Top 10 Words to Start Speaking Japanese Now

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This out list of the top 10 words to start speaking Japanese now. Japanese is an easy language to start learning, and fun to continue practising along the way. However, it is definitely one of the most difficult to master too. We already have our post that looks at some of the basics of the language. Yet, we also wanted to provide a list of some of the most common words to help launch you straight into talking. So, here to help you are our top 10 words to start speaking Japanese now:

You may be interested in our other posts on which you can find in our Japanese Tips section.

1. こんにちは (Konnichi wa)

The main greeting of the Japanese language literally means ‘hello’. It can be used any time of the day as a general opener. There are other specific greetings like おはよう (Ohayou) for ‘Good Morning’ or こんばんは (Konban wa) ‘Good Evening’. Some people even use ハロー (Haroo) ‘Hello’ as a simple greeting. However, Konnichi wa will suffice if you forget the rest.

At the end of a day, or towards the evening, you can use おやすみなさい (Oyasumi Nasai) for ‘good night’ too.

If you’re interested in our FAQs Section, you can check our Life in Japan FAQ or our Exploring Japan FAQ.

2. ありがとう (Arigatou)

The basic ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ of the Japanese language. You may find yourself saying it more than you would in English, basically because Japanese is such a highly respectful culture. You can make it more formal by adding ございます (Gozaimasu) to the end.

3. おいしい (Oishii)

If you love Japanese food, then this is killer saying to use, plus it shows respect to the cook. If you wish to express this adjective in the past-tense, then you can simply say おいしかった (Oishikatta). There is also the more informal word of うまい (Umai) which can be used in the same context. However, うまい (Umai) can also mean skilful or talented, ie – you are talented at something.

4. すごい (Sugoi)

This can be used in a few different ways, but generally means ‘great’ or ‘amazing’ or ‘impressive’. The word can also be conjugated into the adverb すごく (Sugoku) meaning very. So, when combined with another adjective it can heighten the intensity immensely.

5. かわいい (Kawaii)

Thos familiar with Japan has no doubt heard this word meaning ‘cute’. Part of Japan’s younger female generation Kawaii Culture, which is all the rage at the moment. Anything vaguely cute, pretty interesting can be labelled ‘Kawaii’ so keep your peels for the expression. Some people tend to also use キュート (Kyuuto) similar to the word ‘cute’ for variety.

6. さむい (Samui)

The word used to express ‘cold’ weather, you will start to hear it as early as Autumn/Fall, through the entire winter and until late Spring. The cold season does last quite a while in Japan, and that’s the result of people complaining about the weather. The past-tense of the adjective is 寒かった (Samukatta). Not to be confused with the word つめたい (Tsumetai), which describes something cold to touch or taste. In later levels, you will also learn that さむい can be used to express your disappointment with a joke, especially the lame ones.

7. あつい (Atsui)

This word is used to describe hot weather, and it’s particularly common around June to October. The hot season in Japan is quite short, but very uncomfortable due to the high humidity levels. Not to be confused with the same term used to describe thickness, for specific objects like books. The Kanjis are different so it’s easy to determine, once you get to the higher levels of reading Chinese characters. At that time, you should be able to easily distinguish these characters. The past tense is expressed as あつかった (atsukatta).

8. おもしろい (Omoshiroi)

The meaning of this can change depending on the situation, but usually, it’s either ‘funny’ or ‘interesting’ or even both at the same time. In the past-tense, the word is conjugated to form 面白かった (Omoshirokatta).

9. 元気 (げんき or Genki)

This is a single word that has a few different meanings depending on the situation but mostly relates to your well being or physical condition. It can be used as a question like ‘genki?’ or ‘How are you?’. It can also be used as the answer, ie ‘genki desu’ or ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m good’. It can also be used to talk about health, for example, ‘Genki jyanai’ means I’m not feeling so well. You can also talk about energy levels, if you are talking about someone who is fit or even an energetic child you can say ‘sugoku genki’, to mean they have a lot of energy.

10. よろしく (Yoroshiku)

Basically, the two most common meanings are ‘please to meet you’ or ‘please be kind to me’. When you first learn this phrase at the start of your studies it is introduced as more of a greeting or self-introduction. Yet, this phrase is quite versatile and can be used across a varierty of situations. If you wish to make the phrase more formal, you can add おねがいします (Onegai shimasu) to the end.

So what other words do you think are helpful for people first learning Japanese? What was the first word you remember in the language. If this post was helpful or not we want to hear from you in the comments section!

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