Image header
navigation menu
Japanese is Possible!
Week 29

Part 29

  • Real Life Usage
  • Anatomy of a Sentence
  • New Words

Real Life Usage

How to say "Hello"

Just as in English, there are many ways in Japanese in which one can say hello.
Just think of how many different ways it is possible to say "hello" in English.
So we'll be looking at a few greetings in Japanese for saying hello and goodbye,
along with some other common phrases.

Here are some ways to say 'Hello':

#1 - ohayou gozaimasu.
Proper greeting for "good morning." Literally, this means "It's early" but it
has taken on the usage for morning-time greetings. This is safe to use until
around 11 AM, possibly a little later.
Two ways of pronouncing this would be with an extension in the last "ma" sound,
like ohayou gozaiMAsu, or with an extension of the last "su" sound to emphasize it,
like ohayou gozaimaSU.
This is often shortened in less formal relationships, like between friends or
family members, to:
For pronunciation, the last sound can be drawn out, like ohayo-- or cut off
short, like ohayo!

#2 - konnichi wa
This is your proper, basic, "hello" or "good day," and can be used morning,
afternoon, or evening. Literally meaning "(As for) Today," this is your best bet
for saying "hello" to someone in person.

#3 - ossu
(or uissu, pronounced like "wi")
This is an expression for males, especially teenagers, for saying "hey" or
"what's up?" It is rather old now, it is sometimes still used, as in
"O--su! Hisashiburi da na!".
Some claim it came from saying ‚"ohayou gozaimasu" really fast, thus ending up with just
the beginning and end as o--ssu. It is best to stick with "konnichi wa" unless someone says
"ossu" to you first. However, females would most likely respond to "ossu" with a
"konnichi wa".

A note on saying hello:
Using these expressions to say hello is a normal part of using Japanese. The
thing to remember is that these are used to say hello only the _first_ time you
see someone on a given day. Seeing someone again the same day and saying
"konnichi wa" again is rather strange.
It is best to go with a head nod and a smile as you pass by, or, if you start a
conversation, start with an "ou" which means "hey" (or "yeah/yes" as an
answer to a question) or just skip the formalities and start talking.

Written by Brian Dunn

Anatomy of a Sentence

mise no mae no ueki ga jama de, mukou he ikenai yo!

mise no mae = store (of) front
mae means "before" or "in front of".
mise no mae would translate "in front of the store"

in front of the store [no ueki] = " 's bushes"

The whole phrase "in front of the store" modifies bushes. The "no" particle is again used.
It is always used to show possession, or to modify something.

So far, we have "IN FRONT OF THE STORE's bushes"

In front of the store's bushes [ga jama de] = "(subject marker) obstacle is, and"
ga = subject marker
de = a shorter form of desu (is), used as a conjunction (another sentence must follow)
It's almost used like "and". If you want to get technical, it's the -te form of desu (in the "plain
form", of course)

So far, we have "In front of the store's bushes are an obstacle, and"

[mukou he ikenai yo] = "over there (toward) can't go (exclamation)"
mukou = over there
he = particle meaning "to" or "toward"
ikenai = -nai form of iku (to go)
yo = particle that acts like an exclamation point

So in conclusion, we have

In front of the store's bushes are an obstacle, and you can't go over there!

If you want to clean it up, you can. This is where different translators come
up with different sentences!

Possiblity #1 - You can't go over there, because in front of the store
there are tons of bushes blocking your way!

Possiblity #2 - See that store down there? There are a bunch of
bushes in front of it that prevent you fron passing!

Possiblity #3 - If it weren't for the shrubbery in front of that store, you
could go over there!

Possiblity #4 - The shrubbery in front of that store prevents your
passage to that area over there!

As you can see, all 4 sentences convey the meaning from the original
Japanese sentence. However, you can see that some sentences convey
it better than others. Translating almost ALWAYS adds little
changes here and there, that slightly bend the meaning. The
aim of a translator is to bend that meaning as little as possible.
The more you make the sentence sound like good English,
the more you have to bend the meaning.

New Words


gaki - brat
jama - interruption, obstacle
dougu - tool
kabe - wall
tobira - door
nakimono - scroll
moyou - pattern, design


shitsukoi - stubborn
hissatsu - sure kill (move, etc)
mezurashii - unusual
oshii - disappointing


shimaru - to be shut
tazuneru - to ask
ataru - to succeed
saisho - beginning


nanchatte - "I made a funny!", "just kidding"
maa ii ka - "Oh well"
shouganai ne - "It can't be helped"

Anatomy of a Sentence and New Words written by Matt McDevitt

Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Image header