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Chapter 2: Greetings - Japanese Tutor
Learning Japanese is Fun, I say
Chapter 2: Greetings

Chapter 2: Greetings

: Ninomiya-san, ohayou gozaimasu.
Ninomiya: Ohno-san, ohayou gozaimasu.
Ohno: Kyoo wa ii (o)tenki desu ne!
Ninomiya: Honto ni ii (o)tenki desu ne!
Ohno: Ogenki desu ka.
Ninomiya: Hai, okagesama de genki desu.
Ohno-san mo ogenki desu ka.
Ohno: Hai, okagesama de (ogenki desu).
Ninomiya: gakkou wa doo desu ka.
Ohno: Totemo tanoshii desu.
Ninomiya: Kurasu wa omoshiroi desu ka?
Ohno: Hai, totemo omoshiroi desu.
Ninomiya: Sore wa yokatta desu ne!
Jya, mata ne.
Ohno: Jya mata.
Ninomiya: Sayounara.
Ohno: Sayounara.


Alright! After a long break, I finally updated! I’m sorry it’s been so long. I just didn’t expect a lot of people to read this and say that they actually learned a lot =D I’m so happy…. Thank you everyone who commented!

At any rate, moving on. These two dashing people are Ohno and Ninomiya from the awesome boy band Arashi. They’re just so cute, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s the translation]:


Ohno: Good morning Mr. Ninomiya.
Ninomiya: Good morning, Mr. Ohno.
Ohno: Today is a nice day, isn’t it?
Ninomiya: It really is a nice day, isn’t it?
Ohno: How are you? (literally, “Are you well?”;)
Ninomiya: Yes, thank you for asking, (I’m all right).
How is school?
Ohno: It is really fun/enjoyable.
Ninomiya: Are [your] classes interesting?
Ohno: Yes, they are very interesting.
Ninomiya: That‘s good to hear.
Well, I’ll see you later.
Ohno: See you later.
Ninomiya: Good bye.
Ohno: Good bye.

Ninomiya and Ohno met by chance, let’s say, on a train. They of course begin by greeting each other good morning, and then moves on to ask about the weather. In Japan, being a small island, weather is highly important, so it’s natural for them to inquire about the weather as a conversation starter. In English, our fixed set phrase would be “How are you?“ “I’m fine, thank you.“ In Japan, it’s to inquire about the weather and then ask the other person’s well being.

If you did or did not notice, I put the “O” in () when I wrote (o)tenki. This is because the “O” before a word makes it polite. Tenki by itself means weather, but when talking to someone, depending on who it is, you most probably would want to be polite and put the honorific O in the front. If you look closely:

Ohno: (o)genki desu ka. (are you well?)
Ninomiya: Hai, okagesama de, genki desu. (Yes, thank you for asking, I‘m alright.)

Ninomiya does not say ogenki because he is talking about himself. Like tenki, genki is a word by itself, which means “good”. Because Ohno is inquiring about Ninomiya’s health, he exalts him and uses the honorific prefix “o”, and when Ninomiya answers, in order not to put an honorific on himself, drops the “o”.

They then talk about Ohno’s class, whether it’s fun and interesting, and then both goes on their own ways.


*In English, our sentences are constructed in a Subject Verb Object position. For example:

I am reading a book.
[The subject is I, the verb is reading, and book is an object].

In Japanese, this is reversed. Japanese language is in a Subject Object Verb position. Meaning:

(watashi wa) hon o yomimasu.
[The subject is watashi, although oftentimes people would leave it out because it is implied that you are the subject when you don’t say so. The object is hon, marked by the particle o, and the verb is yomimasu.]

*Ohayou gozaimasu- Good morning.
Some people would write ‘ohayoo’, which is not wrong, per se, but that’s not exactly how you would write it in hiragana. The “u” is used in the end. I guess some people would find it somewhat difficult to pronounce a word that ends in “ou” without making it sound like “o-ha-you (as in English ‘you’;). It is pronounced o-ha-yoh go-za-i-mas. The “u” at the end is silent, and that goes for desu as well, although some girls would strongly enunciate the ‘u’ at the end to sound more feminine and cute.

*~san- Is an honorific suffix that does not imply any component of gender. You can add that to a Ms./Mrs./Mr. Contrary to what some people believe, especially those who typically watch anime and can now recognize and use some Japanese words but don’t have a complete understanding of its essence (just like how I was before I took Japanese class), these honorific suffixes technically have no implications of the person’s gender.

~chan is a suffix used as a term for endearment. It is also usually, but not necessarily, reserved for girls because it makes them sound cute. So basically, you usually should only use this if you’re really close to them, regardless whether they are a boy or a girl, younger or older. In terms of politeness, it’s pretty low, so use this only for the people you know won’t be offended by it. For those of you who know Arashi, this would be a great example. There was a scene where Ohno and Nakai from SMAP were “arguing”. One of these arguments was that Ohno deliberately calls Nakai, who’s his senpai (someone older, or with a higher rank), as Nakai-chan. Nakai gets “angry” and says, “who are you calling Nakai-chan? Only the executives at Fuji TV can call me that,” which proves another point that if they’re your boss, people would usually let themselves be called as something-chan because they‘re of a superior position.

~kun is usually used for boys, although like ~chan, it is just a term of endearment without any technical implication of gender. As for politeness rank, it’s a step up from ~chan. All members of Arashi call each other by ~kun, at least in their casual TV shows, with the exception of Aiba, whom everyone seem to usually call as Aiba-chan (since his personality is so childish and they’re all expressing his endearment to them). In Fruits Basket, Shigure calls Tohru as Tohru-kun, while Kagura who becomes a close friend to Tohru calls her Tohru-chan. Others like Yuki, who is more reserved and respectful towards her calls her by her last name, Honda-san. By listening to this closely, you’ll be able to tell a lot about people’s relationship with each other, and it’s always very interesting to me to see what kinds of suffixes they affix to people they’re talking to.

*[anata wa] ogenki desu ka- literally meaning “Are you well/in good health?”. The Japanese do not naturally say an equivalent of ‘how are you’, which is ‘ikaga desu ka’ because they think it’s more of an English way, though others don’t have any objection to this expression.
Anata wa is not said because it is implied that you are talking about the person whom you are talking to, otherwise, if you want to inquire about someone else, let’s say Ohno-san wanted to ask Ninomiya-san about their other friend, Sho-san, then he would say to Nino-san, “Sho-san wa, ogenki desu ka.”

*doo in [kurasu wa doo desu ka]- doo, just like ikaga, means “how”. Ikaga is just more polite, so when asking about someone’s health, they tend to use ikaga. It depends on the subject you’re talking about. For example, remember the first tutorial about the particles always marking whatever goes before it? In this case, wa is marking kurasu, so kurasu is our topic. When asking the other for their health, “[anata wa] ikaga desu ka”, our topic is anata, so it is natural we would want to use the polite form.
Going back to the “o” honorific prefix, we add it depending on our topic. Since weather is a big deal in Japan, we say otenki at all times to honor the weather. Ogenki, if talking about the other person, is exalted because we honor the other person--but if your topic is yourself, you wouldn’t want to use the honorary prefix because you want to humble yourself. Ocha is another one of those things that Japanese honor. Cha by itself means tea, but we say ocha because it is important. Don’t go putting the honorary prefix on everything, though! I didn’t figure out what sorts of words you could use that on, so… haha…

*Okagesamade- meaning ‘thanks to the favors of others’ or ‘fortunately’. It implies a good answer that says the speaker is fine. The most common way to reply to ‘ogenki desu ka’ or ‘ikaga desu ka’ is to say, “Okagesamade, genki desu.” Sometimes you don’t even have to say genki desu. Okagesamade by itself already tells them that you are well.

*Jya mata- jya is a contracted form of dewa, just like how “isn’t” is a contracted form of “is not”. Contracted forms are less formal, as you probably can tell by saying isn’t and is not. The choice of style that you use to talk depends on many factors such as: circumstances (are you close friends, or business co-workers?), age (are you older or younger?) sex (boys would generally talk to girls differently than they would to guys their age, if they’re gentlemanly enough ^~^), and social status (are you their boss, or someone’s secretary?) etc. Usually in classrooms, students say Jya to each other, and it is true in most social occasions even among adults.
Mata means “again.” Literally, jya mata would mean, “then again”, but that’s just how they say “see you later.”

*Sayounara- (again, it is not sa-you-na-ra, but rather sa-yoh-nah-rah). It means goodbye, but this is formal and usually means that you probably won’t be seeing the other person again tomorrow. For example, Ohno-san just happened to meet Ninomiya-san by chance--they don’t see each other very often, so it is natural to hear them say sayounara to each other. If, on the other hand, Ninomiya-san and Ohno-san live together, or they go to the same work place together and see each other every day, sayounara wouldn’t be practical. If you say that to a family member, or someone you see often, it would mean that you are going away and wouldn’t be seeing them for a long while.

*kyou [kyo-oh]- today
*(o)tenki [o-teng-ki]- weather
*(o)genki [o-geng-ki]- in good health
*gakkou [gak-koh]- school
*kurasu [ku-ra-su]- class (this is written in katakana)

*ii [long E sound, as in see]- good (colloquial form of yoi)
* tanoshii [at-noh-shii]- fun/enjoyable
*omoshiroi [oh-moh-shi-roy]- interesting/fun
*yokatta [yok-kat-tah]- something was good (past form of ii)


*mo holds the meaning of “also” or “too”. This cannot be used as an independent word to mean “also” because it is only a particle. As with the other particles, this one will always define the word before it.

Watashi wa genki desu. Ogenki desu ka.
Hai, watashi mo genki desu.

Notice that mo replaced ‘wa’ as a subject marker. It’s because this time, you want to say that the subject is also alright.

Nihongo ga wakarimasu.
Sou ka? Watashi mo nihongo ga wakarimasu.


Other greetings you may say:
* Konnichiwa [kon-ni-chi-wah]- good afternoon, or hello.
* Kombanwa [kom-ban-wah]- good evening.
*Dewa mata- more polite form of Jya mata.
* Oyasuminasai -[oh-yah-su-mi-na-sai]- good night. When you’re about to sleep. ~nasai makes it polite, so people usually just say to their friends or siblings, ‘oyasumi’.
*maa maa desu [mah- mah- des]- I’m so so/ Not bad, thank you


PHEW! Long haul, this one. For those of you who liked this, I’m also uploading hiragana tutorials. Check those out as well =D

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Current Music: Oh Yeah! by Arashi

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