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Grammar detail: Japanese greetings

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Japanese greetings
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Japanese has many ways for people to greet each other. Often several alternatives will work for a situation, but certain phrases have more specific uses.

Saying hello

When seeing a person for the first time in a day, the most common greeting depends on the time of day:
おはようございますGood morning (the less formal version is just おはよう)
こんにちはGood day (note: the は is pronounced 'wa', as with the particle)
こんばんはGood evening
Although each of these greetings could be translated as the English 'hello' (which could be used any number of times a day with the same person), in Japanese you would typically not use the same greeting twice. On seeing somebody again, you could say 'またこんにちは', or more commonly 'どうも'.
Other common greetings on bumping into people include:
ひさ
しぶり(です)
long time no see (on seeing a person for the first time in a while)
げんき
ですか
how are you?

Meeting people

On meeting a person for the very first time, the standard greeting is はじめまして (pleased to meet you). This is typically followed by some form of どうぞよろしくお
ねが
いします, which literally means something like 'please be kind to me', but is used as a set phrase. よろしくお
ねが
いします comes from よろしく, the adverbial form of よろしい (good), plus ねがう (to entreat).
どうぞよろしくお
ねが
いします is a flexible phrase with many variations:
  • It can be made less formal by omitting the どうぞ (to make よろしくお
    ねが
    いします), or the お
    ねが
    いします (to make どうぞよろしく), or even very informally by omitting both (to make just よろしく).
  • It can be made more formal by using the polite form of する, いたす, to make どうぞよろしくお
    ねが
    いた
    します.
  • For the absolute politest version of all (addressing somebody extremely senior, or in front of a large group), the humble form can be used: どうぞ、よろしくお
    ねが
    もう
    げます.

Saying goodbye

さようならgoodbye (with a hint of finality)
さき
しつれい
します
said when leaving first (literally 'I'm being rude by leaving ahead of you')
さき
にどうぞ
please go ahead
つか
さま
でした
said to a person leaving or finishing some task (literally 'you must be tired')
じゃ(また)see you
また
あした
see you tomorrow
やす
みなさい
good night

Going out and coming back

Japanese also has a number of set expressions used when leaving (eg an office or a house) or returning.
いってきますI'll be back (literally 'I go, and come')
いってらっしゃいcome back soon (the standard response to いってきます)
をつけてください
please take care (might be said if the person is going somewhere that requires it)
ただいまI'm back
おかえりなさいwelcome back
すみませんexcuse me (used as way to excuse oneself from a situation, such as a meeting). Informally, this is commonly pronounced すいません

Weather related expressions

いい
てんき
ですね
nice weather, isn't it?
あついですねit's hot, isn't it?
さむいですねit's cold, isn't it?

Other useful greetings

おめでとう(ございます)congratulations
にしないでください
please don't mention it
どうぞお
はい
りください
please come in
どうぞおかけくださいplease sit down
どうぞおすわりくださいplease sit down
がんばってくださいdo your best! good luck!
おっすhello (extremely informal)
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Kanji used in this grammar

ク   キュウ   ひさしい a long time   
ゲン   ガン   origin; original   もと origin   
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キ   ケ    spirit   
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ガン   ねが to request, to petition   
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チ   いた to do   
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シン   もう to say   
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ジョウ   ショウ   うえ above   うわ- above   あげる to raise   あがる to rise   かみ first half, upper part   のぼ to climb   のぼせる to bring up, to raise   のぼ to bring up   
セン   さき ahead   
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シツ   うしな to lose   
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ライ   レイ    thanks, salutation   
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ヒ   つか fatigue   つかれる to be tired   つからす to make tired, to exhaust    
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ヨウ   Mr   さま    
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メイ   ミョウ   あかるい bright   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   
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ニチ   ジツ   sun; day   ひ    -か    
キュウ   やす to rest   
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テン   あめ    あま- heaven   
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ニュウ   い to enter   はい to enter   いれる to put in   
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