Lesson 1: Greetings

Read this page briefly and spend most of your time on the drill exercise for quick memorization.


Click button to play audio.

When you meet or leave someone

Pronounce "n" and "ni" separately. It's like "kon-nichiwa".

Good morning.

The last vowel "u" is not pronounced ly. It's like "gozaimas".

Informal: Ohayō.

Good evening.

Used at the beginning of the conversation, not at the end.

Good night.

Informal: Oyasumi.


In general, used when people will not see each other for some time.

Informal: Sayonara. (short "o" after y).

See you.
See you tomorrow. Dewa mata ashita.
See you next week. Dewa mata raishū.

dewa: well, now or so

mata: again

When you thank or apologize to someone
Thank you.
Thank you very much. Dōmo arigatō gozaimasu.
Thank you. (past) Arigatō gozaimashita.
Thanks. Dōmo.

The last vowel "u" is not pronounced ly. gozaimas(u).

Dōmo arigatō gozaimasu.: To emphasize.

Arigatō gozaimashita.: To thank for something in the past.

Dōmo.: To thank for a small favor.

Informal: Arigatō.

You're welcome.
Don't mention it. Iie.

Iie. (literally means "No.") also can be used with the rising accent if it's not a big deal.

Excuse me.
Yes. Hai.

Used when you talk to someone, and to apologize for small faults (Sorry.).

Hai. (Yes.) can be used to answer someone's call.

I'm sorry.
I'm sorry. Dōmo sumimasen.
Don't be sorry. Iie.

Dōmo sumimasen. is also used. It sounds more polite.

As a response, Iie. can be used if it's not a big deal.

When you start or finish eating
(before eating)

Literally means "I accept (the food)". Used when you start eating as a signal "Let's start".

You can say this to the person who is treating you the meal.

(after eating)

Literally means "It was a wonderful feast". Used when you finished eating.

You can say this to thank the person who treated you the meal.

You can download audio recordings of all the sample expressions at Resources page.

In this course, all the Japanese words and sentences are shown in Rōmaji (Roman alphabet). See Rōmaji page to check how to pronounce Rōmaji letters.

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Basic Rules

How to address a person

In general, add "san" after one's family name.

"san" is like Mr., Mrs., or Miss..

For example, Mr. Tanaka is Tanaka-san. But for foreigners (westerners), people add san after the first names such as Paul-san or Kate-san.

Except for the close relationships, people address almost anybody with san.

Hello, Mr. Tanaka. Tanaka-san, konnichiwa.

Yes and No

Yes is "hai". No is "iie".

As shown above, Hai. and Iie. can be used in the different contexts.

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Communication Tips

Styles of speech - plain, honorific and informal

Spoken Japanese has some variations - plain, honorific and informal. People use different styles of speech in different situations. For example, the same person uses the plain style at work and the informal style at home.

Plain style is a standard textbook language. Newscasters speak in this style.

Honorific style is called "keigo" in Japanese, and is used when you speak to a person who is in higher status.

Informal style is used in close relationships such as with friends or with family members.

In this course, you will learn the plain style of speech. In addition, frequently-used honorific and informal expressions are included.

In the Japanese society, politeness is one of the most cherished value. Using plain (standard) language is taken to be a polite attitude. It's safe for you to use the plain language till you become fluent enough.

Inappropriate use of informal (casual) language could be taken as rude or offensive.

As you can see in this lesson, informal expressions are shorter in many cases.

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Drill Exercise

Drill. A Drill. B Drill. C
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Basic Japanese Course

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