'Good Morning' and Other Common Japanese Greetings

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Ohayou Gozaimasu (Good Morning)

Saying "good morning" in Japanese

Japanese people greet each other in many different ways depending on the time of day. As with other common Japanese greetings, how you say "good morning" to someone will depend on your relationship.

For example, if you're speaking to a friend or in a similar casual situation, you would use the word "ohayou" (おはよう). However, if you were on your way into the office and ran into your boss or another superior, you'd want to use "ohayou gozaimasu" (おはようございます). This is a more formal greeting.

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Konnichiwa (Good Afternoon)

Konnichiwa (Hello/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 used to 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?”

 

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Konbanwa (Good Evening)

Konbanwa (Good evening)

Just as you'd 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 fashion, though it also used to be part of a larger and more formal greeting.

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Oyasuminasai (Good Night)

Oyasuminasai (Good night)

Unlike wishing someone a good morning or evening, saying "good night" in Japanese is not considered a greeting. Instead, as in English, you would say "oyasuminasai" (おやすみなさい) to someone before you go to bed. "Oyasumi" (おやすみ) also can be used.

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Sayonara (Goodbye)

Sayonara (Good-bye)

The Japanese have several phrases for saying "goodbye" and they're all used in different situations. "Sayounara" (さようなら) or "sayonara" (さよなら) are the two most common forms. However, you would only use those when bidding farewell to someone you won't see again for some time, such as friends leaving on a vacation.

If you're just leaving for work and saying bye to your roommate, you would use the word "ittekimasu" (いってきます) instead. Your roommate's informal reply would be "itterasshai" (いってらっしゃい).

The phrase "dewa mata" (ではまた)  is also often used very informally, similar to saying "see you later" in English. You could also tell your friend you'll see them tomorrow with the phrase "mata ashita" (また明日).