What are some useful Japanese phrases

The most important Japanese words and phrases for everyday life

Your life in Japan begins, you get used to the new environment and develop a new everyday life. You will quickly find out that there are certain words and phrases that you can use constantly Of course, mastering the language will add a lot more depth to your life in Japan, but if you are new to the language, there are some important everyday Japanese phrases you should know.

Here are ours Top 5 most important Japanese phrasesthat will make your daily life easier.

Sumimasen す み ま せ ん

Probably the most widely used Japanese word as it can be used in many different contexts. It means "sorry," but it can also mean "excuse me" or "thank you." It can also be used to attract someone's attention (e.g. in a restaurant to call the waitress).

There are tons of situations in which it is used: when you get off a crowded train, when you ask someone for directions, when you accidentally bump into someone in the supermarket, when you ask someone a favor, when you apologize to someone.

For example:

す み ま せ ん 、 ト イ レ は ど こ で す か?
Sumimasen, toire wa doko desuka?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?

す み ま せ ん 、 降 り ま す!
Sumimasen, orimasu!
Sorry, I'm getting off (the train)!

Note that “sumimasen” is considered a mild excuse and is therefore not used for more serious offenses. For example, don't use this to apologize if you missed an important work deadline - the phrase is too gentle for that.

Daijoubu desu 大丈夫 で す

Daijoubu desu is one of the most versatile and important Japanese phrases for everyday life. Daijoubu means “okay” or “okay”, but it can also be used as “yes” or “no” in the right context.

A common scenario in which this sentence is used is in the supermarket, for example, when the clerk asks you if you have a points card with you. If you don't have one, you can simply say “daijoubu desu” and the salesperson can deduce from the context that it means "no".

Another everyday situation for this sentence is the confirmation of a reservation or an appointment, for example at a restaurant or a doctor. Often you are asked if a certain time fits, to which you answer with “daijoubu desu” if you agree with the suggestion are.

Likewise, you can use “Daijoubu desuka?” As a question to ask a person if they are okay with something. For example, if you have an appointment with someone but you're a little late, you can call or send a message to say:

す み ま せ ん 、10 分 遅 れ ま す。 大丈夫 で す か?
Sumimasen, juppun okuremasu. Daijoubu desuka?
Sorry, I'm 10 minutes late. Is this okay?

You can also use “Daijoubu desuka?” To ask someone if he / she is okay. For example, if you see someone stumble, you can ask: “Daijoubu desuka?”. Conversely, the person who stumbled can say “ Daijoubu desu! ”Answer when everything is in order.

As you can see, there are really a great many ways that this phrase can be used. And you will certainly find and use it again very quickly in your everyday life in Japan.

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu よ ろ し く お 願 い し ま す

“Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is another very versatile expression and therefore has no direct translation. Instead, the meaning may change depending on the situation, but generally refers to gratitude for an action that will take place in the future.

You use this phrase when you meet someone for the first time, when you want to show gratitude to someone, when you ask someone to do something for you, when you order in a restaurant or coffee shop, and so on.

For example when you first get to know each other:
は じ め ま し て, ア ン ナ で す。 よ ろ し く お 願 い い し ま す。
Hajimemashite, Anna desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
My name is Anna and I am pleased to meet you.

At work, you may need to ask someone to do something for you, in which case this phrase expresses your gratitude for it:

田中 さ ん 、 こ の 資料 明日 ま で に コ ー ピ を し て く れ ま す か? よ よ ろ し く お 願 い し ま す。
Tanaka-san, kono shiryou ko-pi o shite kuremasuka? Yoroshiku onegashimasu.
Tanaka-san, can you copy this document for me? Thanks in advance.

In a casual, informal situation, e.g. with friends, you can shorten the phrase. For example, if you ask a classmate if you can borrow her Japanese notebook:

You:
ア ン ナ ち ゃ ん 、 日本語 の ノ ー ト 貸 し て く れ る?
Anna-chan, nihongo no nooto kashite kureru?
Anna-chan, can I borrow your Japanese notebook?

Anna:
い い よ!
iiyo!
Clear!

You:
よ ろ し く!
Yoroshiku!
Thanks!

By the way, you can learn the correct form of address, such as -chan or -san, in this article.

And you can find out all the other rules for this phrase in detail in our guide to “yoroshiku onegaishimasu”.

Onegaishimasu & Kudasai お 願 い し ま す & く だ さ い

Important Japanese sentences would not be complete without these two words because they both mean “please”. For example, when you order in a restaurant or ask someone a favor, you end up saying "kudasai " or "Onegaishimasu".

"Onegaishimasu" is more polite as “kudasai” and sometimes the two are interchangeable, but in certain situations only one of the two will fit.

For example at work it is better to use polite language. So "onegaishimasu" is better when you ask a colleague a favor.

However, an action is usually followed by "kudasai", for example:

ち ょ っ と 待 っ て く だ さ い。
Chotto matte kudasai.
Please wait a moment.

速 く だ さ い。
Hayaku kudasai.
Please hurry up.

Arigatou gozaimasu あ り が と う ご ざ い ま す

If important Japanese sentences cannot do without a “please”, then the “thank you” must not be missing. The usage is very clear even without extensive knowledge of Japanese, and so you can with "Arigatou gozaimasu" at least successfully express your gratitude.

Our example takes us again to the supermarket, where the seller is just handing you your change. Of course you accept it with thanks and therefore say “Arigatou gozaimasu!”.

Another example, this time at school: You ask your teacher a question, he gives you a really helpful answer and you say “Arigatou gozaimasu” to thank you. Usually, the pupils also thank the teacher at the end for the lesson with “Arigatou gozaimashita”, ie in the past tense.

With close acquaintances and friends you can leave out “gozaimasu” and just say “arigatou”. Or you make the phrase even more polite and press "doumo arigatou gozaimasu ど う も あ り が と う ご ざ い ま す”Really deep gratitude. For example, if someone helped you a lot, but you had to cause inconvenience for the person, then you can show how grateful you are for it with “doumo arigatou gozaimasu”.

Similar to “arigatou”, you can only say “doumo” in casual situations.

More than just basics

With these useful words and phrases, you will already have mastered some important Japanese phrases for your everyday life in Japan. Still, we recommend that To learn language properlyif you want to live and work in Japan. The best learning success is achieved through absolute immersion in the Japanese language and society. Here you can find out exactly what immersive learning is and why you should use it to learn Japanese.

Or if you haven't got the chance to come to Japan yet, you can learn the language online with Akamonkai, Tokyo's largest Japanese language school. You can find all details and other offers for online courses here.