Greetings and Ritual Expressions


Common daily greetings and ritual expressions are introduced here. The dialogues below provide sample contexts. A vocabulary list follows each dialogue with some notes. Additional items are marked with +.

It is recommended that rather than memorizing words in isolation, you learn them through the dialogue along with appropriate body language.

First listen to the accompanying audio and practice each line aloud. Add on one line at a time. Stand up where appropriate. Practice alternatives for different contexts.


A: Ohayou. おはよう。Good morning.

B: Ohayou gozaimasu.おはようございます。Good morning.

Ohayou おはよう Good morning

Ohayou gozaimasu おはようございます Good morning (polite)

+Konnichiwa こんにちは Hello

+Konbanwa んばんは Good evening



Gozaimasu indicates politeness and formality. People who know each other well (family members, good friends) can use the short form. You should never use the short form with your superiors (teacher, boss, supervisor). Konnichiwa and konbanwa cover both formal and informal situations.

Offering and Accepting, Thanking

A: Douzoどうぞ。Go ahead. (Please take it)

B: Aa, doumo.ああ、どうも。Oh, thanks.

douzo どうぞ go ahead, by all means

a(a) あ(あ)oh, ah

doumo どうも thank you, I’m sorry

+arigatou ありがとう thank you

+arigatou gozaimasu ありがとうございます thank you (polite)

+arigatou gozaimashita. ありがとうございました thank you for what you’ve done



Douzo is used to offer things or invite people to go ahead.

Arigatou (gozaimasu) expresses thanks in general. You should never use the short form with your superiors (teacher, boss, supervisor). Doumo expresses gratitude or apology. It can also be combined with arigatou gozaimasu (‘Thank you very much’) or sumimasen (‘I’m very sorry’). Gozaimashita indicates past and is used when the act is completed.

Addressing Someone


A: Honda-san. 本田さん。Mr/s. Honda.

B: Hai. はい。Yes.

~san ~さん Mr/s. X

hai はい yes (that’s right), here you go


+~senseiX 先生 Prof./Dr. X



~san is a title that can be attached to a given name, a family name, and even some roles. Don’t attach it to your own name or the names of people in your group when talking to outsiders.

~sensei is a title that can be attached to teachers, professors, doctors, etc. You should not use ~san to refer to your teacher.

Hai means ‘that’s right,’ ‘present’ (in roll call), or ‘here you are’ (handing something over).


A: A, sumimasen. あ、すみません!Oh, sorry!

B: Ie, ie. いえ、いえ。No, no.

sumimasen すみません thank you, I’m sorry

ie, iie (formal), iya (casual) いいえ/いえ/いや no, that’s wrong

+sumimasen deshita すみませんでした thank you, I’m sorry for what’s done

+gomen ごめん sorry, excuse me (casual)

+gomen nasai ごめんなさい sorry, excuse me (casual, gentle)

+dou itashimashite どういたしまして you’re welcome, not at all


Sumimasen expresses apology or gratitude when you are about to trouble or have troubled someone. Sumimasen deshita expresses apology or gratitude when you have troubled someone.

Starting and Ending Eating/Drinking

A: Douzo.どうぞ。Please (have some.)

B: Jaa, itadakimasu.じゃあ、いただきます。Well, then I’ll have some.

Gochi sou sama deshita. ごちそうさまでした。Thank you (That was delicious).

jaa, ja じゃあ/じゃ well then, if so

itadakimasu いただきます ritual expression before eating

gochisou-sama ごちそうさま ritual expression after eating

gochisou-sama deshita ごちそうさまでした formal version of gochisou-sama


Ja is used to follow up on what has been said, to switch topic, etc.

Itadakimasu literally means ‘I’ll humbly accept it’ and is used before eating or receiving a gift. Gochisousama (deshita) shows gratitude for the food or drink one has been offered. Even when alone Japanese people tend to whisper itadakimasu and gochisousama to start and end eating.


A: Sumimasen. すみません。Excuse me.


Onegaishimasu. お願いします。Can you give that to me.

B: Hai, douzo. はい、どうぞ。Sure, here you go.


Onegai-shimasu お願いしますplease help me, do me a favor

Entering a Room (Knock on the door TWICE)

A: Shitsurei-shimasu. 失礼します。Excuse me.

B: Hai, douzo. はい、どうぞ。Yes, come in.


shitsurei-shimasu 失礼します excuse me

+shitsurei-shimashita 失礼しました excuse me for what I’ve done

Shitsurei-shimasu literally means ‘I’m going to do something rude’ and is used when entering a room, interrupting, or leaving. Shitsurei-shimashita is used for what you’ve done.

Leaving and Coming Back to Home /Office

A: Itte kimasu. いってきます。See you later.

B: Itte rasshai. いってらっしゃい。See you later.

A: Tadaima. ただいま。I’m home.

B: Okaerinasai. おかえりなさい。Welcome back.

itte kimasu いってきます ritual expression when leaving home

itte rasshai いってらっしゃい ritual response to Itte kimasu

tadaima ただいま ritual expression upon coming home


okaerinasai お帰りなさい ritual response to Tadaima

Itte kimasu is used when leaving home or stepping out the office for an errand. It implies that you are coming back.

Meeting People for the First Time

A:      Hajimemashite. はじめまして。How do you do.


Honda desu. 本田です。I’m Honda.


B:      Honda-san desu ka 本田さんですか。You’re Mr. Honda?

Sumisu desu スミスです。I’m Smith.

Douzo yoroshiku. どうぞよろしく。Nice to meet you.

Hajimemashite はじめまして How do you do?

~desuX です it is/I’m/you’re/they are X, etc.

~desu kaX ですかis it/am I/are you/are they X? etc.

yoroshikuよろしくritual expression when meeting someone, when needing a favor


yoroshiku onegai-shimasu よろしくお願いしますplease treat me favorably, thank you in advance



Hajimemashite literally means ‘for the first time.’ It is a ritual expression used in first meeting people. You can respond with your own hajimemashite or douzo yoroshiku onegai-shimasu. Make sure you bow.

After a person tells you their name, confirm it by asking X-san desu ka. Repetition may seem unnecessary, but it’s customary to do so during introductions.

Taking Leave


A: Ja, shitsurei-shimasu.じゃ、失礼します。Well then, I’ll go (excuse me).


B: Aa, otsukare-sama deshita. ああ、お疲れさまでした. Ah, thanks for the good work.

otuskare(-sama) おつかれ(さま)thanks for your work, you must be tired

otsukare-sama desu おつかれさまです (formal) (on going)

otuskare-sama deshita おつかれさまでした (the work is over)

The above are common greetings between co-workers. They are also used to thank service personnel or acknowledge anyone’s hard work.


A: Ja, mata.じゃ、また。Well, see you.

B: Sayonaraさよなら。Good-bye.

ja, mata じゃ、また see you later (informal)

sayonara/sayounara さよなら/さようなら Good-bye.

Retiring at Night

A: Ja, oyasumiじゃ、おやすみ。

B: Aa, oyasuminasaiああ、おやすみなさい。

oyasumi おやすみ

oyasumi nasai おやすみなさい


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