Saying “Hello” is the first thing to know in order to start a conversation in any language and Japanese language is not an exception. In this article, we’ll learn how to greet a stranger, a coworker or a friend in the Murakami’s language.
As in English, the Japanese language use different expressions depending on the time of day to greet someone, but also depending on the level of politeness. We will try to be as comprehensive and accessible as possible in this short article.
To be as clear as possible in pronunciation and reading of the words that we will approach, we will use this presentation template:
Romaji (ie in Latin characters)
Kanji and Kanas (as it is usually written)
Only kanas (as it would be written by a child of 4 years old)
Here we go for this basic course of Japanese language !
Good morning in Japanese
The expression to use to say “Hello” in Japanese when it is morning (ie between sunrise and noon) is:
Familiar form of Ohayô gozaimasu
There is a familiar form of “Ohayô gozaimasu” which is nothing more than:
This expression can only be used between good friends. So do the effort to add the “gozaimasu” to your “ohayô” when you are speaking with strangers or people to whom you owe respect.
If you have any doubt, use “Ohayô gozaimasu”, because we are never too polite.
Good afternoon in Japanese
The word to use to say “hello” during the afternoon is:
Familiar form of Konnichiwa
Men, when they are talking to male friends, sometimes prefer to use:
Again, if you are in doubt be aware that a “Konnichiwa” can always replace an “Osu”, but an “Osu” will not always replace a “Konnichiwa” depending on the context.
Good evening in Japanese
The word to use to say “Hello” in Japanese after sunset is:
Good night in Japanese
Now it’s late, and you’re on your way to dreamland. You meet someone on your way that seems to go towards his bed too. In that case you can say “Good night” in Japanese like this:
Familiar form of Oyasuminasai
If you believe you a true badass, a fairly respectable guy, feel free to simply use:
As for the previous familiar expressions, use “Oyasuminasai” if you are doubting.
Hello in a nutshell
Say “Hello” politely:
- Good morning: Ohayô gozaimasu
- Good afternoon: Konnichiwa
- Good evening: Konbanwa
- Good night: Oyasuminasai
Say “Hello” to friends:
- Good morning: Ohayô
- Good afternoon: Osu
- Good evening: Konbanwa
- Good night: Oyasumi
Photo under Creative Commons license (CC) made by Héctor García.