List of common greetings/expressions

In Japanese, there are a lot of set expressions that are used in various situations. When you arrive at your house, you say one thing yet when you enter someone else’s home, you say something else. Other situations include when you start and finish eating or when you’re leaving your house. I remember when I was learning Japanese, I wished that I had a handy list of such expressions. (I looked on google and couldn’t find such a list) So as a service to the Internet community, I’ll post such a list here.

Because I’m such a fan of eating, we’ll first discuss the expressions used before and after you eat.

– Said before a meal. Literally means, “I will receive” using the humble form of the verb “to receive”.
– Said after a meal. Literally means, “It was a feast”. 「ごちそうさま」 is a less formal version.

You really ought to know these already if you’ve spend any time studying Japanese.

– Good Morning.
2. こんにちは (The 「は」 is pronounced 「わ」)
– Good Day.
3. こんばんは (The 「は」 is pronounced 「わ」)
– Good Evening.

Expressions for coming and going
Here are some more expressions to use when you are coming or going, usually from home.

– You say this when you go out. Literally it means, “I’ll go and then come.”
2. いってらっしゃい
– You say this to the person leaving if you are staying behind.
3. ただいま
– Used when you come back home.
4. 帰り/お帰りなさい
– Welcome back. お帰り is a less formal version

Here are two more expressions for work-related occasion.

– Most often used as a parting expression after work. If the person is leaving, you can also say the past tense: お疲れ様でした. お疲れさん is also a possibility though mostly only used by middle-aged men.
2. ご苦労様ご苦労様です
– This expression is used when somebody has finished doing some work for you. Be careful with this one because it puts you in a higher position of having requested the work. You can also say ご苦労さん though again, this is used mostly by middle-aged men.

Other expressions
Here’s some more that I couldn’t fit into it’s own category.

– Good night. お休み is a less formal version.
2. 邪魔します
– When you enter somebody else’s home. Literally means, “I will intrude”.
3. 失礼します
– Polite way to indicate you are leaving. Also used before hanging up on the phone. Literally means, “I’m doing a discourtesy.

9 thoughts on “List of common greetings/expressions

  1. as is often the case with newly learned words, “tadaima” once came out of my mouth as “itadama,” and my japanese friend thought this was so funny she has since adopted it into the language. look for it in japanese slang dictionaries 10 years from now….

  2. You will need to know at least hiragana. Check out the “About” link. I also put mouse-over popup readings for all the kanji (too lazy to do the rest). If you’re having encoding problems, I suggest using google to see how to update your computer.

  3. Since you require kana knowledge in this post, it will not be useful to the complete beginner. And to anyone else it was pretty bland, for Tae Kim standards. I mean, I’d forgive you if this was a random useless lesson, but you can do better than that (and your fans are waiting 😉 Cheers.

  4. there’s nothing wrong with this post. many beginners learn hiragana right off the bat. plus, i own about 20 books on japanese (damn the power japanese series), but i don’t own one phrasebook (mainly because they’re almost exclusively published in romaji) and i sorely wished i had a phrase book when i recently spent a month in japan.

  5. This post is so useful. But it’ll be even better if you had some romanji or hiragana beside the kanji. Please don’t assume that every beginner knows how to look up in a dictionary 😉 Thanks a lot

  6. I just found you site and I copyed the common greetings/expressions. It’s very great! I’ll come back to see what’s next. Just need to practice the pronouncing.

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