How to say simple phrases in Japanese

Learning a new language can be a lot fun. When you learn a language you indirectly learn something about the culture of that language. Here are some very simple phrases to help you get started. By the end of this article you should be able to say hello, introduce yourself, count to one hundred, apologise, say thank you and tell people you don’t understand Japanese.


Good morning: Ohayou Goziamasu  

Good afternoon: Konnichiwa

Good evening: Konbanwa

With Kon-ichi-wa and kon-ban-wa, nichi is the Japanese word for day and ban is the Japanese word for night

Introduce yourself

Nice to meet you:  Ha ji me ma shi te

This literally means, ‘for the first time.’ It can be used in a polite situation and also in an informal one

My name is :  Watashi wa desu

 For example, Watashi wa Mike desu. A slightly less formal way to say this would be Mike desu

Desu is equivalent to the English, ‘To be.’

It’s a pleasure to meet you: Yo-ro-shi-ku  On-e-ga-i  Shi-masu

The phrase literally means, ‘please be good to me.’ When my friend introduced me to his wife, he said to me, ‘please be good to her.’ I thought this was a strange thing to say why would I be anything but nice to her? However now that I understand more about Japanese language and culture, I understand it is a common greeting that corresponds roughly to, ‘it is a pleasure to meet you,’ in English.


1 Ichi

2 Ni

3 San

4 Shi / Yon

5 Go

6 Roku

7 Shichi / Nana

8 Hachi

9 Kyu

10 Jyu

If you can memorise these ten numbers then you can easily work out the rest of the numbers up to the number ninety-nine.


Eleven is ten plus one         Jyu-ichi

Twelve is ten plus two        Jyu-ni

Thirteen is ten plus three    Jyu-san

Fourteen is ten plus four     Jyu-Yon (use Yon instead of Shi in modern Japanese)

Fifteen is ten plus five        Jyu-go

When you get to twenty It is two tens Ni-jyu

Twenty one is two tens plus one… Ni-jyu-ichi

Twenty five would be two tens plus five Ni-jyu-go

Thirty would be three tens San-jyu

Forty would be Yon-jyu

All the way up to ninety-nine, which is Kyu-jyu-kyu

One hundred is Hyaku


I am sorry Gomennasai

Excuse me Sumimasen 

Basic questions

When?  Itsu?

Where? Doko?

What?   Nani?

Who?   Dare?

Why?   Naze?

How? Doushite

Thanking people

Thank you  Arigatou gozaimasu

Useful phrase for a beginner

I don’t understand Japanese  Nihongo wakari masen

Nihongo means Japanese wakari is the word for understand and masen negates it

Say Goodbye

 Goodbye: Sayonara

So that is it, my basic introduction to simple Japanese phrases I hope you found it useful and you will continue to learn more of this beautiful language.

Arigatou Gozaimasu and Sayonara.