Basic Japanese Vocabulary for Beginners

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Japanese vocabulary for beginners

In the first few episodes of our Basic Japanese course, I will try to focus on forming a vocabulary basics of the Japanese language.

Basic Japanese Vocabulary for Beginners

Many more advanced students can skip this phase without any problem, as long as they already know most of the expressions below.

Hover your mouse cursor over Japanese letters to see their pronunciation and translation.

はい - Yea

いいえ - No

おはよう - Good Morning

おはようございます – Good morning (more formal)

こんにちは - Hello or good afternoon

こんばんは - Goodnight

お休みなさい - Goodnight

お休みなさい it is mostly used when we are going to sleep or rest. It's a nice way to say goodbye.

An interesting thing about the greetings above, is that each of them has a specific time to be used.

おはよう – It is usually used between the beginning of the day and 11:00 in the morning.

こんにちは – When it means “Good afternoon”, it is used from 11:00 to 06:00 at night.

こんばんは – It is usually used from 06:00 at night until the beginning of the other day.

どうも - Thanks.

ありがとう - Thanks

どうもありがとう - Thank you very much

どうもありがとうございます - Thank you very much

The four words above are used for the same purpose, but in very different situations. Depending on the level of formality of the conversation, certain words are preferred.

どうも – An extremely informal way. Use only among friends.

ありがとう – An informal mode, but of general use.

どうもありがとう – A formal, general-purpose mode.

どうもありがとうございます – That word of emphasis on thanksgiving and formality.

お願いします- Please.

すみません - I'm sorry, I'm sorry

ごめんなさい- I'm sorry, I'm sorry

お元気ですか? - How is it going? Or How are you?

はい、元気です。おかげさまで。 - Yes I'm fine. Thanks for asking.

はじめまして – Nice to meet you, or How are you?

私の名前はパウロです。- My name is Paulo.

The expression 私の名前はパウロです。 is usually used as a sentence pattern to say your name in Japanese. It consists of three parts:

私の名前は - My name

パウロ – The proper name phonetically transcribed to katakana.

です – An auxiliary of formality that can be translated as our verb to be or to be.

To say your name in Japanese, just transcribe it in katakana and replace the highlighted word with your name transcribed in katakana.


よろしくお願いします – Pleasure to meet you or Delighted to meet you.

あなたの名前は何ですか? - What is your name?

こちらこそ - The pleasure is all mine or I'm glad to meet you too.

どういたしまして - Nothing or have it.

いらっしゃいませ - Welcome.

やった! - That! I got it!

おめでとうございます。 - Congratulations!

A plain Japanese text

Using the vocabulary above, we can read, write and engage in very simple conversations. Look at the short text below and see if you can read and understand what has been written without looking at the vocabulary above.


おはよう ございます。







Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji and copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice  by clicking on the Generate button, a new window will open where you will be able to see the file for printing. Then just print the symbols and try to write it yourself. Just print and practice!