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JPLearn! - Volume I
Introduction to Japanese Greetings
Introduction to Japanese Greetings
Lesson Overview

We hope that you have enjoyed the lessons so far. Today we will be learning about a few different greetings and disassembling them, giving you a better perspective on the construct of Japanese words. In this lesson, as well as any other that involves vocabulary, be sure to take advantage of our Vocabulary Tracking system by adding new words to your own personal dictionary.

First Greetings

In Japan, it is polite to say "good afternoon", "good evening" and"good morning". If you would like to greet someone, instead of saying “hello” you could simply say “good [blank]”.

Let’s review some examples:
Good AfternoonKonnichiwaこんにちは
Good EveningKonbanwaこんばんは

Did you notice that both konnichiwa and konbanwa follow a similar pattern? They both start with “kon” and end with “wa”. Let’s look at this a little further.

KonIs the root word that indicates the present time.
NichiThis portion of “konichiwa” means day.
WaIn this instance is used as a particle. Because it is used as a particle it is written in hiragana as "ha" and not "wa". We will later learn the reason why and study the meaning behind particles.
BanThis portion of "konbanwa" means night, but can also mean other things as well.

By understanding the construct of these words, you can now see how easy Japanese is going to be. Please keep an open mind about how words and phrases are constructed to accelerate your learning speed. In the future, you will learn many more uses of "kon" and "wa" and as a reminder, we will later learn in another lesson about particles.

Good Morning and Good Night

These two new greetings are slightly more complicated than the previous ones but don’t worry, they will come to you naturally very soon.

Good MorningOhayou gozaimasuおはようございます
Good NightOyasuminasaiおやすみなさい

As you may have noticed, Good Morning has two words, "Ohayou" and "gozaimasu". While it is likely more used just by saying "ohayou", it is informal and if speaking to non-friends such as family or co-workers, it can be perceived as being impolite or rude.

Being polite in Japan is very important regardless of age or gender and especially so when speaking to those older than you and/or has higher status.

The word "Ohayou" could be roughly translated as g'morning, hence why it is informal to use it on its own. The word "gozaimasu" in this instance is more of a sign of politeness and to further elaborate would be premature. We will learn more about the meaning behind "gozaimasu" in a later lesson.

Remember to keep an eye on patterns in words as this will aid you at accelerating your studies.

Basic Home Greetings

I'm HomeTadaimaただいま
Welcome HomeOkaerinasaiおかえりなさい

Did you notice a pattern? When saying “Good Night” (oyasuminasai), there is a similarity to "Welcome Home" (okaerinasai). The ending "nasai" is a polite imperative (said by required politeness), which in this case acts as a means to give your regards.

But strangely, the word "okaerinasai" does not literally mean “Welcome home” or “Welcome back” but rather literally translates to "Please do come back". This may seem strange and may not make much sense at first glance, however it does make perfect sense in its own way. By telling someone "please do come back" you are essentially letting them know that no matter where they go, they are always welcome back.

Sentences such as these have deep impact between native speakers and as such come the great importance of respect and politeness.

End of Lesson Notes

Please be sure to complete your homework before proceeding to the next lesson. In the next lesson, we will be learning about Hiragana, stroke order, and how to write your first words!
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