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Common Japanese Words

Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Common Japanese Words | 317 comments

japanese-words


Words are the building blocks of language. In order to have any type of conversation in Japanese, you will need to know a certain amount of Japanese words. The more Japanese words you know, the more you will be able to communicate. However, it’s not just the number of Japanese words that’s important, but also which ones.

When most people think of learning the Japanese language, they think of the years of hard work they will need to put in. The majority of people consider this hard work and the amount of time it will take to reach fluency, and decide it’s impossible. Having studied Japanese and language learning for over 9 years, I have heard quite a few people say they could never do it. However, learning a new language, even one like Japanese, isn’t as difficult and doesn’t take as long as most people think. In fact, with diligent study and the right materials, I believe someone can have a level of fluency within a matter of months.

The Japanese language has hundreds of thousands of words, but it is only a small fraction of those words that makes up the majority of both  the spoken and written language. Since the written words and spoken words will be slightly different, and because most of your communication in Japanese will be spoken, the quickest way to gain fluency is to learn the most commonly spoken Japanese words and phrases.

The key is too choose the right materials. I have used literally dozens of Japanese books and most of them have one common problem, they are full of Japanese words and situational phrases that you don’t need to know. Most also focus too much on learning to say things a proper way. This is great for someone who wants to learn proper Japanese, but will slow down someone who wants to gain conversational fluency. Also, don’t be afraid to use use materials such as comic books, tv shows, and movies. The latter two not only allow you to learn commonly used Japanese words, but practice your listening as well.

Below I have created a short list of some of the most common and most helpful Japanese words. These are words that should definitely be in a Japanese learners vocabulary and will especially be helpful for someone planning to visit Japan. Note that this list is by no means comprehensive or complete, but should help you get around when you visit Japan. In addition to the words listed here, I highly recommend that you study as many common Japanese phrases as possible. Learning common Japanese phrases will help you to better communicate and also to put words in context.

You can also find a much larger list containing 1000+ Japanese words in a downloadable pdf format at the below link.

Japanese words list

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Common Japanese Words

English Japanese Japanese
Me, I watashi わたし
Me, I (for males boku ぼく
Yes hai はい
No iie いいえ
What nani なに
Name namae なまえ
Nice to meet you Hajimemashite はじめまして
want to go to~ ~ni ikitai 〜に いきたい
want to eat~ ~wo tabetai 〜を たべたい
want to drink~ ~wo nomitai 〜を のみたい
water omizu おみず
can’t eat~ ~wo taberarenai 〜を たべられない
excuse me/sorry sumimasen すみません
thank you arigatou gozaimasu ありがとうございます
want to buy~ ~wo kaitai 〜を かいたい
want to see~ ~wo mitai 〜を みたい
sorry gomen nasai ごめん なさい
good morning ohayougozaimasu おはようございます
good afternoon konnichi wa こんにちは
good evening konnban wa こんばんは
how are you? ogenki desu ka おげんき です か
I’m fine genki desu げんき です
taxi takushii タクシー
hotel hoteru ホテル
train densha でんしゃ
station eki えき
hospital byouin びょういん
where is~ ~wa doko 〜は どこ
bathroom otearai おてあらい
ticket kippu きっぷ
money okane おかね
bank ginkou ぎんこう
police keisatsu けいさつ
How much? ikura いくら
plane hikouki ひこうき
foreigner gaijin がいじん
Japan nihon にほん
Japanese nihonjin

にほんじん

person hito ひと
hurts itai いたい

25 Other Helpful Japanese Words

noon ohiru おひる
morning asa あさ
evening yoru よる
meal gohan ごはん
play asobu あそぶ
listen kiku きく
expensive takai たかい
half hanbun はんぶん
cheap yasui やすい
room heya へや
art museum bijutsukan びじゅつかん
park koen こうえん
zoo doubutsuen どうぶつえん
express train kaisoku かいそく
subway chikatetsu ちかてつ
car kuruma くるま
close chikai ちかい
far toi とおい
tasty oishii おいしい
spacious hiroi ひろい
narrow semai せまい
warm atatakai あたたかい
cold samui さむい
bright akarui あかるい
dark kurai くらい

Numbers and Time

One ichi いち
Two ni
Three san さん
Four shi
Five go
Six roku ろく
Seven shichi しち
Eight hachi はち
Nine ku
Ten juu じゅう
One hundred hyaku
One thousand sen せん
Ten thousand man まん
Time jikan じかん
~O’clock ji
Fall aki あき
Winter fuyu ふゆ
Spring haru はる
Summer natsu なつ
Monday getsuyoubi げつようび
Tuesday kayoubi かようび
Wednesday suiyoubi すいようび
Thursday mokuyoubi もくようび
Friday kinyoubi きんようび
Saturday doyoubi どようび
Sunday nichiyoubi にちようび
weekend shuumatsu しゅうまつ
vacation, rest yasumi やすみ

317 Comments

  1. avatar

    verry good lession i like so mch so i want lern mor words among that lession

  2. avatar

    thank you so much publized this website because I got more things in this site and I could be good japenes speaker.thank you so much and I kindly wish you

  3. avatar

    watashi ni ikitai Japan too.. ♥

  4. avatar

    hi ilike to learn japanese

  5. avatar

    Hi ….
    can you please post also “how to build japanese sentences and paragraphs”?
    because i always hear different japanese words from the same english word

  6. avatar

    i like japanese its so cool

  7. avatar

    verry good lession i like so mch so i want lern mor words among that lession

  8. avatar

    i want learn more japanese language…can u pls post more!thanks…

  9. avatar

    I want 2 go to Japan and i need to learn more about their language so that i don’t go crazy and get lost.

  10. avatar

    kunichiwa yuru desu honto wa i like more japanese langauge.

  11. avatar

    hi wanna learn more japanese words. thanks~

  12. avatar

    ありがとうございます,

  13. avatar

    i like oo speak a japanese

  14. avatar

    Maybe you could include both Kana and Kanji writings for each word? That would be great — I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to learning as much common words as possible, along with their kanjis.

  15. avatar

    Thank yoy very much! It’s amazing site!

  16. avatar

    Greg : Satoo-san, hiru-gohan ni ikimasen ka?
    Satoo : Ee, ikimashoo.
    Greg : Nani o tabemashoo ka?
    Satoo : Soo desu ne … Greg-san wa?
    Greg : Uun … Raamen wa doo desu ka?
    Satoo : Watashi wa kinoo Raamen o tabeta kara, hoka no mono ga ii.
    Greg : Ja, Karee wa?
    Satoo : Ii desu ne. Karee o tabemashoo.

    in English translation ****
    Greg : Satoo-san, why don’t we go and have lunch together?
    Satoo : Yes, let’s.
    Greg : What shall we have (to eat)?
    Satoo : Oh well…what do you fancy?
    Greg : Hum…how about raamen?
    Satoo : I had raamen yesterday, so I would rather have something else.
    Greg : Curry, then?
    Satoo : That’ll be nice. Let’s have curry, then.

  17. avatar

    I hope it helps you more in practicing…

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