32 of The Most Important Basic Phrases in Japanese
Looking for THE most important basic phrases in Japanese? Do you want to know the top phrases to help you get by in Japan?
Or maybe you’re looking for the most important basic phrases in Japanese to kick-start your Japanese learning journey.
Either way, look no further.
This short, basic and super simple guide will give you those all-important essential basic phrases in Japanese that you’ll need to get by.
Basic Phrases in Japanese – The Complete List
Basic Phrases in Japanese – Yes and No
Basic Phrases in Japanese – Greetings
Basic Phrases in Japanese – Politeness
Basic Phrases in Japanese – Other Essential Phrases
Basic Phrases in Japanese – Questions
BONUS – FREE Quiz
Basic Phrases in Japanese – FAQ’s
List of Most Basic Phrases in Japanese
Here is our complete list of the most basic phrases in Japanese:
- Hai はい – Yes
- Iie いいえ – No
- Konnichiwa こんにちは – Hello
- Ohayo (gozaimasu) おはよう（ございます）- Morning (politer)
- Konbanwa こんばんは – Good evening
- Oyasumi (nasai) おやすみ（なさい）- Good night (politer)
- Sayonara さよなら – Goodbye
- Arigatou (gozaimasu) ありがとう（ございます）- Thanks (politer)
- Onegaishimasu おねがいします – Please
- Sumimasen すみません – Excuse me
- Gomennasai ごめんなさい – Sorry
- Watashiwa X desu わたしは X です – I am called X
- Daijyoubu だいじょうぶ – It’s OK, I’m fine
- Wo Kudasai X をください – X please
- Soudesuka? / Soudesu そうですか・そうです – Is that so? Yes, it’s like that…
- Samui さむい – It’s cold!
- Atsui あつい – It’s hot
- Suki/sukijyanai すき・すきじゃない – I like it / I don’t like it
- Mouyikkai もういっかい – Once again
- Wakarimasen わかりません – I don’t understand
- Kanppai かんぱい – Cheers!
- ~wa Dokodesuka? 〜は どこですか – Where is the ~
- ~e ikitaidesu 〜へ いきたいです – I want to go to the ~
- Ikuradesuka? いくらですか – How much is it?
- WiFi arimasuka? WiFiありますか – Do you have wifi?
- Genkidesuka? / Genkidesu げんきですか？/ げんきです – Are you OK? / I’m OK
- Dokodesuka? どこですか – Where is…
- (Kore) nandesuka?（これ）なんですか – What is this?
- Daredesuka? だれですか – Who are you, who is that?
- Itsudesuka? いつですか – When?
- Doushite? どうして – Why?
Basic Phrases in Japanese: Yes and No
Two of the most important things to say in any language is of course yes and no.
Hai はい – Yes
Iie いいえ – No
Saying yes and no in Japanese is simple.
Hai is yes, iie is no.
There are less polite ways to say both of these, including ‘un’ and ‘uun’ (yes/no respectively) but it’s best to stay polite until you get a better grasp of using honorific and casual speech.
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How to Learn Katakana? | Katakana is one of Japanese’s three alphabets. Katakana are generally more angular looking than Hiragana and focuses on loanwords.
Basic Phrases in Japanese: Greetings
Now that we’ve got yes and no out the way, let’s move onto basic phrases that include greetings.
You probably already know hello (konnichiwa: こんにちは) but why not take it one step further?
Konnichiwa こんにちは – Hello
Konbanwa こんばんは – Hello (evening)
Ohayo (gozaimasu) おはよう（ございます）- Morning (politer)
Oyasumi (nasai) おやすみ（なさい）- Good night (politer)
Sayonara さよなら – Goodbye
For basic greetings in Japanese, it’s important to note the time of day.
Konnichiwa literally means ‘this day’ and konbanwa literally means ‘this evening’.
To make a phrase sound more polite, you can add the politeness endings such as gozaimasu – but this can be a bit of a mouthful.
If you’re a beginner, you can get away with simply saying the first part of the word.
Basic Phrases in Japanese: Politeness
Politeness is important in Japanese!
Most people who have any knowledge of Japanese culture should already know that Japan is a very polite country, so learning how to say please and thank you are vitally important basic phrases in Japanese.
Arigatou (gozaimasu) ありがとう（ございます）- Thanks (politer)
Onegaishimasu おねがいします – Please
Sumimasen すみません – Excuse me
Gomennasai ごめんなさい – Sorry
Bumping through a crowd you might want to shout ‘sumimasen!’
Also to get attention at a restaurant.
Please and thank yous are said a lot, but thank you much much more. So make sure to get ‘arigatou’ down!
Basic Phrases in Japanese: Other Essential Phrases
Next up we have some key basic phrases in Japanese to get you through the day, these are some of the most common phrases we’d use in Japanese!
Simple, yet effective in making your Japanese sound pretty decent at a beginner’s level.
Watashiwa X desu わたしは X です – I am called X
Daijyoubu だいじょうぶ – It’s OK, I’m fine
Wo Kudasai X をください – X please
Samui さむい – It’s cold!
Atsui あつい – It’s hot
Suki/sukijyanai すき・すきじゃない – I like it/I don’t like it
Mouyikkai もういっかい – Once again
Wakarimasen わかりません – I don’t understand
Kanppai かんぱい – Cheers!
Wo kudasai can be used when you’re pointing at something in a shop and asking for it.
Samui and Astui can be used when you’re strolling the parks of Kyoto in the winter or summer
Lastly you’ll hear kanppai a lot at your local izakaya (Japanese pub)!
It sounds similar to the Chinese version that is ganbei 干杯 and also looks similar in characters also 乾杯 (note the 2nd character is the same as the Chinese equivalent).
Basic Phrases in Japanese: Questions
Lastly we have the all important questions in Japanese!
You might fear getting an answer in complicated Japanese… but that’s just all the more motivation you need to keep on learning Japanese!
It’s always worth a try, you may even end up understanding more than you think and surprising yourself!
First up let’s look at Japanese question words:
Dokodesuka? どこですか – Where is…
(Kore) nandesuka?（これ）なんですか – What is this?
Daredesuka? だれですか – Who are you, who is that?
Itsudesuka? いつですか – When?
Doushite? どうして – Why?
One important thing to note is that everything is pretty much backwards in Japanese grammar.
So when in English you place a question word or phrase at the start of a sentence, it goes at the end in Japanese. So if you’re looking for the train station, you’d ask;
“Eki wa doko desuka?” えきはどこですか？
Eki = Train station
Wa = (Topic particle marker)
Doko = Where
Desu = Is
Ka = ?
So now we’ve had a look at the question words, let’s have a look at a few more useful question phrases that use them:
~wa Dokodesuka? 〜は どこですか – Where is the ~
~e ikitaidesu 〜へ いきたいです – I want to go to the ~
Ikuradesuka? いくらですか – How much is it?
WiFi arimasuka? WiFiありますか – Do you have wifi?
Soudesuka? / Soudesu そうですか・そうです – Is that so? Yes, it’s like that…
Genkidesuka? / Genkidesu げんきですか？/ げんきです – Are you OK? / I’m OK
So that’s it for the most important basic phrases in Japanese!
Whilst these are just beginner phrases in Japanese, they’re used a lot of the time in day to day chat as you can imagine.
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How to Learn Hiragana? It might seem difficult but Hiragana can be understood within a few hours. Follow these tips for success and start reading Hiragana.
If you fancy getting to know some beginner phrases in Mandarin as well, why not check out our basic phrases in Mandarin here.
BONUS FREEBIE // Quiz
Now you’ve learnt the most basic phrases in Japanese, how many can you remember.
Have a try with our 20 question quick fire quiz and see how many you remembered.
Questions are all multiple choice and the answers are instant. What are you waiting for!
Basic Phrases in Japanese – FAQs
What is hello in Japanese?
Hello in Japanese is konnichiwa こんにちは
What is thanks in Japanese?
Thanks in Japanese is arigatou ありがとう
If you want to make it even more polite then you can add (gozaimasu ございます）at the end to make the entire phrase arigatou (gozaimasu); ありがとう（ございます).
What is please in Japanese?
Please in Japanese is onegaishimasu おねがいします .
What is goodbye in Japanese?
Goodbye in Japanese is sayonara さよなら .
What is yes in Japanese?
Yes in Japanese is hai はい
What is no in Japanese?
No in Japanese is iie いいえ
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