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Useful Phrases

I made this page to help people with their Japanese who don’t have the money for a phrase book or who want a good, condensed version of useful phrases. These are the only ones I can come up with at the moment (if you have other suggestions, tell me about them.) And of course, there are other ways of saying these, depending on speech patterns and formality and the like. I’ll mark most of these if you need to know they’re "polite" or "rude" or "slang", or whatever. I will also break up the phrases so you can see how the words go together to make the phrase. (If you remember a few model phrases and what each word means, you can form your own phrases by substituting words you need.)

I have arranged these into categories, not alphabetically. These are English~Japanese only. I have included a pronunciation guide at the end…and I have an advanced pronunciation guide here. Okay? Okay. ^_^



Greetings/Salutations/Goodbyes/Social Graces

Yes - Hai (polite, sort of "yes, sir!"), Ee (polite), Un, Sou (+desu to be polite).

No - Iie (polite), Iya (this can also mean "hate"). Uun (very hard to tell apart from "Un" ^^; . Though the Japanese avoid saying flat out "no"s a lot. If someone asks you "do you like sushi?" instead of saying just plain "no", you might want to say "amari suki ja nai" ("I don’t like it very much")

Nice to meet you (for the first time) - Hajimemashite

Hello (good afternoon) - Kon’nichi wa

Hi - Yo~

‘Ssup! - Osu!

Good morning - Ohayoo (add "~gozaimasu" at the end to be polite)

Good evening - Konban wa

How are you? - Genki? (add "~desu ka?" at the end to be polite)

Thank you - Arigato (add "~gozaimasu" at the end to be polite)

You’re welcome - Doo itashimashite (accepting their thanks) or Iie (saying what you did was no problem/your pleasure)

Please… - …onegaishimasu

Please (give me)… - …kudasai


Retail Phrases (use these at your own risk, since they may answer back in Japanese in a lonnnnnnng, complicated sentence. If that happens, smile bashfully and say, "gomen nasai, wakarimasen.")

Hello / Welcome– "Irasshai mase". This is a universal phrase used by store clerks to welcome customers to the store. It also implies, "I'm ready to serve you" or "may I help you?" (DON'T say this when welcoming people to your house, though… unless you're a brothel or something ^_-)

What are you looking for?- "Nanika, o-sagashi desu ka?" (note that you'll probably be able to understand simple answers here, since most western clothes keep their original names in Japanese. "pantsu", "suutsu", "shaatsu", etc.)

What's your size? - "O-saizu wa?" (HOWEVER, note that Japanese sizes aren't necessarily the same)

I'll take this one - "Kore o kudasai/ Kono __ ni shimasu" ("__" is the article of clothing)

Good, bad, OK - Just use "okay" (for okay), and "dame" (for not okay)

That looks good on you - "Totemo niattemasu"

It doesn't fit - "Saizu ga attenai"

Have a wonderful day/night, weekend, trip/stay - Store clerks don't embellish, really… They ALWAYS say "arigatou gozaimashita" as you leave the store.

Short Basic Phrases

I can’t… - … wa dame. This is good for stuff like "I can’t speak Japanese" (Nihongo wa dame), or "I don’t like/can’t eat raw fish" (Sashimi wa dame) or "I can’t use my foot (it’s in bad shape/ it hurts)" (Ashi wa dame). Even "I can’t come tomorrow" (Ashita wa dame). A good , simple translation of "dame" is "bad" or "no good".

I want to do… - … shitai "I want to go on a drive" = "doraibu shitai". "I want to play (do) tennis" = "tenisu shitai".

I don’t want to… - …yaritakunai/shitakunai (add "desu" at the end to be polite). Though I HOPE you won’t be using this phrase that much…remember: you ALWAYS want to do whatever they invite you to do ^_-. But just in case, there it is. ^-^

I want to go - Ikitai
I want to see - Mitai
I want to eat - Tabetai
I want to sleep - Netai
I want to wake up - Okitai

*To change "I want to…" to "I don’t want to…", change the "tai" to "takunai".

I like… - …ga suki (desu) "I like Japan" = "Nihon ga suki". "I like strawberries" = "Ichigo ga suki". "I like anime" = "Anime ga suki"… pretty straightforward, and pretty useful.

I dislike… - …ga kirai (desu) Use this the same was as with "~ga suki", but I suggest you use the "I don’t like…" one below as it is more polite and less offensive…

I don’t like… - …ga (amari) suki ja nai (desu) Just say "I like…" then add "ja nai" at the end to make it "don’t". "I don’t like studying" = "benkyoo ga suki ja nai". The "amari" means "not really". So if you want to say "I don’t really care for movies", that would be "eiga ga amari suki ja nai".

It’s like… - …mitai. "That looks like/reminds me of America!" = "America mitai!". "It’s like Sailormoon" = "Sailormoon mitai". "You look like a princess" = "Ohime-sama mitai".

How (do you do that)? - Doo yatte (sore o suru)?" "How do you make it?" = "Doo yatte tsukuru?". "How do you eat it?" = "Doo yatte taberu?"

These are your pretty basic level things. If you were to take Japanese in high school, you would learn all these grammar rules the first year…

Classic Phrases (some of these, use at your own risk ^_-)

Where’s the bathroom? - "Toire wa doko (desu ka)?"
I’m practically wetting my pants… - "Moresoo…"
I am a stupid foreigner - "Watashi wa baka na gaijin (desu)"
Gimme some REAL food, dammit! - "HONMONO no tabemono kure yo~ ‘ttaku!"
I don’t speak Japanese - "Nihongo ga dekinai (desu)"
No, really… - "Iya, honto (desu yo)."
Please speak in Japanese - "Nihongo de hanashite kudasai"
Please speak in English - "Eigo de hanashite kudasai"
Go away - "Deteike!"
Leave me alone - "Hottoite yo."
Please leave me alone - "Hottoite kudasai"
(Please) Don’t disturb/bother me - "Jama shinai de (kudasai)"
I wanna go home! - "Uchi ni kaeritai!"
I’m hungry - "Onaka suita" (or "Hara hetta" for slang ^_-. This literally means "my stomach is empty")
All the Japanese I know I learned off Tetris no Miko’s webpage - "Watashi no dekiru nihongo wa zenbu Tetorisu no Miko no uebbu peeji kara mananda."
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. - "Yo. Ore no na wa Inigo Montoya. Kisama wa chichi o koroshita. Shinu kakugo shiro."
Anime guys are so hot - "Anime no otoko wa choo kakkoii"
I’m lost - "Maigo ni natta."
Help me! - "Tasukete kudasai!"
I need to call my host family - "Hosuto famirii ni denwa shinakya"
I’m ditching the after-school club today. - "Kyoo wa bukatsu saboru kara."
I don’t wanna go to school. - "Gakkoo e ikitakunai"
This is boring. - "Tsumannai."
How long is your penis? (in cm) - "Ochinchin wa nan senchi?" (I put this in for you, Angela >v<)
I’m on a diet - "Daietto chuu nan desu"
I can’t eat this much… - "Konna ni takusan taberu no wa chotto…"
I can’t eat anymore - "Onaka ippai"
Hands off my breasts! - "Mune o sawaru na!" (I also put this in for you, Angela ^_-)
I can see your undies - "Pantsu mieteru zo".
Hi, is T.M.Revolution’s new single in yet? - "Sumimasen, T.M.Revolution no shinkyoku wa mada desu ka?"
Stop staring at me!! - "Jirojiro minai de yo!!"
Okay, who farted? - "Naa, onara shita yatsu wa dare daaa??"
Take me to your leader - "Kashira ni tsureteitte kudasai"
Seek. Locate. Exterminate. - "Sagashite. Mitsukete. Massatsu shite"
Japanese Anime is much better than American cartoons. - "Nihon no anime wa America no anime yori motto omoshiroi no da."
No, I am NOT a model. - "Iie, HONTO ni moderu ja nain dakara"
This is my real hair - "Jige da yo."
I don’t understand what you’re saying. I don’t even understand what I’M saying. - "Anata no yutteru koto wa mattaku wakarimasen. Jibun no yutteru koto sae mo wakannain desu yo."
The answer to life, the universe, and everything is… 42. - "Jinsei to uchuu to subete no kotae wa… yonjuuni."
Would you like a jelly baby? - "Jerii beibii wa ikaga?"
Karaoke Phrases

Turn it up. - "Boryuumu agete"
Gimme the mic. - "Maiku choodai"
Do you want to sing T.M.Revolution’s new song with me? - "T.M.Revolution no shinkyoku o issho ni utawanai?"
Damn, who made this crappy arrangement?! - "’Ttaku, kono hetakuso na oke o tsukutta yatsu wa dare da?!"
You sound just like ___! - "Niteru! Niteru!"
You’re good! - "Umai!"
Let’s ask for some food. - "Nanka tabemono tanomoo, yo!"
Where are the anime songs? - "Anime songu wa doko?"
Can you enter this in for me? (with the remote…I could never operate those things.. ^^;) - "Irete choodai?"
My throat hurts. - "Nodo itai".
Oops, forgot the lyrics… - "Ara, kashi wasurechatta…"
I give up/ I’ve had enough. - "Moo dame da."
I’m tone-deaf. - "Watashi wa onchi nanda"
If you sing a song by Judy and Mary, I’ll kick your ass. - "Judy and Mary no kyoku utattara bukkoroshite yaru kara!"
All the songs I want to sing are not in here. - "Watashi no utaitai kyoku wa koko ni wa nottenai".
I don’t like American (non-Asian) music. - "Yoogaku wa amari suki ja nai"
I want to sing ___. Can you find it for me? - "___ ga utaitai. Sagashite kureru?"
Words with no good English translation (Japanese~English)

"Yoroshiku (+"onegaishimasu" to be polite)" - This can mean lots of things. It literally means "please be nice to me", but can be used as "nice to meet you", or "…ni yoroshiku" can mean "give my regards to…". Or if you are going to work with someone on something (like a project for school, and you already know the person), say "yorushiku" for "let’s do a good job on this and hope you enjoy working with me". If you want someone to do something for you, and you’re expressing your "thanks in advance", you can say "yoroshiku ne" or "yoroshiku onegaishimasu". This is a very useful and polite word.

"~gozaimasu" - Our first exchange student (now grown up and with a baby ^_^) called this "the polite word". It means absolutely nothing (not in standard Japanese, anyway), but it makes words more polite. Like "arigato" becomes "arigato gozaimasu" and "omedeto" becomes "omedeto gozaimasu"…you can get away with NEVER using this word, but you may hear it a lot. In older and more humble Japanese, "gozaimasu" is the same as "arimasu" (to have/be in existence). So if you ask a servant of a rich-dude if he has some strawberries, he would most likely say "Hai. Gozaimasu" instead of "Hai. Arimasu". "…de gozaimasu" is like an older Japanese form of "…de arimasu/ de aru". So if a waitress in a fancy restaurant hands you your order and says "tempura de gozaimasu", she’s saying "here is your tempura, Sir/Madam/ (My Lord ^-^;)".

"Keigo" - This is what "polite form" is called in Japanese. This is a useful word to know so you can ask people not to use keigo (or to use keigo if you understand it better) or to tell them you’re sorry you’re not good at keigo (something I found myself saying all the time… ^^;;)

…and many more… I’ll put in more later…I think… ^^;



Pronunciation Guide

The Japanese alphabet is simple. It is based on 5 vowel sounds (and the diphthongs made my combining the sounds) and everything is spelled syllabically.

Their 5 vowel sounds are "a, i, u, e, o". (Pronounced "ah, ee, ooh, eh, oh"). Then, consonants can be placed before the vowels. The consonants are "k, s (sh), t (ch), n, h, m, y, r, w, g, z (j), d (j), p, and b." Some combinations can also be made with "k" and "ya" to make "kya" and "r" and "ya" to make "rya"…etc. ^-^;;

Well, ANYWAY, the consonants are pretty straightforward as far as pronunciation goes (though "r" is sort of a mix between "l", "r", and "d"… it even varies from speaker to speaker… O_o). And, naturally, all of these sounds are slightly different from the sounds we make in English, but I’d need sound files to explain that ^^;;;;;,

So BASICALLY, to make yourself understood when pronouncing stuff you read from a dictionary or from my phrases, remember the vowel sounds mentioned above, along with these diphthongs and long vowels:

"ai" - as in "die"
"ei" - as in "day"
"oi" - as in "toy"

And as for the long vowels; the only confusing one is "oo". In many romaji-style dictionaries, you’ll find the word "benkyoo" for "study". If this word were spelled with the Japanese syllables, however, it would use "be-n-ki-(small yo)-u". The "ki" and the "small ‘yo’" combine to make "kyo", and the "u" after the "o" sound means you hold the "o" out a beat longer than just plain "benkyo". Sometimes you’ll also see a horizontal line over the "o"… All the other vowels can also be long (not just "o"); just if you see "benkyoo", don’t pronounce it "benkyue" as in rhyming with "shoe" ^_^;

Double consonants (like in "hara hetta") are spoken with an emphasis. Plain old "Heta" would be pronounced simply "he-ta". With "Hetta", however, you pause a little between the "he" and the "ta" and sort of spit out the "t" a little stronger. When singing a double consonant, you hold out the preceding consonant-vowel syllable for one extra count. In this case, "Hetta" would be pronounced "he-e-ta" ^_^; Just try not to mix up your singing and speaking accents…

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