Deciding to Learn Japanese

By OptiLingo

So you’ve decided to learn Japanese. Well, congratulations and good luck! If you want to learn Japanese, it can be quite daunting, so I’m going to kick off a series of posts to help you learn Japanese.

In this post, I’m going to share a bunch of common phrases that can help you to survive in Japan or when having conversations with people who speak Japanese. Having knowledge of these phrases beforehand can increase your chance of mastering Japanese:

Common Phrases (in English) Common Phrases (in Japanese)
1 Good Morning おはようございます (ohayougozaimasu)
2 Good Afternoon こんにちは (konnichiwa)
3 Good Evening こんばんは (konbanwa)
4 Good night おやすみなさい (oyasumi nasai)
5 Good bye さようなら (sayounara)
6 Excuse Me すみません (sumimasen)
7 Thank You ありがとうございます (arigatougozaimasu)
8 What Happened? どうした? (doushita?)
9 Welcome ようこそ (yōkoso)
10 Hello (on phone) もしもし (moshi moshi)
11 How are you? お元気ですか? (o genki desu ka)
12 Reply to ‘How are you?’ はい、元気です。あなたは?
(hai, genki desu. anata wa?)
13 What’s your name? お名前はなんですか? (o-namae wa nan desu ka)
14 My name is … … だ (… da) (informal)
…です (… desu) (formal)
15 Where are you from? 出身はどこですか?
(Shusshin wa doko desu ka?)
どちらからですか
(Dochira kara desu ka?) – (formal)
16 I’m from … ~出身です(… shusshin desu)
私は~出身です(watashi wa … shusshin desu)
17 Pleased to meet you 初めまして (hajimemashite)
18 I don’t know わからない (wakaranai) – informal
わかりません (wakarimasen) – formal
19 I understand わかります (wakarimasu)
わかる (wakaru) informal
20 I don’t understand わかりません (wakarimasen) – formal
わからない (wakaranai) – informal
21 Please say that again もう一度、言ってください (mō ichido, itte kudasai)
22 Do you speak English? 英語はできますか (Eigo wa dekimasu ka?)
23 How much is this? いくらですか (ikura desu ka?)
24 Please ください (kudasai)
25 Please speak more slowly ゆっくり話してください (yukkuri hanashite kudasai)
26 Where’s the toilet? トイレはどこですか (toire wa doko desu ka?)
27 I love you 愛してるよ (aishiteru yo)
28 Call the police! 警察を呼んでください!
(keisatsu o yonde kudasai!)
29 Birthday greetings お誕生日おめでとうございます
(otanjōbi omedetō gozaimasu)
30 Sorry, I didn’t understand that すみません。分かりませんでした
(sumimasen. wakarimasen deshita)
31 What did you say? なんて言いましたか
(nan te iimashita ka?)
32 What does this mean? これはどういう意味ですか
(kore wa dōiu imi desu ka)
33 There’s a problem in the room その部屋の中に問題があります
(sono heya no naka ni mondai ga arimasu)
34 The air conditioner is too noisy エアコンがうるさすぎます
(eakon ga urusasugimasu)
35 Can I have another room? 他の部屋へ移れますか
(hoka no heya e utsuremasu ka?)
36 I am a vegetarian 私は菜食主義者です
(watashi wa saishokushugisha desu)
37 I miss you あなたがいなくて寂しいです (anata ga inakute sabishī desu)
38 I’m lost 迷ってしまいました。 (Mayotte shimai mashita)
39 I’m looking for john. Johnを探しています。(John wo sagashite imasu.)
40 Hold on please! (phone) ちょっと待ってください。(Chotto matte kudasai.)
41 Can I help you? お手伝いしましょうか?(Otetsudai shimashouka?)
42 What’s new? 最近どうですか?(Saikin dou desuka?)
43 Nothing much 変わりないです。(Kawari nai desu.)
44 Good/ So-So. 元気です。/ まあまあです。(Genki desu. / maa-maa desu.)
45 Can you help me? 手伝ってくれますか?(Tetsudatte kuremasuka?)
46 I like it. 好きです (suki desu)
47 It’s good. いいですよ (ii desu yo)
48 It’s no good. ダメです (dame desu)
49 Let’s talk in Japanese. 日本語で話しましょう (nihongo de hanashimashou)
50 Hello! (Greetings) こんにちは (konnichiwa)


How to learn Japanese

If you want to know how to learn Japanese, you should try checking out some of my other posts. I talk a bit about Japanese grammar and provide a bunch of resources on the most useful Japanese phrases. For anyone who wants to know how to learn Japanese, this post is going to be a bit unique. I’m going to provide some common phrases, but I’m also going to provide the rules that govern why these phrases translate to English in the way that they do.

Using Japanese Expressions in Real Situations

The following are examples of real-time scenarios where Japanese language is applied as a means of conveying meaning and communication:

Greetings

Paul, Good morning = Paul-san, ohaiyogozaimasu

Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tanaka = Tanaka-san wa hajimemashita.

Goodnight, James = James-san, oyasuminasai

Basic Rules

Normally, you are expected to add “san” after one’s family (last) name.

“san” is like Mr., Mrs., or Miss.

For example, Mr. Taniguchi is Tanaka-san. But for foreigners (westerners), you may meet people who add san after your first name like Jerry-san or Steven-san.

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

Self-Introduction

My name is Mary = Watashi wa Mary desu

I’m from the United States = Amerika kara kimashita

I am American = Watashi wa Amerika-jin desu.

I am a student = Watachi wa gakusei desu.

My boyfriend is a teacher = Watashi no boifurendo wa sensei desu.

Basic rules for anyone interested in how to learn Japanese; explanation of the above.

noun + no = possessive

watashi no: my / anata no: your / kare no: his / kanojo no: her

Japanese language does not have articles (a, an, the).

You can think that nouns don’t change the form. Basically, there is no plural form, and no gender (feminine, masculine, neuter etc.)

Traveling around

Where is this? = Koko wa doko desuka?

Where is the train station? = Eki wa doko desuka?

Where is the bus stop? = Basu tei was doko desuka?

Where is the supermarket? Suupa wa doko desuka?

Do you have a bicycle? = Jitensha o motteimasu ka?

Basic Rules

Doko (where), koko (here), soko (there) and asoko (over there) refer the place.

Questions normally end with ka?

Shopping

Is there a convenience store nearby = Chikaku ni konbini wa ari masuka?

Where’s camera section? = Kamera uriba was doko desuka?

Can I try this on? = Shichaku dekimasuka?

Do you have a little smaller size? = Mosukoshi chiisai saizu wa ari masuka?

Do you have other brands? = Hoka no burando was arimasuka?

Exchanging contact information

Can you tell me your phone number? = Denwabango o oshiete moraemasuka?

Do you have a cell phone? = Keitai o motte imasuka?

Where do you live? = Doko ni sunde imasuka?

Eating Out

What do you want to eat? Nani o tabe tai desuka?

How about Italian food? = Itaria ryori wa do desuka?

Do you like bread? = Pan was suki desuka?

Likes & Dislikes

I like sushi very much. = Sushi ga dai suki desu.

I like sushi = Sushi ga suki desu.

Sushi is OK = Sushi ga mama suki desu.

I don’t like sushi very much =Sushi ga amari suki dewaarimasen.

I don’t like sushi. = Sushi ga kirai desu.

I hate sushi. = Sushi ga dai kirai desu.

suki: like, be fond of

kirai: dislike

dai_: Used to emphasize the following word. Only applicable to some words such as suki and kirai, not to all.