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Learning greetings is a great way to start communicating with people in their language. Particularly in Japanese-a culture that prizes proper social etiquette-knowing how to use greetings and parting phrases correctly will open doors for you as you study the language. The greetings and parting words below include audio files that will allow you to listen to the phrases and learn how they are pronounced.
Using "Ha" and "Wa" in Hiragana
Before studying Japanese greetings, it's important to learn how two important words are used in hiragana. Hiragana is a part of the Japanese writing system. It is a phonetic syllabary, which is a set of written characters that represent syllables. In most cases, each character corresponds to one syllable though there are few exceptions to this rule. Hiragana is used in many cases, such as writing articles or miscellaneous words that have no kanji form or an obscure kanji form
In Japanese, there is a rule for writing the hiragana for wa（わ) and ha（は). When wa is used as a particle, it is written in hiragana as ha. (A particle, joshi, is a word that shows the relationship of a word, phrase, or clause to the rest of the sentence.) In current Japanese dialogue, Konnichiwa or Konbanwa are fixed greetings. However, historically, they were used in sentences such as Konnichi wa ("Today is") or Konban wa ("Tonight is"), and wa functioned as a particle. That's why it is still written in hiragana as ha.
Common Japanese Greetings and Parting Phrases
Listen to the audio files carefully by clicking on the links, and mimic what you hear. Repeat this a few times until you are able to pronounce the greetings and parting phrases.
See you later
See you tomorrow.
How are you?
Genki desu ka
Tips on Greetings and Parting Phrases
Enhance your knowledge of Japanese greetings and parting words by reviewing some basic tips about the various phrases.
Ohayou Gozaimasu > Good Morning: If you are speaking to a friend or find yourself in a casual setting, you would use the word ohayou (おはよう) to say good morning. However, if you were on your way into the office and ran into your boss or another supervisor, you would want to use ohayou gozaimasu (おはようございます), which is a more formal greeting.
Konnichiwa > Good Afternoon: Although Westerners sometimes think the word konnichiwa (こんばんは) is a general greeting to be used at any time of day, it actually means "good afternoon." Today, it's a colloquial greeting used by anyone, but it can be part of the more formal greeting: Konnichi wa gokiken ikaga desu ka? (今日はご機嫌いかがですか?). This phrase loosely translates into English as “How are you feeling today?”
Konbanwa > Good Evening: Just as you would use one phrase to greet someone during the afternoon, the Japanese language has a different word for wishing people a good evening. Konbanwa (こんばんは) is an informal word you can use to address anyone in a friendly manner, though it can also be used as part of a larger and more formal greeting.
Mastering these greetings and parting words is a great early step in learning Japanese. Knowing the correct way to greet others, and to say goodbye, in Japanese demonstrates respect and an interest in the language and culture.