Phase One - Extra Credit

10+ Ways to Say “Hello” in Japanese

Key Phrases

konnichiwaこんにちは 
Hello.
ohayougozaimasuおはようございます 
Good morning.
ohayouおはよう 
Good morning.
konbanwaこんばんは 
Good evening.
yoよっ 
Hey.
youよう 
Hey.
ossuおっす 
What's up!
konchiwaこんちわ 
Hey. // Hi. // Hello.
chiwassuちわっす 
Hey. // Hi.
chiissuちーっす 
Yo.
harooハロー 
Hello.
Hello, hi, hey, howdy, and yo!The first word for “hello” in Japanese that most of us learn is:
konnichiwa こんにちは。 

Hello.

hello
But are you sure that you're pronouncing it correctly?Are you using it at the right times? Because many foreign speakers of Japanese are not.

How do you pronounce konnichiwaこんにちは ?

If you’ve been studying Japanese for a while, then there is a good chance that you know the word for “today,” which is kyou今日きょう.kyouきょう  is an irregular reading of kyou今日きょう. But it is also possible for the reading of konnichi今日こんにち to be konnichiこんにち , as in this sentence:
konnichi今日こんにちdewaでは denpou電報でんぽうwa amariあまり tsuka使つかwarenaiわれない   

Telegrams are rarely used nowadays.

todaydewatelegramwanot muchbe used
This sounds like written language, as is often the case with the konnichiこんにち  reading of konnichi今日こんにち (as opposed to kyouきょう ).
konnichi今日こんにち is pronounced konnichiこんにち  when we are talking about “today” in a more general sense. That is, it means something like “these days,” “nowadays,” etc. That was not always the case, though, as you’ll see below.First, let’s talk about the pronunciation of konnichiwaこんにちは  — in particular, the difference in intonation between the konnichiこんにち  you see above and konnichiwaこんにちは .In the former (i.e. the meaning of “these days,” “nowadays,” etc.) the pitch drops after the initial ko  sound:Pitch accent chart coming soon.But in the greeting konnichiwaこんにちは , which means “hello,” we would maintain a consistent pitch throughout the entire phrase (i.e. it does not go up or down):Pitch accent chart coming soon.That might seem like a really intimidating thing to be worrying about when pronouncing Japanese. Luckily, if you’re listening closely to how Japanese people are speaking, you should develop a natural ear for pitch over time, especially if you’re using our shadow loops.

What does konnichiwaこんにちは  really mean?

A long time in the past, konnichiこんにち  actually just meant “today,” so saying konnichi今日こんにちwa  back then would be like saying kyou今日きょうwa  in modern Japanese.
In case you didn’t already know this, wa  (pronounced wa in this case and not ha) is a topic-marking particle in Japanese.
Because of this, you would have heard konnichi今日こんにちwa  quite a bit back then in everyday language in sentences like these:
konnichi今日こんにちwa go kigen機嫌きげんikagaいかが desuです ka か? 

How are you today?

todaywawell-beinghowdesuka
This is outdated language.
konnichi今日こんにちwa ii tenki天気てんきdesuです ne ね。 

The weather is nice today, isn’t it?

todaywagoodweatherdesune
This is outdated language.
Nobody wants to be saying super-long phrases when they are just trying to greet someone. Accordingly, it is believed that those greetings got shortened to just konnichiwaこんにちは  over time, and it took on the meaning of “hello.”
This also explains why the wa  in konnichiwaこんにちは  is being pronounced wa and not ha — because it’s coming from the particle wa You may also see people writing wa  at the end of the word, even though this is technically incorrect: konnichiwaこんにちわ .

The Correct Usage of konnichiwaこんにちは 

If you’re feeling extra lazy, yeah, just go around saying konnichiwaこんにちは  any time you want to say “hello” to someone.It would be a bit better, though, if you were careful about when you were using it.If you use konnichiwaこんにちは  with everyone and at any time, your Japanese will sound a bit unnatural.Most importantly, I want to point out that konnichiwaこんにちは  is not something that you would say to someone that you are on close terms with. Friends and family don’t really use it with each other, and you wouldn’t normally use it when strolling into the workplace and seeing your coworkers, either.Instead, konnichiwaこんにちは  is a phrase you use with strangers, neighbors — people you don’t intimately know or have regular close interaction with.Timing is important, too. If it’s morning, go with this instead:
ohayougozaimasu おはようございます。 

Good morning.

good morning
I love going for long walks in Japan. Do it in the morning, and eventually some nice old lady will hit you with one of these greetings, and it’ll be a feels-good moment, I promise you.In English, we often say, “hello” or “good morning” in the morning, but in Japan they’re a bit more clearly separated.Oh, and if you’re talking to a friend or family member, you can also drop the gozaimasuございます  off the end to make it more casual:
ohayou おはよう。 

Good morning.

good morning
Unlike konnichiwaこんにちは , the phrase ohayouおはよう  is commonly used with people you’re on close terms with, like family and friends.
If it’s evening, opt for:
konbanwa こんばんは。 

Good evening.

good evening
Like konnichiwaこんにちは , the phrase konbanwa こんばんは。  is not commonly used with people you’re on close terms with, like family and friends.

Slang for saying “hello” in Japanese

All of the phrases below are playful, slang versions of “hello” in Japanese. These are very casual, so don’t go saying them to your boss!To be perfectly honest, I only rarely say any of these, but I do hear them every once in a while…
yo よっ。 

Hey.

hey
you よう。 

Hey.

hey
ossu おっす。 

What's up!

what's up
This was probably the first slang I ever learned in Japanese. To my disappointment, I’ve only heard a few Japanese friends actually using it..
A lot of “slang” for “hello” in Japanese are just shortened versions of the word konnichiwaこんにちは . For example...
konchiwa こんちわ。 

Hey. // Hi. // Hello.

hello
And then we can make that shorter...
chiwassu ちわっす。 

Hey. // Hi.

hey
ssu っす  is a contracted form of desuです . It has a messier, rougher nuance than the full desuです . It doesn’t sound very professional, for example.
And shorter…
chiissu ちーっす。 

Yo.

yo
Or just give up and start using English…
haroo ハロー。 

Hello.

hello
Try saying one of these slang versions sometime. Then when you get laughed at, you can wonder if it’s because your pronunciation is off or because it just seems silly that a foreigner is using slang.

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