第22課: Basic Daily Expressions 

     The material in this lesson is very sensitive to speech level. As there is so much that can be said about any given topic, we will see later how speech style affects such phrases.

Greetings and Salutations

  Polite greetings are important to daily life in Japan. おはようございます is "good morning", and many people who don't speak Japanese know about 今日は (good afternoon) and 今晩は (good evening). These two came about from people greeting each other with comments about the weather. As you may already know, 今日は can also be used when there is no exact sense of time of day.  

Good night is お休みなさい. It can not only be used when parting with someone at night, but it is also used towards those who have passed away. The more honorific お休みなさいませ, though, cannot be used in the latter way.  

Farewell/See you later 

Japanese has lots of farewell phrases. First, "see you tomorrow" can simply be また明日(ね). You may just want to say じゃ(あ)、あとで (see you later). またいずれ means "see you sometime". In casual daily life,  じゃあね, じゃあな (masculine), またね, and またな (masculine) are very common. バイバイ is also common among young people.

As you can imagine, these don't fly in truly polite and formal situations. (それでは、)失礼します is a great way to politely leave and give adequate respect to the addressee. When in a hurry, どうも may also suffice. それでは(また) is also common, but it is used more by men. 

さよ(う)なら doesn't simply mean "goodbye". Your teacher may say it to you, but you shouldn't use it towards your teacher. It often has the meaning that you won't see the person, especially when you are equals. This is because the pattern is not really polite. 

Introducing Oneself 

   A common 自己紹介じこしょうかい (self-introduction) has the following. 

  1. 自己紹介させていただきます = Allow me to introduce myself.
  2. (はじ)めまして = Nice to meet you
  3. A greeting based on the time of day
    Good morning: おはようございます  Good afternoon: こんにちは  Good evening: こんばんは
  4. Name/age.
  5. 出身   Ex. 東京の出身です。
  6. Occupation/education status  Ex. 学部の一年生です。 (I'm a first year undergraduate student).
  7. 終わりの言葉ことば (Ending phrase) 
  8. (どうぞ)よろしく(おねがい[します・いたします]

Word Note: よろしく alone is casual. おい{します・いたします} is like "keep me in mind". 

Culture Note: If you meet someone again in the same day, you may simply bow respectfully (会釈えしゃく). When meeting someone during the day, it is also common to say things like いいお天気ですね. 






Definition Note: こちらこそ = Likewise. 

おげんきですか & ひさしぶりですね

Whenever we meet someone, we often ask, "How are you?". In Japanese, you ask お元気ですか. Other phrases exist, but this is the most fundamental one. The response to this could be 元気です or だいじょうぶです respectively. だいじょうぶですか = Are you all right? 

The default way to say "long time no see" is (お)(ひさ)しぶりです(ね).  You can also say しばらくでした (it's been a while).  When you feel like it's your fault for having not seen someone, you can say ご無沙汰(ぶさた)しました.

Yes and No

  Very Polite Polite Plain Casual
 Yes はあ はい ええ うん
 No  いいえ いえ・いや ううん

Usage Note: Yes is often used to show that you're listening, not agreeing. Also, for example, when you ask, "So I can't go the party", a response verifying this would be, “Yes, you can't go".

1. はい、そうです。
    Yes, that is so.

2. ううん、そうじゃない。
    No, that's not it.

3. いいえ、(たい)したことではありません。
    No, it's not a big deal at all.

4. いや、問題(もんだい)じゃないよ。
    No, it's not a problem at all.

Thank You and You're Welcome

 Respectful Thank you very much  どうもありがとうございます
 Polite Thank you ありがとうございます
 Plain Thank you ありがとう
 Plain Thanks ありがと

When in a rush, どうも suffices. You're welcome is simply どういたしまして. Thank you very much is often "まいおおきに" in many regions of Japan.


There are plenty of ways to apologize in Japanese. After all, it has such a complex honorific system. Perhaps the most polite way to apologize would be 大変申し訳ございません. When you are apologizing to a customer, まこともうわけございません would be perfect.

From there, 申し訳ありません is still very polite. すみません is not as polite, but it is extremely common. すみませんでした is not used as much as it is treating the situation as a past event. To colleagues and what not, ごめんなさい is also appropriate. This gets contracted to ごめん in casual speech.

5. 本当ほんとうにごめんなさい。
    I'm really sorry. 

6. 遅刻ちこくしてすみません。
    I'm sorry for being late.


        Saying 失礼しつれい{します・いたします} when you enter or leave a place is very polite.  When you enter the 玄関 (entryway), you may say お邪魔じゃまします. If you are not greeted by someone, you should say ごめんください. 

The most polite phrase that you could be greeted with is ようこそ{お越し・おいで}くださいました. It's very common to hear よくいらっしゃいました. The casual form of this is よく来たね and is somewhat masculine.

いらっしゃいませ may also be heard, but it is also widely used by merchants welcoming customers. A more casual form of this is いらっしゃい. While you are coming in the door, the owner of the residence may continue to invite you in with どうぞどうぞ. A more casual form of this is さあどうぞ.  

Arriving and Leaving the Home

  Towards a superior when going home, you may say お先に失礼{します・いたします}. お先にします is a broken down variant. The response will be on the lines of お{疲れ・ご苦労}さま. If you say something like では、これで(終わります), the nuance that you're leaving before others go away. 

When entering a home, say ただいま. To be more polite, you may add 帰りました or 戻りました. It is a cultural norm for those at home to respond with お帰り(なさい). When you leave the home, say 行ってきます. Casually, you can say  行ってくる(よ) and 出かけるよ. If you say something like じゃ行くよ, you may sound like you're going on some sort of trip. Saying something like 行くからね (because I'm going), you imply that you want the listener to watch your place. As someone responding to someone leaving, it is standard to say  行ってらっしゃい(ませ)

Receiving Food

   When you are given food or when you are about to partake in a meal, say いただきます. Once you are finished with your meal, say ごちそうさまでした to thank the person that gave the meal. The phrase may be manipulated as usual for more casual settings. 


    Congratulations is おめでとう(ございます)and can be seen in other congratulatory expressions such as the following.

7. 誕生日たんじょうびおめでとうございます。
    Happy birthday! 

8. けましておめでとうございます。
    Happy New Year's.