The First Step in Learning Japanese: 10 Basic Greeting Phrases

The First Step in Learning Japanese
: 10 Basic Greeting Phrases


When learning a new language, the first words that are taught are usually common greetings. This article introduces 10 basic Japanese greetings to help you prepare for your language and study abroad program in Japan.

  1. 「おはようございます」/ Good morning.
  2. 「こんにちは」/ Hello.
  3. 「こんばんは」/Good evening.
  4. 「おやすみなさい」/Good night.
  5. 「さようなら」/See you./ Goodbye.
  6. 「おつかれさまです」/ Phrase used after (any sort of) work has been done
  7. 「ありがとうございます」/ Thank you very much.
  8. 「いただきます」/ Phrase used before eating
  9. 「ごちそうさまでした」/ Phrase used after eating
  10. 「ごめんなさい」/I’m sorry.


1.「おはようございます」/ Good morning.

The word ohayou gozaimasu is the English equivalent of “good morning.” For close friends and juniors, the more frank ohayou will suffice.

This is a phrase commonly used in the morning, but is also used in the evening by people who begin working at night. Just like the word “hello” can be used throughout the day, so can “ohayou gozaimasu.” (This is especially true when meeting a colleague for the first time on that day.) You’ll get the hang of it as you live in Japan.


2.「こんにちは」/ Hello.

Konnichiwa translates to “hello” in English. There’s no set rule that defines the time of day this word should be used, but it’s usually used when greetings people between the hours of 11:00 and 18:00.


3.「こんばんは」/Good evening.

“Good evening” in Japanese is konbanwa. This greeting is often used when greeting people after 18:00.


4.「おやすみなさい」/Good night.

The word for “good night” in Japanese is oyasuminasai. It’s used before you go to bed or when telling friends goodbye before you go home at night.

A more casual phrase for close friends or relatives is oyasumi.


5.「さようなら」/See you./ Goodbye.

Sayonara is how the Japanese say “goodbye.” This is a phrase used towards elders. For close friends, you can use the more casual matane.


6.「おつかれさまです」/ Phrase used after (any sort of) work has been done

Otsukare sama desu is a phrase use after work or any activity has been completed. You can use this phrase after the workday is finished or after a game ends.

For those you meet in the workplace, you can replace common greetings like “ohayou gozaimasu” or “konnichiwa” with this unique phrase.


7.「ありがとうございます」/ Thank you very much.

If you want to say “thank you very much” in Japanese, then say arigatou gozaimasu.
For friends and other close individuals, you can use the more casual arigatou.


8.「いただきます」/ Phrase used before eating

In Japan, people use the phrase itadakimasu before eating meals. The phrase is meant to show appreciation for the people who make the food as well as the food itself.


9.「ごちそうさまでした」/ Phrase used after eating

After eating, people say gochisou sama desita. Like the previous phrase, this one is also meant to show thanks to the people who make the food and the foot itself.


10.「ごめんなさい」/I’m sorry.

Gomen nasai is the Japanese phrase for “I’m sorry.” If you feel bad about doing or saying something, use this phrase to apologize.

This article introduced 10 basic phrases that you can use to exchange basic greetings with Japanese people. Use it to make new friends!

The detailed nuances might feel difficult at first, but it’ll come naturally if you live in Japan, so don’t worry!

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