Basic greetings

8 basic greeting phrases with some real example situations

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Outline

VocabularyBasic greetings

Vocabulary

おはよう

Good morning

こんにちは

Hello, Hi

こんばんは

Good evening

おやすみ

Good night

さようなら

Good bye, Bye

すみません

Excuse me, Sorry

ありがとう

Thank you, Thanks

ごめん

I am sorry, Sorry

Basic greetings

おはよう

This phrase is used among close friends and family in the morning, similar to the English phrase "Good morning". It can also be used when meeting friends for the first time that day, regardless of the time.

The following are some situations where you might use おはよう:

  • Getting out of bed in the morning and greeting your family members.
  • Meeting friends for lunch and it's the first time you have seen them that day.

おはようございます

This phrase is the politer form of おはよう. This phrase is used among people with less intimate relationships. Below are some examples of when to use おはようございます:

  • Coming into work for an afternoon shift and greeting your boss.
  • Coming to class and greeting your teacher.

こんにちは

This phrase (read as こんにちわ) is used to greet other people during the day. Unlike おはよう, こんにちは does not have a politer form. Below are some examples of when to use こんにちは:

  • Greeting other people while hiking.
  • Greeting a manager who you are on good terms with.
  • When arriving at a store without any visible employees. こんにちは is said to make yourself known.

こんばんは

This phrase (read as こんばんわ) is used to greet people in the evenings and at night. Just like こんにちは, there is no polite form of this word either. Below are some examples of when to use こんばんは:

  • Visiting your relative's house at night/in the evening
  • Bumping into an acquaintance at the convenience store at night

Although こんにちは and こんばんは are both non-polite phrases, they are not used among family and close friends as the expressions have an aloof sound. おはよう is often used during the day instead of こんにちは, and Japanese people tend to use expressions like "thank you for waiting" or "what's up?" instead of こんばんは when they meet friends for the first time that day.

おやすみ

This phrase means goodnight. It can be used when you are going to bed and leaving home late at night. おやすみなさい is a politer version of おやすみ. This phrase comes from the noun やす which means rest. When the word is used as a greeting word, it is usually expressed in hiragana.

Here are some examples when おやすみ is used are:

  • When you are ending a call with your friend
  • When you are about to go to bed and greeting to your family
  • When you are taking the last train after work with your colleagues at night and leaving them at your stop

All the examples depend on the contexts/culture.

さようなら

This phrase is similar to the English phrases "Goodbye" or "See you later". Just like こんにちは and こんばんは, this expression is slightly too polite to use among friends. Phrases like またね or バイバイ/ばいばい are more commonly used among people with close relationships.

ありがとう

This phrase means "Thank you" in Japanese. Just like おはよう, there is a politer version: ありがとうございます. ありがとうございます is used when talking to people you have a less intimate relationship with. The past tense of the polite version, ありがとうございました, is used to appreciate a past incident. You might hear it when leaving a store or restaurant as "Thank you for choosing us.".

ごめん

This phrase means "Sorry" in Japanese. The politer version, ごめんなさい, makes it sound as though you are more apologetic about what you have done. Neither ごめん nor ごめんなさい are polite enough use in business situations.

すみません

This phrase means both "Excuse me" and "Sorry". Sometimes Japanese people will get them mixed up and use the word "Sorry" to call over a waiter in an English-speaking restaurant.

There is a variation of the word: すいません. The has been changed into an as it is easier to say. Though both すみません and すいません sound natural, the official word is still すみません.

When すみません is used as sorry, it is politer than saying ごめん or ごめんなさい. So in a business situation, people would generally use すみません rather than ごめん.

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