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Greetings are very important in Japanese. Both greeting and parting phrases are
called aisatsu. Someone who makes no aisatsu may be seen as cold and
dysfunctional. These aren't all the aisatsuout there, but they'll give you a good start.
Ohayou gozaimasu.
Good morning. (Hi.)
Konnichi wa.
Good afternoon. (Hi.)
Good evening. (Hi.)
Good night. (Said before bedtime.)

Konban wa.
Oyasuminasai. (Lit. Have a good rest.)

It's been a long time.

How do you do? (Said when meeting someone
for the first time.)

Ohisashiburi desu.
Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

I ask that you treat me kindly. (This is said often

when you meet someone for the first time or
when you've asked them to do you some favor.)
Are you well?
Yes, I'm fine.

Ogenki desu ka.

Hai, genki desu.
Sayounara./Sayonara. (Sayonara is not normally
used when leaving one's own home unless one
is leaving for a very long time.)
Dewa mata./Ja mata./Mata ne.
Mata ashita.

See you.
See you tomorrow.
I'm going but I'll be back. (Said when leaving
Have a good time. See you later. (Response to Itterasshai.
Take care. (Be careful)
Ki o tsukete.
I'm home.
Welcome home. (Said in response to 'tadaima.') Okaerinasai.
I'm sorry for leaving before you. (Said as one
Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu.
leaves the office if leaving before other people.)
Thanks for working so hard. (Said to someone Otsukare sama deshita.
who's finished a task or in response to Osaki ni. )

Sorry to bother you. (Said when entering
someone's home.)
Please come in. (Lit. Please come up. Said to
someone entering your home.)

Oagari kudasi.

Just as saying a simple 'I'm sorry' will not work in every situation in English, there are
many different ways to apologize in Japanese. There are more forms than are listed on
this page; this is only an introduction.
sumimasen /

I'm sorry. (Excuse me.)

- Can be used to get someone's attention.

gomen nasai /

Forgive me. (The nasai form is polite.)

- Use for apologies or when declining something.

shitsurei shimasu

Please excuse me. (Lit. I'm going to break form.)

- Use when entering a room during a meeting (for serving tea etc.) or
when looking for something on someone's desk. (If you are intruding on
someone's time/space it's good to say this.)
- Used by school children as they enter the teachers' room.

shitsurei shimashita

Please excuse me, I was rude. (Lit. I broke form.)

- Use when exiting a room.
- Used by school children as they exit the teachers' room.

moushiwake gozaimasen /
I have no excuse. (The gozaimasen form is more polite.)
moushiwake arimasen
ikenai koto o shimashita I've done something I shouldn't have.
watakushi ga warukatta I was wrong. (Lit. I was bad.)

Common Sayings


I receive. (Said before eating a meal.)


Thank you for the meal. (Said after eating a meal.)

Gochisou sama deshita.

Do your best.

Ganbatte kudasai.

Are you all right?

Daijoubu desu ka?

I'm all right.

Daijoubu desu.

Here you are. (Offering a favor.)


Please do it. (lit. 'I beg you.') (Requesting a favor.)

Onegai shimasu.

Thank you (very much).

(Doumo) arigatou



You're welcome.


I don't understand.


Excuse me. (Getting attention)


I'm sorry.

Gomen nasai.

Is that so?

Aa sou desu ka?

That's tough isn't it?

Taihen desu ne.

How unfortunate

Zannen desu ne.

Excuse me. (I am rude. )

Shitsurei shimasu.

I am being rude by leaving before you. (Said when leaving the room
Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu.
before someone, particularly when leaving work before others.)
(You've worked hard so) you must be tired. (Said to someone
leaving work for home.)

Otsukare sama deshita.

Excuse me. (Said when entering someone's home.)

Ojama shimasu.



No, that's OK. (Said when refusing something.)

Iie, kekkou desu.

It can't be helped.

Shou ga nai.

Telephone Phrases
It is always difficult to talk on the phone in a language you don't understand well. Don't give up
though. Practice will help a lot. Listen very carefully to what the other person says. Talking on the
phone in Japanese has an added complication, since there are some formal phrases customarily
used in phone conversations. (The Japanese normally talk very politely on the phone unless
talking with a friend.)
Telephone Numbers
A telephone number (denwa bango) consists of the three parts, for example, (XX) XXXX-XXXX.
The first part is the area code. The second and last part are the person's number. Each number is

usually read separately, linking the parts with the particle "no". In telephone numbers 0 is often
pronounced as zero, 4 as yon, 7 as nana, and 9 as kyuu (as 0, 4, 7 and 9 each have two different
pronunciations). If you do not know the Japanese numbers, click here to learn them. If my phone
number were 1234-5678 it would be read "ichi ni san yon no go roku nana hachi." (Remember 'no'
takes the place of the dash in the number.)
To ask someone's number you can say Denwa bango wa nan ban desu ka.
In Japanese, a lot of set phrases are used when speaking on the phone, especially in business
situations. One important phrase is "moshi moshi." It is used by the caller when the person at the
other end picks up. Some people say "moshi moshi" to answer the phone, but "hai" is used more
often especially in business. (Do not say 'mushi mushi' that means 'bugs, bugs' and sounds rather
silly.) Moshi moshi can also be said when you think that the caller cannot hear you or to make
sure the caller is still on the line.
Before hanging up the phone it is common to say shitsurei shimasu or shitsurei itashimasu. This
indicates that you are about to hang up.

At the Office
Watanabe to moushimasu.

This is Mr./Ms. Watanabe.

Ogura-san wa irasshaimasu ka.

Is Mr./Ms. Ogura there?

Could I speak to Mr./Ms. Tanaka?

Tanaka-san o onegaishimasu.
Hai, orimasu.

Yes, he/she's in.

Moushiwake arimasen ga, tadaima gaishutsu shite


I'm sorry, he's/she's not here at the


Naisen no XX-ban o onegaishimasu.

I'd like extension XX please.

Shou shou omachi kudasai.

Just a moment, please.

Shitsurei desu ga, dochira sama desu ka.

Excuse me, but who's calling, please?

Nanji goro omodori desu ka.

Do you know about when he/she will be


Chotto wakarimasen.

I'm not sure.

Mousugu modoru to omoimasu.

He/she should be back soon.

Yuugata made modorimasen.

He/she won't be back till this evening.

Nanika otsutae shimashou ka.

Can I take a message?


Please do.

Iie, kekkou desu.

No, that's OK, thank you.

O-denwa kudasai to otsutae negaemasu ka.

Could you please ask him/her to call me?

Mata denwa shimasu to otsutae kudasai.

Could you please tell him/her I'll call back


Konban mata kakenaoshite kudasai.

Please call back this evening.

Someone's Home
Is this Mr./Ms. Yamada's residence?

Yamada-san no otaku desu ka.

Hai, sou desu.

Yes, it is.

Watakushi wa Ichiro desu ga.

This is Ichiro.

Haruko-san wa irasshaimasu ka.

Is Haruko there?

Yabun osoku ni sumimasen.

I'm sorry to phone you so late at night.

Dengon o onegaishimasu.

Can I leave a message?

Mata ato de denwa shimasu.

I'll call back later.

Phone Troubles
I'm sorry.

Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasai.

Please speak more slowly.

Mou ichido itte kudasai.

Please say it again.

Mou ichido onegaishimasu.

Could you repeat that please?

Wakarimasu ka.

Do you understand?


I don't understand.

Iie, chigaimasu.

No, you're mistaken. (Use this when people have dialed the
wrong number.)


I made a mistake. (I dialed the wrong number.)






Kaji da!

Call the police!

Keisatsu o yonde!

Get a doctor!

Isha o yonde!

Call an ambulance!

Kyuukyuusha o yonde!

Call the fire department!

Shoubousho o yonde!

Come quickly!

Isoide kite!

Go away!

Atchi e ike!

Give it back!




Don't touch me!


I'm lost.

Michi ni mayoimashita.

I'm ill.

Kibun ga suguremasen.

I'm hurt.

Kega shite shimaimashita.

Please help me.

Tasukete kudasai.