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Lesson 4: Basic Expressions and Honorifics

こんいちわ みんあさん. Welcome back to our lessons ^_^ Lets get right to it then shall we?
In this lesson I will show you some basic expressions that you are sure to need, and go over the basic honorifics. Next lesson will deal with particles and sentence structure.


Useful Phrases

The following phrases will come in handy when you practice your speech, and you will be able to recognize them, when they are in use:

1.      おはよう (ございます)[ohayo(gozaimasu)] – Good Morning (gozaimasu added to make it more polite)

2.      こんいちわ [konnichiwa] – Hello, used till about 6 pm.

3.      こんばんわ [konbanwa] – Good Evening.

4.      さようなら [sayonara] – Good-bye. On more formal occasions, use shitsurei shimasu.

5.      おやすみなさい [oyasuminasai] – Good night. Generally said before going to bed.

6.      でわまた/じゃね [dewa mata/ja ne] – So long, bye. Informal and generally used amongst friends or relatives.

7.      ただいます [tadaimasu] ­ I'm back (said upon returning home)

8.      おかえりなさい [okaeri nasai] – Welcome back (response to tadaimasu)

9.      もう いちど ください [mou ichido kudasai] – Can you please repeat that (once more please). This can come in handy when practicing speaking with someone.

10.  (お)げんきですか [(o)genki desuka] – How are you? (lit: Are you well?) The “o” prefix makes it more polite. Also note that the “ka” at the end makes it a question. (Reply: genki desu/genki ja nai for fine/not so fine)

11.  おめでとう ございます [omedetou gozaimasu] – Congratulations

12.  すみません [sumimasen] – Excuse me, I’m sorry

13.  ちょっと まって ください [chotto matte kudasai] – One moment please.

14.  (ども)ありがとう (ございます)[(domo) arigatou (gozaimasu)] – Thank you (add the “domo” and/or “gozaimasu” to make it more polite or to show greater gratitude)

15.  どういたしまして [dou itashimashite] – You are welcome

16.  だめです [dame desu] – Can’t be done, Impossible, Out of the question.

17.  はい [hai] – Yes (less formal – ee)

18.  いいえ [iie] - No

19.  たぶん [tabun] – maybe/perhaps

There are a lot of other phrases that you need of course, and you can find a few others in the FUT that is linked to on the main page of the Japanese lessons here.


You may have noticed that in Japanese people use suffixes like -san, -kun, -chan and so on at the end of someone’s name when addressing them.
This is one of the most often seen questions, and so let us go over them.
At first, we need to know which of these honorifics exist. There are a few, some you are more likely to use then others. The more common ones are  –san, -kun, -chan. Some of the rarer ones are –sama and –dono. You are much less likely to use either of them, but if you’ve been watching anime, doubtless you’ve heard some of them in use already.

Standard Honorifics

-san: Standard honorific. Replaces Mr/Ms/Mrs. Mainly used with the last name of the person. When meeting someone you should use this with their last name when addressing them (when talking to someone you should say ex. "Tanaka-san", and not "you" in most cases)

-kun: Also one of the standard ones. Generaly used by boys, with the last name also, although you will find it used towards some women, in the workplace. When in dobut, go with –san, and always be in dobut.

-chan: Generally used amongst girls, for kids, with close friends, and with family members (siblings). Try to be careful with any honorific other then –san, for improper usage will be embarrassing at best.

Rarer Honorifics

-sama: easiest translated as lord or master. Often used when referring to deities and people of very high standing. Though a show of respect, can be seen as patronizing.

-dono: was mainly used in the military, and is a similar title of high respect. Has fallen partially out of use of late though.

Lets meet a few people who will help us demonstrate the proper usage (names are in the Japanese standard, surname first, given name second.):

Shidou Hikaru: a 14 year old girl in the 8th grade. Easiest to refer to her as "Hikaru-chan"

Souichirou Arima: a boy, 15 years old, in 9th grade. Best way to address him is "Arima-kun" (Souichirou-kun is acceptable also, depending on the situation)

Tanaka Ichirou: A sarariman, your average businessman. He’d be referred to as Tanaka-san

Here is the end of lesson 4. I hope the information here helped you with your studies ^_^

Next lesson is Particles and Sentence structure.

See you then!!!

Ja ne

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