 to $1.10 USD. If you think of 100 yen as around a dollar when you go shopping, it’s a good way to keep track of your budget.

140. suupaa ( スーパー ) — supermarket 

141. konbiniensusutoa / konbini ( コンビニエンスストア / コンビニ ) — convenience store 

142. yubin kyoku ( 郵便局 ) — post office 

143. nichi yōhin ( 日用品 ) — groceries

144. kaimono kago ( 買い物かご ) — basket

145. shoppingu kato ( ショッピングカート ) — shopping cart 

146. muryō sanpuru ( 無料サンプル ) — free sample 

147. kaikei ( 会計 ) — cash register  

Phrases for Home


148. tadaima ( ただいま ) — I’m back

Everyone says this when they arrive home. If you go out, say this when you get back to let everyone know you’ve arrived home safely. If you want to, you can also say it when coming back from the bathroom; it tends to go down well.

149. okaeri nasai ( おかえりなさい ) — Welcome back

This is said in response to tadaima. You can use this when someone else gets home, like when a parent returns from work or when a sibling gets back from cram school.

150. ofuro ni haitte mo ii desu ka? ( お風呂に入ってもいいですか? ) — May I take a bath?

In Japan, most families take a bath every night, and if you’re staying somewhere like with a host family, you’ll be welcome to have one too if you ask.

If you’d prefer to take a shower (I did), you can just replace the word ofuru ( お風呂 ) — bath with shawaa ( シャワー ) — shower. Just make sure you don’t throw the bath water out when you’re done, as the family shares the hot water.

151. oyasumi nasai ( おやすみなさい ) — Good night

You can also leave off the -nasai to make it less formal.

Phrases for Casual Conversations

guy using his laptop at a cafe and laughing

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.

152. ikimashou ( 行きましょう ) — Let’s go

Once you’ve decided on your plans for the day with friends, it’s time to head out by saying this phrase.

153. tabemashou ( 食べましょう ) — Let’s eat

If you decide to have lunch with friends, state tabemashou!

154. nomimashou ( 飲みましょう ) — Let’s drink

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

155. yattaa! ( やったー! ) — Yay!

This is generally an informal phrase. It’s something you use when you want to express that you’re excited, or that you’re happy about the outcome of something.

156. ureshii desu ( 嬉しいです ) — I’m happy

If you want to convey, in no uncertain terms, that you’re happy, then this is the phrase to whip out.

157. daijoubu desu ( 大丈夫です ) — I’m fine

Aside from conveying that you’re all right, this is a polite way to respectfully say “no,” such as when you’re done drinking for the night.

158. yoroshiku ne ( よろしくね ) — Nice to meet you

This is the casual version of yoroshiku onegaishimasu—a phrase that can also translate to “Please take care of me” or “I’ll leave it up to you.”

159. doushita no? ( どうしたの? ) — What’s wrong?

Does your friend seem down? Tell them this phrase to cheer them up.

160. yabai ( やばい ) — 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.”

161. yokatta ( よかった ) — Good, excellent, nice

This is an expression of relief, a bit like “Oh, thank goodness!”

162. ganbatte ( 頑張って ) — Do your best

This simple word means either “Good luck” or “Do your best.” In more formal situations, you’d say Ganbatte kudasai ( 頑張ってください )

163. omedetou! ( おめでとう! )  — Congrats!

The formal variant is omedetou gozaimasu ( おめでとうございます ) — Congratulations.

164. zenzen ( 全然 ) — Not at all (with neg. verb)

In a nutshell, zenzen is the Japanese phrase of denial. It can be used either sincerely or not, such as when answering your mother when she asks, “Am I bothering you?”

165. maji de? ( マジで? ) — Really?

You can express your surprise with this casual phrase, or its even more casual and assertive variant maji ka yo? ( マジかよ? )

166. hontou? ( 本当? ) — Really? / Seriously?

This word translates literally to “truth,” “reality,” “actuality” or “fact.” In question form, it comes across more like a surprised,“Are you serious?”

167. usoo! ( うそー! ) — No way!

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

168. yappari ( やっぱり ) — As expected

If you’re not surprised, you can use this word to say, “I knew it!”

Japanese Slang


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.

169. ukeru ( ウケる ) — Funny, hilarious

Let’s say your friend made a great joke. By saying ukeru, you’ll let him know he struck your funny bone.

170. chou ( ) — Super

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

171. dasai ( ダサい ) — Uncool

You’ll often hear young people say dasai to refer to something that’s boring, unfashionable, etc.

172. kimoi ( キモい ) — Gross

Kimoi is a contraction of the words kimochi ( 気持ち ) — feeling, and warui ( 悪い ) — bad. 

173. gachi ( ガチ ) — Totally, really, seriously

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

174. hanpa nai ( 半端ない ) — Crazy, insane

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


And there you have it! With these phrases and some core vocabulary, 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 these Japanese daily vocabulary into your conversation, you’ll soon be sure to hear nihongo ga jouzu desu ne! ( 日本語が上手ですね ) — You’re good at speaking Japanese!

And One More Thing...

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