Say Hello

We can ease into our practice of spoken Japanese by going over some of the most basic greetings.

There is a good chance that you're already familiar with phrases like こんにちは (pronounced こんにちわ) for "hello" and おはようございます for "good morning."

Even if that is the case, it never hurts to do a bit of review. And I think that we can all benefit form practicing our pronunciation, which, if you're anything like me, is still far from perfect.

Speaking of pronunciation practice, I think that perhaps the most useful tool for this is loops of individual Japanese phrases, or "shadow loops," as I like to call them. We will be inserting these at the end of each lesson in this section of the course.

For example, you might see a phrase like this in the middle of the lesson:

こんにちは。
Hello.
Literally: "hello."

As you can see, both male and female audio is included for this phrase.

At the end of the lesson, we'll have the same phrase listed, but the male and female audio tracks will be looped:

こんにちは。
Hello.
Literally: "hello."

I recommend using these for review — that is, to check that you have successfully learned these phrases — and for honing your pronunciation. Toward the end of this course, all of these audio loops are available for download.

Now, back to the Japanese.

Yeah, こんにちは means "hello." In Japan, however, they adhere pretty strictly to the rule of using different greetings at different times of day. If it is the evening, for example, you wouldn't say こんにちは but instead:

こんばんは。
Good evening.
Literally: "good evening."

And if it were the morning, you would say:

おはようございます。
Good morning.
Literally: "good morning."

In a casual setting, you can drop the ございます, giving us simply:

おはよう。
Good morning.
Literally: "good morning."

These distinctions aren't very helpful when taking a lesson online because there is a good chance that your teacher will be living in a different time zone than you. Feel free to just use whichever greeting is appropriate for the time zone that you are in. Or, if you want to go the extra mile, figure out what time zone your teacher is in and use the appropriate greeting for her.



Although this isn't really a "greeting," I want to introduce another example of a word becoming shorter in casual language:

おやすみなさい。
Good night.
Literally: "good night."

Unless your teacher has mentioned that she's going to bed after your lesson is over, you probably won't get an opportunity to use this phrase in an online lesson. Whatever.

If you were talking to a friend or family member, though, there is a shortened form that you can use:

おやすみ。
Good night.
Literally: "good night."

Shortening words is a huge part of spoken Japanese. Once you get to a high level, you should even be able to shorten combos of words when making jokes with your friends and whatnot. Half the time, you'll probably choose an unnnatural combination of characters for your abbreviated form of a phrase, but that's part of the fun. ^_^



Practice Time:

こんにちは。
Hello.
Literally: "hello."

こんばんは。
Good evening.
Literally: "good evening."

おはようございます。
Good morning.
Literally: "good morning."

おはよう。
Good morning.
Literally: "good morning."

おやすみなさい。
Good night.
Literally: "good night."

おやすみ。
Good night.
Literally: "good night."




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