挨拶 = あいさつ = aisatsu: How to greet in Japanese

February 5, 2016 in Beginners, conversation, greetings


newaisatsu

「元気?」

= Genki?

= How is it going?

Hi everyone!
First I’d like to tell you all how much I appreciate everyone who has been visiting my site these past 5.5 years.
I started maggiesensei.com in fall in 2009.
To be honest I wasn’t sure anybody would read my lessons so looking back I can now see how those initial lessons could be improved. So this year I would like to redo some of those lessons and supplement them with even more information.

I revised one of my first lessons on this site,  挨拶あいさつ)  ( = aisatsu) .

★When you meet someone

It is not common to shake hands or kiss on the cheeks when greeting people in Japan although they do shake hands on certain occasions. Also we sometimes see people who are supposed to be Japanese on TV or in the movies, greeting each other by putting both hands together palm to palm in front of their chest. Real Japanese never actually great each other that way. That’s just for the movies. Real Japanese people usually bow slightly to each other and smile . That’s called “会釈” = Eshaku.

Basic greetings when you see someone:

!ohisama! in the morning

*おはよう  (= Ohayou ) =   Morning!  (casual)

*おはようございます ( = Ohayou gozaimasu. ) = Good morning!   (formal)

:tulip3: in the afternoon

*こんにちは  ( = Konnichiwa ) = Hello / Good afternoon

:ee: in the evening

*こんばんは ( = Konbanwa)   = Good evening.

*おやすみなさい ( = Oyasumi nasai )  = Good night.

Note:

Though we write こんにちは ( = Konnichiwa)  and こんばんは  ( = Konbanwa ) to our close friends in writing (letter, emails or texting), we don’t usually say こんにちは ( = Konnichiwa)  and こんばんは ( = Konbanwa ) to family or close friends who you usually see all the time.

:w: Other casual greetings.

*ちわっ!( = Chiwá!) Hi! / Hey!  (male speech / casual )  (abbreviation of *こんにちは ( = Konnichiwa)

or ちわっす! ( = Chiwassu!)   (male speech / casual )

*おっす!( = Ossu) /  うっす!( = Ussu) / ういっす(=Uissu)  (male speech / casual / rough ) Yo!

:ee: Other greetings that you may hear:

*どうも ( = doumo)

Ex. あっ、どうも…

= Ah, doumo…

= Oh, hi…

Ex. どうも…

= Doumo…

= Hi.

Note: The literal meaning of どうも ( = doumo)  is “ ”

Ex. どうもすみません ( = Doumo sumimasen) =  I am very sorry.

Ex. どうもありがとう ( = Doumo arigatou ) =  Thank you so much.

But this “どうも ( = doumo)”  doesn’t mean anything.  It is kind of vague greetings and just means “Hello”/”Hi”.

You can say “どうも ( = doumo)” regardless of the time of a day. Though it is not rude and anybody can use it, it’s better to greet people more properly

:rrrr: おはようございます( = Ohayou gozaimasu)  / こんにちは ( = Konnichiwa), こんばんは (= Konbanwa) when you talk to someone in a a superior position.

****
In the business scene or in some formal situations, you will hear

Ex. いつもお世話になっています。

= Itsumo osewa ni natte imasu.

(more formal)

:u:

Ex. いつもお世話になっております。(formal)

= Itsumo osewa ni natte orimasu.

(Please see my お世話になります ( = Osewa ni narimasu) lesson.

There is no equivalent phrase in English, and it changes depending on the scene but basically this phrase shows your appreciation to the listener.

:rrrr: Thank you for your continued support. (in business situation)

Thank you for always taking care of me / our family

****

When you meet someone for the first time:

* はじめまして  ( = Hajimemashite) Nice to meet you.
and introduce yourself.  

(See my 自己紹介 ( = jikoshoukai) self introduction lesson.)

Ex. はじめまして。よろしくお願いします。

= Hajimemashite. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.

= Nice to meet you.

Note: Now, many of you knowよろしくお願いします ( = yoroshiku onegai shimasu) is a special expression that you say to people you are going to associate with.
It has a connotation of showing your appreciation in advance for treating you well or for doing something for you and also asking for a favor to take care of you.
Sometimes it implies “I may cause any trouble that I may cause.” If you say “Thank you in advance” in English, it may sounds a bit arrogant but よろしくお願いします ( = yoroshiku onegai shimasu) itself is a very humble and polite expression.

Variations:

Ex.どうぞよろしくお願い致します。(polite)

= Douzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.

Ex. よろしく (casual)

= Yoroshiku

You also say

Ex. これからお世話になります。

= Kore kara osewa ni narimasu.

=  Thank you in advance for taking care of me hereafter.

☆How to answer:

Ex. こちらこそ(よろしくお願いします。)

= Kochira koso ( yoroshiku onegai shimasu.)

= It’s nice to meet you,too/ Likewise/ The pleasure is mine. / Same here.

****
★Ask how the listener is.

Ex.お元気ですか?

= Ogenki desu ka?

= How are you?

Ex. 元気? (casual)

= Genki?

= How are you doing?

Ex. どう、元気にしてる?(casual)

= Dou, genki ni shiteru?

= Hey, how are you doing?

****
Ex. 調子は、どうですか?

= Choushi wa, dou desu ka?

= How are you?/ How’s everything? (How are things in general?)

Ex. 調子、どう?(casual)

= Choushi, dou?

= How are you? / How’s everything? (How are things in general?)

You can reverse the order.

Ex. どう、調子は。 (casual)

= Dou, choushi wa.

= How’s everything?

Note: Check my 調子 (=choushi) lesson.

****

★Ask about their family

Ex.皆さん、お元気ですか?

= Minasan, ogenki desu ka?

= How is everybody?

Ex.皆様、お元気でいらっしゃいますか?(polite)

= Minasama, ogenki de irasshai masu ka?

= How is everybody?

Ex.みんな、元気? (casual)

= Minna, genki?

= How’s everybody?

***

Ex. 奥さんはお元気ですか?

= Okusan wa ogenki desu ka?

= How is your wife?

Ex.奥様はお元気でいらっしゃいますか?(formal)

= Okusama wa ogenki de irasshai masu ka?

= How is your wife?

Ex.奥さん、元気? (casual)

= Okusan, genki?

= How is your wife?

*****
★When you see someone who you haven’t seen  for a long time.

Ex.お久しぶりです。

= Ohisashiburi desu.

= Long time no see!

Ex. ご無沙汰しております。(formal)

= Gobusata shiteorimasu.

= It has been a long time.

Ex. 久しぶり!(casual)

= Hisashiburi!

= Long time no see!

☆How to you answer:

You can repeat what they say.

Ex. 本当にお久しぶりですね。

=Hontou ni ohisashiburi desune.

= Yes, really… It has been a long time.

Ex. どのぐらいぶりでしょうか?

= Donogurai buri deshouka?

= I wonder how long it has been (since we last saw each other).

Ex. どのぐらい会っていないかなあ。(casual)

= Donogurai atte inai kanaa.

= I wonder how long we haven’t see each other…

****

★Ask how the listener has been.

Ex.お元気でしたか?

= Ogenki deshita ka?

= How have you been?

Ex. 元気だった?(casual)

= Genki datta?

= How have you been?

Ex.元気にしてた?(casual)

= Genki ni shiteta?

= How have you been?

Ex. 元気にやってる? (casual)

= Genki ni yatteru?

= How are you doing?

Ex. どうしてた?(casual)

= Doushiteta?

= How have you been?

*****
☆How to answer:

Ex. はい、お陰さまで元気にやっております。(formal)

= Hai, okage sama de genki ni yatte orimasu.

= Yes, I’m good. Thank you.

Note: the literal meaning of お陰さまで ( = okage sama de) is “Thanks to you (or all the helps that I got.)”

Ex. はい、お陰さまで

= Hai, okage sama de

= Yes. (I’m good) Thank you.

Ex. うん、元気。(Name) は? (casual)

= Un, genki. (Name) wa?

= Yeah, I’m good. How about you?

Ex. 元気!元気!!(Name) は?

= Genki! Genki!! (Name) wa?

= I’m great. How about you (name)?

Ex. そっちは? (casual)

= Socchi wa?

= How about yourself?

Note: そっち ( = socchi) means “there”.

You should avoid using this with someone superior.

Ex. はい、なんとかやっています。

= Hai, nantoka yatte imasu.

= Yes, I’m getting by.

Ex. はい、なんとかやっております。(formal)

= Hai, nantoka yatte orimasu.

= Yes, I’m getting by.

Ex. うん、なんとか(やってる)(casual)

= Un, nantoka (yatteru)

=  Yeah, I‘m getting by.

Ex. まあまあです。

= Maamaa desu.

= So-so.

Ex. まあまあかな。(casual)

= Mamaa kana.

= So-so, I guess.

Ex. まあまあってとこかな。(casual)

= Maamaa tte toko kana.

So-so, I guess.

Ex. まあね。

= Maane.

= Well…(I’m getting by) / So-so.

Ex. ぼちぼちです。(a sort of humble way to say “Not bad”. Org. Osaka area.)

= Bochibochi desu.

= Can’t complain.

*****
★Asking about their latest news.

:rrrr: Typical pattern:

* ~はどうですか?

= ~ wa dou desuka?

= How is ~ ?

* ~はいかが(如何)ですか?  (polite)

= ~ wa ikaga desu ka?

= How is ~

* 〜(の方)はどう?  (casual)

= ~ (no hou ) wa dou?

= How’s ~ ?

Ex. 新婚生活はどう? (casual)

= Shinkon seikatsu wa dou?

= How is your newly wed life?

Ex. 体調はどうですか?

= Taichou wa dou desu ka?

= (Lit.) How’s your physical condition

= How are you?

Note: 体調 ( = taichou)  means physical condition
You can also say 体の調子 ( = Karada no choushi.)

If the listener was sick,

Ex. お体の方はもう大丈夫ですか? (polite)

= Okarada no hou wa mou daijyoubu desu ka?

=  Are you feeling all right now?

Ex. 体調はもう大丈夫? (casual)

= Taichou wa mou daijyoubu?

= Are you feeling all right now?

Ex. 新しい家は如何ですか?

= Atarashii ie wa ikaga desuka?

= How is your new house?

Ex. お仕事は方はどうですか?

= Oshigoto no hou wa dou desuka?

= How’s your work?

Ex. 仕事はどう? (casual)

= Shigoto wa dou?

= How’s your work?

Ex. 仕事はうまくいってる?  (casual)

= Shigoto wa umaku itteru?

= Are you doing OK at work?

Ex. お子さんは大きくなりましたか?

= Okosan wa ookiku narimashitaka?

= Has your chid grown bigger?

Ex. 彼とは仲良くやってる?  (casual)

= Kare tow a nakayoku yatteru?

= Are you getting along with him (your boyfriend)?

***
☆How to answer:

Again, if you don’t want to talk much you can just say

Ex. はい、お陰様で。

= Hai, okage sama de.

= Yes, thanks to you (thanks to everything / everyone)

Ex. うん、うまくいってるよ。(casual)

= Un, umaku itteruyo.

= Yeah, it is going well.

Ex. はい、なんとか。

= Hai, nantoka.

= Yes, I am getting by.

****
If you have had some trouble but you don’t want to talk about it so much.
The following simply hint that you’ve had some trouble.

Ex. いろいろ大変です。

= Iroiro taihen desu.

= I have had some troubles.

= Things are not so easy.

Ex. いろいろあってね(casual)

= Iroiro attene.

= So many things have happened.

= It’s a long story.

***
★Talk about the weather:

Talking about the weather helps the conversation go smoother.

Usually your communication goes smoother when you have the common topics.
After saying hello, you can mention the weather.

Ex. いいお天気ですね。

= Ii otenki desu ne.

= Nice weather we’re having.

Ex. いい天気だね。(casual)

= Ii tenki dane.

= Nice weather we’re having.

Ex. 気持ちのいいお天気ですね。

= Kimochi no ii otenki desu ne.

= The weather is pleasant, isn’t it?

Ex. よく降りますね。

= Yoku furimasu ne.

= It rains (snows) a lot, isn’t it?

Ex. よく降るね。(casual)

= Yoku furune.

= It rains (snows) a lot, doesn’t it?

Ex. お天気が悪くて困りますね。

= Otenki ga warukute komarimasu ne.

= It is annoying weather, isn’t it?

Ex. 暑いですね。

= Atsui desune.

= It’s hot isn’t it?

Ex. 暑いね。(casual)

= Atsui ne.

= It’s hot isn’t it?

Ex. 暑い日が続きますね。

= Atsui hi ga tsuzukimasu ne.

= It has been hot, hasn’t it?

Ex. 蒸し暑いですね。

= Mushiatsui desune.

= It is very hot and humid, isn’t it?

Ex.蒸しますね。

= Mushimasu ne.

= It has been humid.

Ex. 寒いですね。

= Samui desune.

= It’s cold, isn’t it?

Ex. 冷えますね。

= Hiemasu ne.

= It’s cold, isn’t it?

Note: So you just say hello and mention the weather as a greeting.

Ex. こんにちは、暑いですね。

= Konnichiwa, atsui desune.

= Hello, it’s hot, isn’t it?

☆How to answer:

Ex. 本当ですね。

= Hontou desune.

= It is. / You are right.

or repeat what they say.

Ex. 本当に暑いですね。

= Hontou ni atsui desune.

= You are right. It is really hot.

***
★Say thank you if that person has done something for you.
It is polite to mention it after saying hello.

Ex. こんにちは!先日はありがとうございました。

= Konnichiwa! Senjitsu wa arigatou gozaimashita.

= Hello, thank you for the other day.

Ex. この間は、お世話になりました。

= Konoaida wa, osewa ni narimashita.

= Thank you for the other day. (Thank you for all your work)

Ex.先日は、息子がお世話になりました。

= Senjitsu wa, musuko ga osewa ni narimashita.

= Thank you for taking care of my son the other day.

Ex. おはよう!昨日はありがとう!(casual)

= Ohayou! Kinou wa arigatou!

= Good morning! Thank you for yesterday.

****
★How to say good bye

I know most of you know or have learned  “good-bye” in Japanese is

Ex. さようなら ( = sayounara)

Ex. さよなら ( = sayonara) a little more casual

You say さようなら ( = sayounara) at school (teachers and students) and in “some” daily conversations.

However, if you live in Japan, you may notice that you don’t hear people saying さようなら ( = sayounara) so often.

Part of the reason is that the word さようなら( = sayounara) / さよなら( = sayonara) sounds like you don’t see that person anymore. It may be similar to “Farewell” in English. It sounds very formal or distant.  That is why you hear the word often in a break-up songs in Japan.

Instead, you hear…

Ex. それでは、また明日。

= Soredewa, mata ashita.

= I’ll see you tomorrow.

Ex. それでは、また来週。

= Soredewa, mata raishuu.

= I’ll see you next week.

If you don’t know when you are going to see that person next.

Ex. それでは、また

= Soredewa, mata

= I’ll see you then.

Ex. それじゃ、また (more casual)

= Soreja, mata

= I’ll see you then.

Ex. それじゃあね。(casual)

= Sorejaa ne.

= See you!

Ex. では、また

= Dewa, mata

= See you.

Ex. じゃあ、また (casual)

= Jaa, mata.

= See you!

Ex. じゃあね。(casual)

= Jaane.

= See ya.

Ex. またね (casual)

= Matane.

= See ya.

Ex. バイバイ (casual)

 = Baibai

= Bye!

Ex. また明日!(casual)

= Mata ashita!

= See you tomorrow!

Ex. それではお気をつけて

= Soredewa oki wo tsukete.

= Please take care, then.

Ex. じゃあ、気をつけて。

= Jaa, ki wo tsukete.

= OK, take care!

Ex. じゃあ、気をつけてね。

= Jaa, ki wo tsuketene.

= OK, take care!

*****
★At work place:

If you leave earlier than other people.

Ex. お先に失礼します。

= Osaki ni shitsuresi shimasu.

= Allow me to leave earlier than you./ I am sorry that I am leaving earlier.

= I’d better be going now.

(shorter version)

Ex. お先に

= Osakini.

= See you./  I’m off.

Ex. お先! (casual)

= Osaki!

= See ya’ ? I’m off.

Ex. それでは、失礼します。

= Soredewa, shitsurei shimasu.

= Excuse me. I’d better be going now.

To a person who say お先に ( = osakini) or leaves earlier than you.

Ex. お疲れ様でした。

= Otsukare sama deshita.

= (literal meaning) Thank you for your hard work.

= Good work today.

Ex. お疲れ様

= Otsukare sama

= Good work today. / See you.

Ex. お疲れ!

= Otsukare!

= Bye!

****
★At home/ at work

When you leave the house or workplace

Ex. 行ってきます。

= Itte kimasu.

= I’m off.

(It implies you are leaving but you will be back later.)

You see them off saying

Ex. 行ってらっしゃい

= Itterasshai.

= (Literal meaning is Please go.)

= See you later. (Have a nice day)

(You expect the person will be back.)

Note:

1) You can say 行ってらっしゃい (= Itterasshai) when you see your neighbor (who you know)  is going somewhere.

A nosy neighbor may ask you,

Ex. どちらまで?

= Dochira made?

= Where to?

If you don’t want to give any specifics, you can say

Ex. ちょっとそこまで…

= Chotto soko made.

= Just around “there”.

When you are back:

Ex. ただいま帰りました。 (formal)

= Tadaima kaerimashita

= I am back.

Ex. ただいま

= Tadaima

= I am back.

*When someone comes back home or to a workplace.

Ex. お帰りなさい

= Okaerinasai.

= Welcome back.

★Before weekend / holidays

Ex. よい週末を過ごして下さい。

= Yoi shuumastsu wo sugoshite kudasai.

= Please have a nice weekend.

Ex. よい/いい週末を

= Yoi/ ii shuumatsu wo

= Have a nice weekend.

Ex. じゃあ、いい週末を

= Jaa, ii shuumatsu wo

= Have a nice weekend.

Ex. それでは楽しい夏休みをお過ごし下さい。

= Soredewa tanoshii natsuyasumi wo osugoshi kudasai.

= Please have a fun summer vacation.

Ex. それでは楽しい夏休みを

= Soredewa tanoshii natsuyasumi wo

= Have a fun summer vacation.

Note: These phrases are more common in writing (letters, texting, twitter message.etc.)

If you know someone is going to go somewhere or has some fun plans, you can say

Ex.じゃあ、夏休み、楽しんで。

= Jaa, natsuyasumi, tanoshinde.

= OK, have fun over summer vacation, all right?

Ex.じゃあ、旅行、楽しんできて。

= Jaa, ryokou, anoshinde kite.

= OK, then have a nice trip.

Ex.じゃあ、気をつけて行ってきて。

= Jaa, ki wo tsukete itte kite.

= Have a safe trip, OK?

★Say hello to ~

Ex. 御主人によろしくお伝え下さい。

= Goshujin  ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai.

= Please say hello to your husband

Ex. 尚人君によろしく。

= Naoto kun ni yoroshiku.

= Say hello to Naoto.

*****
maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

でも私の一番正式な挨拶は人の顔を舐めることです。

= Demo watashi no ichiban seishikina aisatsu wa hito no kao wo nameru koto desu.

= But my most formal greeting is to lick people’s face.