Greet in Japanese

Greetings are useful to quickly start speaking another language because they are short, simple and can be completed by themselves. All you have to do is to memorise the phrase and use it on an appropriate occasion. You do not need to worry about grammatical correctness. After reading this article, you will be able to greet in Japanese on any occasions.

Let’s start with the greetings that have equivalents in English. Both languages have general greetings for morning, afternoon, evening and so on. Somehow, English always uses ‘good’ no matter if it is good or bad.
  • Good morning. = おはようございます (Ohayoo gozai-masu)
  • Good afternoon. = こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
  • Good evening. = こんばんは (Konbanwa)
  • Good night. = おやすみなさい (Oyasumi nasai)
  • Good bye. = さようなら (Sayoonara)
These greetings can be used straight away because the proper occasion is understandable. However, it might be difficult for you to memorise all of them at once. I can give you one strong phrase for you.

The phrase is ‘Otsukare-sama desu’. This can replace every greeting I mentioned, ‘Good morning.’ ‘Good afternoon.’ ‘Good evening.’ ‘Good night.’ and ‘Good bye.’.

Technically, this phrase shows recognition of a person’s work. In this sense, it is equivalent to ‘Good job.’, ‘Well done.’ and ‘Congratulations.’ in English. However, the phrase is used far more often than them. In fact, it is hard to find the situation when you cannot use this phrase because most of us do a kind of labour to live. The labour includes your job, house work, exams, exercises and whatever makes people feel tired.

When you meet a colleague in the office, you can say ‘Otsukare-sama desu’.
When you meet a friend on the street, you can say ‘Otsukare-sama desu’.
When you leave friends after a small chat, you can say ‘Otsukare-sama desu’.

If you can make a bow, it will be perfect because the phrase ‘Otsukare-sama desu’ is a formal form.

The informal forms will be useful too. The informal forms are ‘Otsukare’ or ‘Otukare-sama’. These can be used to close friends and within your family.

Although they can replace normal greetings in almost any case, they are not used in the morning to a person who just has woken up from a good sleep. They can be used in the morning to a person who just had an overnight labour. The difference is whether there is a work to be recognised or not.

There are unique greetings in Japanese similar to ‘Otsukare-sama desu’. Some of them are used on many occasions. Others are used on limited occasions. Japanese people sometimes get lost in what to say in English at the occasions because some of them have no equivalent in English.

At the end of a certain work, the past form of ‘Otsukare-sama desu’ can be used. I can say ‘Otsukare-sama deshita’ at the end of this article instead of ‘Goodbye.’.

‘Otsukare-sama deshita’.

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