20 Useful Japanese Expressions

23 Oct

1. Yatta (I did it!)
Say yatta when you accomplish something big or receive a great opportunity.  Passing a difficult test, getting the job you wanted, or winning the lottery all qualify as yatta material.

2. Honto (Really?)
Say honto to confirm what you just heard.  Suppose your colleague tells you that she’s marrying your boss.  Respond to the news by saying honto.  You can use honto in a lot of situations because unbelievable things happen every day.

3. A, so desu ka (Really?)
Say a, so desu ka every time your conversational partner provides a new piece of information.  Be sure to nod as you say this expression.  If you talk casually with a Japanese person, you may use this phrase 200 times in an hour.

4.Mochiron (Of course!)
Use this adverb when you’re 100 percent confident in your opinion.  If you were a married man, how would you answer this question from your wife: “would you marry me if you had a chance to do it all over again?” “Don’t think about it; just say mochiron.

5. A, yokatta (Oh, good)
Say a yokatta every time you feel like saying “what a relief” or “oh, good.”  If you’re a worrier, you may say it ten times a day.

6. Zenzen (Not at all)
Zenzen is the phrase of denial.  Suppose someone asks you, “Am I disturbing you?”  If she isn’t bothering you, say zenzen and shake your head.

7.Nani (What?)
Say nani when you don’t hear or understand what the other person said.  You can also say nani when you can’t believe or don’t like what you hear.

8. Doshiyo (What shall I do?)
Say doshiyo when you’re in a panic and have no idea what to do.  You can repeat it over and over while you try to think of a solution.

9. A, bikkurishita (What a surprise!)
Say a bikkurishita when you’re very surprised.

10.  Yappari (I know would happen)
Sometimes you have a vague suspicion that something will happen, and then it actually happens.  At times like that, say yappari.

Ten phrases that make you sound like a local

1. Enryo shinaide (Don’t be shy)
Japanese guests often refuse food or drink offers at least once.  If you’re the host, say enryo shinaide.

2. Mottainai (What a waste/it’s too good)
Say mottainai to object to waste.  You can also say it if someone lacks a true appreciation for something valuable.

3.Osakini (Pardon me, but I’m leaving now)
When you have to leave a gathering early, say osakini to display your thoughtfulness for others.

4. Sasuga (I’m impressed by you, as usual)
Sasuga literally means, “As might have been expected,” but it’s commonly used as a compliment.  If a friend wins a competition, say sasuga.

5. Gambatte (Try your best)
The Japanese believe that the effort is more important than the result.  If a friend’s going to take an important exam, say gambatte to her.

6.  Shoganai (There’s no choice/There’s nothing that can be done)
When you’re in a jam and none of the possible solutions will work well, choose one and say shoganai, which shows that you’ve resigned yourself to the situation.

7.  Okage-sama de (Luckily/Thanks to you)
If someone asks ogenki desu ka (how are you?), you answer with the modest okage-sama de rather than genki desu.  The original meaning is that your well-being is due to God and others, including the person you’re talking to.

8. Gokuro-sama (Thank you for your trouble)
If you’re the boss, say gokuro-sama to each of your workers when they say good-bye to you at the end of the day.

9. Yoroshiku (Pleased to meet you/I appreciate your helping me)
You can say yoroshiku when you first meet someone, as in you’re pleased to meet him.  You can also say it after asking a favor of someone, in which case it means, “I appreciate your helping me.”

10. Taihen desu ne (That’s tough)
Use this phrase to show sympathy, such as when your friend tells you about her difficulties.


2 Responses to “20 Useful Japanese Expressions”

  1. Keita October 24, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    >5. Gambatte (Try your best)
    do your bestでもOK?

    >6. Shoganai (There’s no choice/There’s nothing that can be done)
    I cann’t help itも使える?

    • sushifuchi October 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

      Hmm…I’ve had a hard time understanding what you tried to say, since I’m learning Japanese lol. However I went to my advisor lol and she told me that you can’t use “I can’t help it” for shoganai since shoganai has a nuance that the society can’t help it. Not just you.

      I hope this helps! But I’ll be looking into that deeply 😉

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