Polite expressions

Japanese people are very polite. Like in every language, there is a range of various expressions to be polite. In this section, we’re going to learn how the Japanese express their gratitude, appreciation, apology etc.
I will also point out relevant polite expressions, depending on who are we talking to; a friend that we address directly, a stranger or someone that we should show some respect to.
English Japanese (colloquial) Japanese (polite) Comment
good morning (till 10 o’clock) おはよう [ohayoo] おはよう ございます [ohayoo gozaimasu] It is quite important to distinguish between "good morning" and "good afternoon"; "gozaimasu" is a very polite form of the word meaning "is"
good afternoon (after 10:00) こんにちは [konnichiwa] pay attention to the last syllable: despite it is pronounced „wa", we write it as は("ha"); it is one of just few exceptions
good evening こんばんは [konbanwa]
see you じゃ, また [ja, mata] - only while talking to friends
good bye さようなら [sayoonara] used in official situations (e.g., in offices), when we do not expect to meet that person again
おつかれ [otsukare] おつかれさま [otsukaresama] after work; especially when someone leaves earlier than we do; to be precise, this expression can be translated as "it was very exhausting work"; to the polite form, a grammar ending です (desu) or でした (deshita) is added
おさきに [osakini] おさきに しつれい します [osakini shitsuree shimasu] "osakini" means "earlier, before the others"; in the polite form it is accompanied with "shitsuree shimasu" - literally: "I’m being impolite" or "I lost good manners"
いってくる [itte kuru] いってきます [itte kimasu] when we leave for a definite period of time and we intend to return; we should rather avoid the colloquial form
good bye (while talking on the phone) - しつれい します [shitsuree shimasu] finishing the telephone call is very specific in Japanese language – closing phrase is often missing (in our opinion) and it may seem that the conversation is ended without any farewell
good night おやすみ [oyasumi] おやすみ なさい [oyasumi nasai] similarly like in English, before going to sleep it is good to refer to our plans by saying something like "we have to get up early tomorrow" or "it is awfully late already"
excuse me / thank you すみません [sumimasen] this is one of the most important words; it is pretty universal and can mean:
1. Excuse me – when we want to ask someone to make us way etc.
2. I am sorry – if we want to apologize for what we’ve done and we regret doing that
3. Thank you – if someone did us a favour; it can be understood as "I am sorry that you had to spend so much time on helping me"
I’m sorry ごめん[gomen] ごめんなさい [gomen nasai] when we made someone upset with our behaviour
thank you ありがとう [arigatoo] (どうも) ありがとう ございます [(doomo) arigatoo gozaimasu] simply thank you; "doomo" is optional in polite form
don’t mention it いいえ [iie] どういたしまして [dooitashimashite] "iie" means just "no" and is analogous to English expression "don’t mention it"; we can also use double "iie, iie"; it is not of typically colloquial nature, so it can be used also in the official situations; it’s quite interesting, that "iie" as negation is used relatively rarely
not at all, you’re welcome (resp. to "thank you") どうぞ [doozo] doing someone a favour
can I have/get (something) おねがい します [onegai shimasu]
ください [kudasai]
nice to meet you はじめまして [hajimemashite] when meeting someone for the first time – Japanese people remember, that the first meeting is crucial for future relations, so they are extremely polite then – they bow and smile amicably, but handshake is not customary
at your service よろしく [yoroshiku] どうぞ よろしく (おねがい します) [doozo yoroshiku (onegai shimasu)] follows "hajimemashite", after finishing presentation
enjoy your meal いただきます [itadakimasu] - literally: "I’ll accept (this meal)"; a lot of people join hands and bow a little
thank you (after the meal) ごちそうさま (でした) [gochisoosama (deshita)] - meaning "it was a real feast", even it was just a cake
I’m going out (and I’ll be back) いってきます [itte kimasu] - these four expressions are almost always used by the Japanese, when somebody leaves or returns; it is very important to remember them if we are going to live with a Japanese family
go (and come back) いってらっしゃい [itte rasshai]
I’m back already ただいま [tadaima]
welcome home おかえり[okaeri] おかえり なさい[okaeri nasai]
Words listed above are used very often, so they are worth remembering. The best way to do that is practice – imagine various situations, in which you could use these expressions. For example:
  • You stepped on somebody’s foot on the train (happens quite often). What will you say to apologise?
  • here is a new friend in your group – how will you introduce yourself (instantly impressing her with your knowledge of Japanese language)?
  • Your room mate has just returned home from work – which expression(s) will be suitable?
Create different situations in your mind, or just try to match relevant Japanese expressions in real situations that you experience, for example:
  1. Welcome your neighbour coming back from work.
  2. Apologise to a person, whom you accidently spilt your drink on at a restaurant.
  3. Say good bye to your school/ work mate.
  4. Say good bye to your mother, leaving home.
  5. Introduce yourself to a new friend.
  6. Thank randomly met person for received advices.
I am sure that you will find tens of other situations, which may create an occasion to use the Japanese expression you have learnt during this lesson. おつかれさま でした!


Incoming search terms:
  • polite japanese phrases
  • polite expressions
  • japanese polite expressions
  • japanese expression of politeness
  • japanese polite phrases
  • Polite Phrases in Japanese
  • polite expressions in japanese
  • japanese polite words
  • japanese expressions of politeness
  • good morning in japanese polite


Previous part: Sentence structure