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Japanese Lessons: Part 7

Posted February 21st, 2012 at 10:56 AM by Esper
Tags japanese

Lesson 1: hiragana
Lesson 2: katakana
Lesson 3: more kana

Lesson 4: grammar intro

Lesson 5: kanji

: more kanji
Lesson 6: kanji/vocab

This comes completely out of order from the way you're supposed to learn it, but here we go anyway. Today you get to learn about introductions.

Meeting people for the first time is a pretty standard affair, especially for non-natives like us. It helps break the ice when meeting someone for the first time and lets people know that, hey, you did try to learn something about the language and culture. People will appreciate that (and probably shower you with praise for your effort).

There are basically three things you do in your introduction: you greet them, identify yourself, and end with a pleasantry. You can do more, of course, but that's the basic outline of it.


So, greetings. These are the 'hellos' and there are just a few to learn.

はじめまして [hajimemamuke]: How do you do (or something to that effect). This is the thing to say first when you first meet someone or introduce yourself to a group of people. The other greetings are ones you wouldn't usually say in the same context, but they're good to know anyway.

ようこそ [youkoso]: Welcome. Obviously you say this when you're welcoming someone and not when you're the visitor/guest (a.k.a. when you're traveling in Japan).

こんにちは [konnichiwa]: hello, good day. This is the standard, all-purpose greeting for someone you've already met. (Note: this is one that everyone's heard of and many have heard wrong. It is not said KO-NEE-CHEE-WA. It's more like CONE-nee-chee-wa. Don't overemphasize each syllable like it's its own word.)

おはよう [ohayou]: (informal) good morning. (Note: only used when greeting, not parting.)

おはようございます [ohayou gozaimasu]: (formal) good morning. (Again, only used when greeting, not parting.)

こんばんは [konbanwa]: good evening

It's best to keep things formal when you don't know someone. If they don't mind speaking casually they'll let you know and it will be no problem. But if they prefer not to get too chummy too quickly then they'll probably be more annoyed if you try to start things casually. Of course for the most part you get to play the foreigner card and people understand you'll make mistakes.

So, Tell Me A Little About Yourself

This is the step where you say who you are. There are lots of little variations on how you can do this, but they all come down to the same things.

わたしは ___ です。 [Watashi wa ___ desu.]: "I'm ___."

わたしは ___ ともうします。 [Watashi wa ___ to moushimasu.]: "I am / I'm called ___." (This is a more formal way of speaking.)

わたしのなまえは ___ です。 [Watashi no namae wa ___ desu.]: "My name is ___."

わたしのなまえは ___ ともうします。 [Watashi no namae wa ___ to moushimasu.]: "My name is ___." (This would probably be more formal than you'd really need to be.)

You can also forgo the beginning わたしは if you like and still remain polite and formal.

___ です。 [ ___ desu.]: "I'm ___."

___ ともうします。 [ ___ to moushimasu.]: "I am / I'm called ___." (This one is still more formal.)

Nice To Meet You

At this stage (unless you're in school and giving your personal introduction to the rest of the class) you'll end the introduction with a pleasantry.

よろしく [yoroshiku]: (informal) "Nice to meet you."

よろしくおねがいします [yoroshiku onegai shimasu]: (formal) "Nice to meet you." (literally it means "please be nice to me")

When speaking this line someone may simply repeat it back to you, but they (or you) may also say:

こちらこそ [kochirakoso]: likewise


So a brief, bare-bones meeting between two people might go something like this:

Person A: はじめまして。わたしはジョンです。 [Hajimemamuke. Watashi wa jon desu.]
Person B: はじめまして。ひろこです。 [Hajimemamuke. Hiroko desu.]
Person A: よろしくおねがいします。 [Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.]
Person B: こちらこそ。 [Kochirakoso.]

Person A: How do you do. I'm John.
Person B: How do you do. I'm Hiroko.
Person A: Nice to meet you.
Person B. Likewise.

Now, if you were giving a personal introduction speech (like if you were an exchange student at a Japanese school) you would give a little more information after your name such as the things you like, where you're from, and so on, but even then you wouldn't necessarily have to (and again people would understand).

A Few Other Notes

It's very common to use honorifics on names in Japanese (さん, ちゃん, くん), but you never use these when referring to yourself.

There are, however, a number of different ways for you to refer to yourself. All of them have the same meaning of "I" or "me", but have different gender connotations.

わたし [watashi]: gender-neutral. The standard word to use.
あたし [atashi]: feminine
ぼく [boku]: masculine, but leaning toward gender-neutral
おれ [ore]: masculine (can be seen as rude)

There are others, but they aren't very common and/or you wouldn't be using them in most cases anyway. Scarf recommends that you use わたし until you feel comfortable and confident with how to use the others without confusing/offending people.
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  1. Old Comment
    Rogue planet's Avatar
    have you ever considered teaching Japanese as a profession?
    Posted February 21st, 2012 at 12:11 PM by Rogue planet Rogue planet is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Esper's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Vendak View Comment
    have you ever considered teaching Japanese as a profession?
    Yes, but I'm not nearly good enough for that. Best I could do is tutor.
    Posted February 21st, 2012 at 2:52 PM by Esper Esper is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Rogue planet's Avatar
    Well maybe there's a different standard over there but no language teachers here are particularly proficient lol
    Posted February 21st, 2012 at 4:52 PM by Rogue planet Rogue planet is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Cello's Avatar
    Thank you so much for these blogs. ;_;
    I've been trying to learn through both Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha (LiveMocha's main Japanese lessons, not a tutor), and they both fail to teach lessons in what I feel to be a proper order.

    By the way, LiveMocha allows you to share lessons like these if i'm not mistaken, so you could take these lessons and help out others like me loads if you wanted. Just in case you don't already know about it.
    Posted February 25th, 2012 at 6:11 AM by Cello Cello is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Alice's Avatar
    Oh, wow. How did I just now notice that you were doing this? I'm gonna have to find some time to catch up.
    Posted February 27th, 2012 at 11:31 AM by Alice Alice is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Esper's Avatar
    Ah, I keep missing people's comments. :<

    I haven't heard of LiveMocha but I'm going to look into it now, thanks.
    Posted March 13th, 2012 at 10:46 AM by Esper Esper is offline

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