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Common Japanese Phrases for Daily Use

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Japanese is a fascinating and rich language that can seem daunting to learn. However, knowing some common phrases can make daily interactions smoother and more enjoyable whether you’re a tourist or starting to learn Japanese. Here are some phrases you will likely use in everyday conversations:

おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu) – Good morning.
This is a polite way to say “good morning” in Japanese. The casual version, mainly used with friends and family, is simply “おはよう” (ohayou).
会社に着いたとき、同僚に「おはようございます」と挨拶しました。

こんにちは (konnichiwa) – Good afternoon or hello.
A greeting that can be used from late morning until late afternoon. It’s a versatile phrase and likely one of the first Japanese words learned.
店に入るとき、「こんにちは」と言って店員に挨拶した。

こんばんは (konbanwa) – Good evening.
This greeting is used in the late afternoon and evenings.
家に帰る途中で、隣人と会って「こんばんは」と言いました。

さようなら (sayounara) – Goodbye.
A formal way of saying goodbye, often used when you will not see the person for a while.
学校が終わった後で、友達に「さようなら」と言って家に帰った。

ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) – Thank you (polite).
This phrase shows gratitude in a more formal and polite manner. To say thanks more casually, you can just say “ありがとう” (arigatou).
プレゼントをもらった時に、「ありがとうございます」とお礼を言いました。

すみません (sumimasen) – Excuse me/I’m sorry.
This flexible phrase is used to get someone’s attention, to apologize for a mild inconvenience, or to thank someone for a service (often used instead of “thank you” by men).
電車で席を譲ってもらったので、「すみません」と言いながら席に座りました。

いただきます (itadakimasu) – Let’s eat/Bon appétit.
Said before eating to express gratitude for the food.
食事が始まる前に、家族全員で「いただきます」と言いました。

ごちそうさまでした (gochisousama deshita) – Thank you for the meal.
Spoken after eating as a polite way to thank the person who cooked or provided the meal.
食事を終えた後で、「ごちそうさまでした」と語尾を伸ばして感謝を表しました。

はい (hai) – Yes.
A respectful affirmation to a question or statement.
先生が質問したときに、「はい」と答えました。

いいえ (iie) – No.
A polite way to disagree or deny something.
友達が手伝うか尋ねた時、「いいえ、大丈夫です」と答えました。

どうぞ (douzo) – Please/Go ahead.
A polite term offering something to someone or allowing them to go first.
ドアを開けて、「どうぞ」と言って人を先に通しました。

お願いします (onegai shimasu) – Please (requesting a favor).
This phrase is used when you ask someone to do something for you.
手紙を出すときに、「お願いします」と言って郵便局員に渡しました。

Having a grasp of these phrases will enhance your ability to communicate effectively in Japanese for daily tasks and social interactions. It’s also a great starting point for those who wish to delve into the language more deeply. The more you use them, the more natural they will become. Don’t be afraid to practice them with native speakers, as they can offer valuable feedback and appreciation for your efforts to learn their language. Ganbatte kudasai (がんばってください) – Do your best!

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