Japanese vocabulary and common phrases for beginners including numbers, colors, greetings, apologies, thanks, question words, directions, and even more.

The below is a good list of stuff you should know to get started but once you decide to get serious about study, here's a quick list of must-use resources for Japanese study.

Numbers

  • Ichi (一) - One
  • Ni (二) - Two
  • San (三) - Three
  • Yon/Shi (四) - Four
  • Go (五) - Five
  • Roku (六) - Six
  • Nana/Shichi (七) - Seven
  • Hachi (八) - Eight
  • Kyuu (九) - Nine
  • Juu (十) - Ten
  • Hyaku (百) - One Hundred
  • Sen (千) - One Thousand
  • Man (万) - Ten Thousand
  • Juu Man (十万) - One Hundred Thousand
  • Hyaku Man (百万) - One Million


Note: With English style counting, we put the comma after every third numeral or place value. In this way, we have three steps in the place values before we need a new word. The first is one. The next is ten. The third is hundred. Once we get above the hundred's we need a new word to categories the next three place values. This word is thousand. So the forth (the first after the third and the first after the first comma) is one thousand - one comma thousand or 1,000. The next is ten thousand then hundred thousand. Another comma and we need a new word. The next word is million. One million or one comma million or 1,000,000. Every three place values we need a new word.

Japanese sometimes uses the period mark or dot instead of commas and places their dot after every forth place value (though this is kind of old school and not seen very much, it still applies to the language of the numbers). So ichi for one, juu for ten, hyaku for hundred and sen for thousand. So far it's easy to remember. But the next number isn't ten + thousand or juu-sen, because in Japanese the new word comes after the forth place value. The next word is man for 10,000 or 1.0000 in Japanese notation. (If you're wondering about the decimal point, it sits in mid-air. eg 1.2345・67 for 12,345.67.)

When it comes to money, the sen-en bill or 1,000 yen bill is easy to compare to an American $10 bill (or 1000 cents). The ichi-man-en bill or 10,000 yen bill is easy enough to equate to the US $100 bill (or 10,000 cents). Obviously, this is very rough and takes no account for exchange rates.

Colors

  • Aoi (青い) - Blue
  • Midori (緑) - Green
  • Akai (赤い) - Red
  • Kiiro ( 黄色) - Yellow
  • Orenjii (オレンジイ) - Orange
  • Murasaki (紫) - Purple
  • Kuroi (黒い) - Black
  • Shiroi (白い) - White

Greetings

  • Ohayougozaimasu (おはようございます) - Good Morning ==
  • Konnichiwa (こんにちは) - Good Afternoon
  • Konbanwa (こんばんは) - Good Evening
  • Hisashiburi (久しぶり) - Long time no see
  • Tadaima (ただいま) - I'm home
  • Okaeri (お帰り) - Welcome back

Apologies

  • Gomen (ごめん) - I'm sorry (Informal)
  • Gomennasai (ごめんなさい) - I'm sorry (formal)
  • Sumimasen (すみません) - Excuse me/ I'm sorry ==
  • Shitsureishimasu (しつれいします) - I'm being rude, sorry/ Sorry for being rude (Used when coming in late to class or a meeting)
  • Ojamashimasu (お邪魔します) - Excuse me for disturbing (Used when entering someone's home)

Thanks

  • Arigatou (ありがとう) - Thank you (informal)
  • Arigatougozaimasu (ありがとうございます) - Thank you (formal)
  • Hontou ni arigatougozaimasu (本当にありがとうございます) - Thank you very much
  • Otsukaresama (お疲れ様) - Thank you for your hard work
  • ~Okagede (~おかげで) - ~Thanks to you (Used to praise someone when they praise you for something) (IE* XX-さん* "(Your name)の日本語が上手ですね" (Your Japanese is really good) You* "XX-さんのおかげで" (Thanks to you XX-san)
  • Douitashimashite (どういたしまして) - You're welcome (Or how my teacher taught it to us* "Don't touch my mustache")

I Don't Know/ I Don't Speak

  • Wakarimasen (分かりません) - I don't understand
  • Shirimasen (知りません) - I don't know
  • Nihongo wo hanashimasen (日本語を話しません) - I don't speak any Japanese*(; ;)

Question Words

  • Nani (何) - What?
  • Naze/Doushite (なぜ/どうして) - Why?
  • Doko (どこ) - Where?
  • Itsu (いつ) - When?
  • Dare (だれ) - Who?
  • To make a sentance a question simply add "ka" (か) to the end of it.

Directions

  • Kita (北) - North
  • Higashi (東) - East
  • Minami (南) - South
  • Nishi (西) - West

Adjective

  • Ii (いい) - Good
  • Warui (悪い) - Bad
  • Atsui (暑い) - Hot
  • Atatakai (暖かい) - Warm
  • Samui (寒い) - Cold
  • Kirei (綺麗) - Pretty/Clean
  • Kawaii (可愛い) - Cute
  • Kowai (怖い) - Scary
  • Takai (高い) - Expensive/High
  • Yasui (安い) - Inexpensive/Cheap
  • Yasashii (優しい) - Kind/Friendly
  • Ijiwarui (意地悪い) - Ill-Spirited/Mean
  • Oishii/Umai (美味しい/旨い) - Delicious
  • Mazui (不味い) - Disgusting/Bad (Taste)

Vocabulary

  • Ano (あの) - Used to cut into a conversation/Get attention
  • Eeto (ええと) - Sound made when pausing or when you are thinking of what to say next.
  • Kushami (くしゃみ) - Sneeze
  • Onara (おなら) - Fart
  • Unko (うんこ) - Poop
  • Geri (下痢) - Diarrhea
  • Eigo (英語) - English (Language)
  • Nihongo (日本語) - Japanese (Language)
  • Iie (いいえ) - No (Formal) ==
  • Hai (はい) - Yes (Formal) ==
  • Sensei (先生) - Teacher (also used to refer to someone who is a professional in their field)
  • Gakusei (学生) - Student
  • Watashi (私) - I, me, Myself (Used when referring to yourself)
  • Denwa (電話) - Telephone
  • Keitai Denwa (形態電話) - Cellular Phone (Usually just referred to as Keitai for short

Miscellaneous phrases

  • Itadakimasu (いただきます) - Thank you for the food*(Used before eating a meal)
  • Gochisousamadeshita (ごちそうさまでした) - Thank you for the food*(Used after finishing a meal)
  • Eigo ga wakarimasu ka? (英語が分かりますか?) - Do you understand English?
  • Nihongo wo sukoshi hanashimasu (日本語を少し話せます) - I can only speak a little Japanese
  • Mou ichidou itte kudasai (もういちどういって下さい) - Could you say that again please
  • Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasai (もっとゆっくり話して下さい) - Could you speak a little slower please
  • TOIRE ha doko desu ka? (トイレはどこですか?) - Where is the toilet/bathroom?
  • Ima nanji desu ka? (今何時ですか?) - What time is it now?
  • Nomihoudai ga arimasu ka? (飲み放題がありますか?) - Do you have an "all-you-can-drink" special?
  • Tabehoudai ga arimasu ka? (食べ放題がありますか?) - Do you have an "all-you-can-eat" special?

Side Notes

  • In Japanese everything is based on context so one does not fully understand the conversation until the person has finished speaking*Be wary of this and listen to the end before giving a response.
  • Body Language - This is extremely important in Japan since it is used on a daily basis*Japanese can be communicated without saying a single word in certain situations*I'll try finding a link to a site that shows some of these moves to help make it easier*^^
  • Sarcasm - Just a heads up, sarcasm doesn't really go across all too well in Japan*Although it is widely used in our home countries it's not really something that is the norm in Japan so most people won't understand that it's meant to be taking jokingly or that it's a joke all together*haha anyways, just a heads up*^^
  • Ohayou (おはよう) - Among young people this can be used throughout the day if it is the first time seeing someone.
  • Sumimasen (すみません) - Can also be used to get someone's attention as it is not polite and considered very rude to point or stare at someone in Japanese culture.

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