Five everyday Japanese expressions to know


Om Khandekar

Japanese is a very complex and widely spoken language, with 125 million speakers around the world. Due to Japan’s global presence, being able to speak Japanese is a useful tool. Here are five basic Japanese expressions that are very useful to have in your arsenal of Japanese words. Hover over the text below to hear Japanese National Honors Society officers juniors Jadon Bienz, JNHS member Christopher Liou and Japanese club officer Ginga Sato pronounce these terms.

Japanese 3 Basic Expressions
The Japanese classes teach varying levels of basic expressions in each class, shown here as basic expressions from the Japanese 3 class. These few expressions are commonly used by Japanese speakers.

English: Otearai ni ittemo iidesuka?
Pronounced: Oh-tee-ah-rai ni i-tey-mo Ee-des-ka
Translation: Ask anybody taking Japanese at MVHS. This phrase is the most used at any level, literally meaning, “May I go to the restroom!” When nature calls, this is the phrase to know.

English: Sumimasen
Pronounced: Soo-mee-ma-sen
Translation: Bumped into somebody in one of the most densely populated countries in the world? Just say sumimasen! Sumimasen is a versatile phrase, translating to “Excuse me” but the word can become a greeting or just mean sorry.

English: Jyouzu!
Pronounced: Joe-u-zu!
Translation: This one is popular amongst the JNHS club of MVHS. Jouzu is taught as a way of conjugating sentences and has turned into a catchphrase to show appreciation. Quite literally, it translates to “To be skilled at.

English: Arigatou Gozaimasu
Pronounced: Ah-ree-ga-toh Go-zai-mas
Translation: One of the most used phrases in Japan due to cultural emphasis on politeness, the phrase literally means “Thank you