Dialogue - Japanese


Vocabulary (Review)

こんばんは。 [こんばんは。] Konbanwa. Good evening.
こんにちは [こんにちは] kon'nichi wa hello
おはようございます [おはようございます] ohayō gozaimasu Good morning. (formal)
おはよう [おはよう] Ohayō Good morning! (informal)

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of This Lesson Is Greeting Someone in Japanese.
Ohayō gozaimasu.
"Good morning!"

Welcome to Absolute Beginner Season 1! This series is geared toward those who have absolutely no background in Japanese and want to be able to speak Japanese without spending a lot of time studying grammar. You'll learn Japanese through sentence patterns that are easy to grasp and to put together. In the first five lessons, we will focus on the very basics of Japanese to give you a solid foundation to work with. In this first lesson, we will look at different greetings in Japanese.

Greeting Someone in Japanese (at Any Time of Day!)




Let's take a look at how to greet someone in Japanese. Just as there are multiple greetings in English, such as "good morning", "hi"/"hello", and "good evening", depending on the time of day, the greeting you use in Japanese will change depending on the time of day as well.

In the morning:








Ohayō gozaimasu

"Good morning!"

At any time (usually during the day):





Kon'nichi wa

"Hi!" "Hello!"

In the evening/at night:






"Good evening!"

* Note that ohayō is the casual version of the phrase ohayō gozaimasu, and we should only use it with close family members or friends. With people you don't know very well, you should use the full phrase ohayō gozaimasu.


Cultural Insights

Formal and Informal Speech

One important thing to know about Japanese is that there are two distinct types of speech: formal speech and informal speech.


You should use formal speech with strangers, people older than you, and family members you do not know well.

Informal speech is casual speech you should use with close friends and family members and those who are the same age or younger than you.
Because it can be rude to use informal speech in certain situations, this series mainly uses formal speech, which is safe to use with anyone.

Japanese Writing System

The Japanese writing system is made up of three scripts: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana are phonetic scripts (meaning each character represents one sound), while kanji is a script that uses Chinese characters that have meanings.

Hiragana is the most basic of the scripts: it is the one Japanese children learn to read and write first, and technically we can write every Japanese word using hiragana.

In the Lesson Notes for this Absolute Beginner series, the Japanese you see is written using hiragana. If you don't know hiragana or katakana yet and want to learn how to read and write it, check out our Kantan Kana video series: Learn Hiragana with Worksheets and Learn Katakana with Worksheets.


Lesson Transcript

Jessi: Hi, everyone こんにちは!(Kon'nichi wa!) I'm Jessi.
Naomi: こんにちは!(Kon'nichi wa!) And I'm Naomi.
Jessi: Welcome to Absolute Beginner Season 1 , Lesson 1 - Say Hello in Japanese No Matter the Time of Day. Our first lesson of Absolute Beginner.
Naomi: A brand new series!
Jessi: That's right. This is a brand new series at JapanesePod101..com. As you may have guessed, this series is designed for absolute beginners to Japanese. And some people might be thinking, well, how is it different from the newbie series? Well, this Absolute Beginner series is recommended for those who aren't interested in studying grammar and learning the meaning behind every particle and piece of the sentence. Instead, you'll learn Japanese through easy to use sentence patterns and expressions.
Naomi: Right. We aim to make Japanese simple and fun.
Jessi: Exactly.
Naomi: The first 5 lessons are called the Introduction Lessons.
Jessi: Yes. These first 5 lessons will teach you the very basics of Japanese, the essentials.
Naomi: You can't speak Japanese without knowing these.
Jessi: Definitely. After the introduction lessons, you'll follow the story of Taylor Allen, an American who is hosting some Japanese family members at his home.
Naomi: Please stay tuned. You won't want to miss it!
Jessi: For now, let's get started with Introduction Lesson 1! Naomi, what are we going to learn in this lesson?
Naomi: Well, did you catch the phrase we said in the beginning?
Jessi: Ah, こんにちは, which means hello, right?
Naomi: Yes. We'll learn this and many other basic greetings in Japanese.
Jessi: Sounds good. Oh, but before we get into anything, there's something important I want to mention about Japanese.
Naomi: Oh, what's that?
Jessi: The fact that there are different politeness levels. At the beginning stages, we divide them into groups - formal speech and informal speech.
Naomi: Good point! In Japanese, the level of speech you use depends on who you're talking to.
Jessi: Exactly. For example, if you are talking to a stranger, someone older than you or someone you don't know very well, even if they're a family member, you will use formal speech.
Naomi: If you are talking to close friends or family, you will use informal speech.
Jessi: Right, and in this series...
Naomi: We will use mostly formal speech.
Jessi: Yes, and you may wonder why that is. Here is why. If you use formal speech, you're safe in pretty much any situation. Even if the situation calls for informal speech. you're not going to offend anyone. On the other hand, if you use informal speech in a situation where you should be using formal speech, you could come off as rude.
Naomi: Right, sticking with formal speech at first is safe!
Jessi: Yes, but we will introduce you to informal words and phrases throughout the series as well. Okay, so let's get started! Please listen closely to the following phrases.

Lesson conversation

Male: おはよう。(Ohayō.)
Female: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Male: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Female: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Male: こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Female: こんばんは。(Konban wa.)
English Host: Now, let's listen to it with the translation.
Jessi[in the morning]
Male: おはよう。(Ohayō.)
Jessi: Morning!
Female: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Jessi: Good morning.
Jessi[during the day]
Male:こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Jessi: Hello!
Female: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Jessi: Hello.
Jessi[at night]
Male: こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Jessi: Good evening!
Female: こんばんは。(Konban wa.)
Jessi: Good evening.

Lesson focus

Jessi: Okay, so we just heard three sets of phrases.
Naomi: Yes, phrases to use in the morning, during the daytime, and at night.
Jessi: These are phrases you use when you first see someone that day. So basically, they're greetings.
Naomi: Right.
Jessi: We aren't going to go in order from morning to night though. We're going to start with the one that you probably already know. Naomi, which one is that?
Naomi: こんにちは!(Kon'nichi wa!)
Jessi: こんにちは!(Kon'nichi wa!)Now, this word is well-known even among people who don't speak Japanese, but those people may not know the correct pronunciation! Can we hear it again, Naomi? Listen carefully.
Naomi: こんにちは (Kon'nichi wa)
Jessi: こんにちは (Kon'nichi wa). You hold the "n" sound for a little bit, don't you?
Naomi: That's right. こ「ん」にちは (KoN'nichi wa).
Jessi: Listeners, now you try it! Repeat after Naomi.
Naomi: こんにちは!(Kon'nichi wa!)
Jessi: Great! Now, we can use this word anytime, right?
Naomi: Yes! This is your basic, standard greeting in Japanese. But, there are even better expressions to use in the morning and evening.
Jessi: Yes! Let's hear them again. What do we say in the morning?
Naomi: おはようございます!(Ohayō gozaimasu!)
Jessi: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Naomi: This means "good morning!"
Jessi: Good morning! おはようございます!(Ohayō gozaimasu!)
Naomi: おはようございます!(Ohayō gozaimasu!)
Jessi: Now it's the listeners turn! Repeat after Naomi.
Naomi: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Naomi: Great job!
Jessi: Naomi, I have a question! In the beginning of the lesson, the first person said just おはよう, and the second person said おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.) The first one is shorter, but why is that?
Naomi: Good question! Remember how we talked about the two types of speech?
Jessi: Ah, yes! Formal speech and informal speech?
Naomi: Yes! The longer version, おはようございます(Ohayō gozaimasu), is formal speech. If you take off the last part, ございます(gozaimasu), you end up with おはよう(Ohayō). This is informal speech.
Jessi: Ah, so with close friends and family members, we can just say おはよう!(Ohayō!)
Naomi: Exactly. With all other people, you should use おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Jessi: Ah, that's good to know! So, let's show an example of how both are used. Let's say Naomi is my boss, and I'm her subordinate. When we meet each other at work first thing in the morning, we might say something like this.
Naomi: おはよう!(Ohayō!)
Jessi: おはようございます!(Ohayō gozaimasu!)
Naomi: Just like that.
Jessi: Okay, and now we have one more phrase to go over - the one we use in the evening. Which is...?
Naomi: こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Jessi:こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Naomi: This means "good evening".
Jessi: When do you start to use this?
Naomi: Hmm, I'd say when it starts to get dark.
Jessi: Ah. So then you can switch from こんにちは (Kon'nichi wa) to こんばんは (Konban wa).
Naomi: That's right. こんばんは (Konban wa).
Jessi: こんばんは (Konban wa). Now it's the listener's turn! Please repeat after Naomi.
Naomi: こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Jessi: Great! Now we've gone over all three phrases. Let's review them all again.
What do we say in the morning?
Naomi: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Jessi: During the daytime?
Naomi: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Jessi: And how about in the evening?
Naomi: こんばんは。(Konban wa.)
Jessi: Excellent! Now it's time for you to respond to Naomi. Kind of like a mini roleplay. Imagine Naomi walking up to you and saying the following phrases. How would you respond? Here we go.
Naomi: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Jessi: The next one is:
Naomi: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Jessi: And the last one:
Naomi: こんばんは。 (Konban wa.)
Jessi: Great! Awesome work, you guys! If you said the exact same thing back to Naomi, you're all set. You're now armed with 3 essential greetings in Japanese.
Naomi: You've taken a big first step! See you then!
Jessi: Until next time.

Lesson conversation

Male: おはよう。(Ohayō.)
Female: おはようございます。(Ohayō gozaimasu.)
Male: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Female: こんにちは。(Kon'nichi wa.)
Male: こんばんは!(Konban wa!)
Female: こんばんは。(Konban wa.)