Telephone Etiquette in Japanese

Posted on 30. Sep, 2014 by in Culture, Grammar

Do you use Japanese often perhaps at work place or with your family? When you answer your phone in Japanese, how do you respond? In today’s article, let me show you some of the telephone etiquette that you can use in Japanese. Read on!


photo from marumeganechan on

Moshi Moshi – もしもし  (Hello)

~is the key word to use when you pick up the phone in Japanese. I know in English, you would pick up a phone saying, “Hello.”  Just remember, you don’t say “Konnichiwa, こんにちは。” when you pick up a phone in Japanese.


Dochira sama desuka? -どちらさまですか?(Who is this?)

If you are not sure who is calling, you can ask him/her by saying, Dochira sama desuka? -どちらさまですか?This is a polite way of asking, “Who is this?”.

During your conversation, you might want to use the expressions like:

Goyouken wa nan desuka? -ご用件は、何ですか?(ごようけんは、なんですか?)(May I help you?) 


Goyouken o oukagai shitemo yoroshii desuka? -ご用件を、お伺いしてもよろしいですか?(ごようけんを おうかがいしても よろしいですか?)(May I ask you what this call is about?) 

Above two expressions are very similar, but the second one is much longer, and it might sound a bit more polite. However, you can use the first expression without offending anyone.


Shoushou omachi kudasai. – 少々、お待ちください。(しょうしょう おまちください。)(Please hold on. or Please hang on.)


Sukoshi omachishite itadaitemo iidesuka? – 少し、お待ちしていただいても いいですか?(すこし おまちしていただいても いいですか?)(May I ask you to hold on? )

This one is again a bit more polite version of the above.

Omatase itashimashita. – お待たせいたしました。(おまたせいたしました。) (Sorry to keep you waiting. ) 


Tantou sha ni otsunagi itashimasu. -担当者におつなぎいたします。(たんとうしゃに おつなぎいたします。)(Let me connect you with the assigned person.)

You can use this expression by replacing the part, “tantou sha(assigned person)” with anyone. For example, if you say,

Tanaka san ni otsunagi itashimasu. -田中さんにおつなぎいたします。(たなかさんに おつなぎいたします。) then, it would mean, “Let me connect you to Mr. Tanaka.”


Odenwa arigatou gozaimashita. – お電話、ありがとうございました。(おでんわ ありがとうございました。)(Thank you for calling.)


Shitsurei shimasu. Shitsurei itashimasu. – 失礼します。失礼いたします。(しつれいします。しつれいいたします。)

As you are ending the conversation, it is an etiquette in Japanese to say “Shitsurei shimasu. Shitsurei itashimasu. – 失礼します。失礼いたします。(しつれいします。しつれいいたします。)”.  To be honest, I am not sure if there is a good translation for this expression in English. This is one of those things that it literally means, “Sorry to disturb you..” kind of things.  People in Japan normally say this before ending the conversation. We rarely say “Sayounara, さようなら” on the phone to end our conversation.


Were these expressions new to you? Hope these were helpful to you. Good luck learning Japanese.

Learning Romaji to read Japanese words

Posted on 29. Sep, 2014 by in Grammar

Throughout my blog sites, I’ve often used Romaji(ローマ字)-Roman Alphabet to write Japanese words. If you are not familiar with Hiragana, Katakana, or Kanji, Romaji will make it easier to for you to read and pronounce Japanese words. Romaji is simply a use of Latin script. Romaji is used in many places in Japan, especially for various public signs including the ones at train & bus stations. In today’s article, let me focus on Romaji and how they are shown in writing.

Here are some of the examples of Romaji’s being used today.


Photo from luisvilla on


photo from



photo from busy.pochi on


photo from Annie Guilloret on

Romajji chart from 


a i u e o
ka ki ku ke ko kya kyu kyo
sa si su se so sya syu syo
ta ti tu te to tya tyu tyo
na ni nu ne no nya nyu nyo
ha hi hu he ho hya hyu hyo
ma mi mu me mo mya myu myo
ya (i) yu (e) yo
ra ri ru re ro rya ryu ryo
wa (i) (u) (e) (o)
ga gi gu ge go gya gyu gyo
za zi zu ze zo zya zyu zyo
da (zi) (zu) de do (zya) (zyu) (zyo)
ba bi bu be bo bya byu byo
pa pi pu pe po pya pyu pyo


しゃ sha し shi しゅ shu しょ sho
つ tsu
ちゃ cha ち chi ちゅ chu ちょ cho
ふ fu
じゃ ja じ ji じゅ ju じょ jo
ぢ di づ du
ぢゃ dya ぢゅ dyu ぢょ dyo
くゎ kwa
ぐゎ gwa
を wo


When we write our names in English, we often use Romaji.

For example:

やまだ けいこ  ==>  Keiko Yamada

やまもと けいた  ==>  Keita Yamamoto

はしもと やすのり ==> Yasunori Hashimoto

There are two basic rules when using Romaji.

1) When using long vowels, circumflex or – is used.

For example:

otôsan, oto-san ==> お父さん、おとうさん (father)

onêsan, one-san ==> お姉さん、おねえさん (big sister)

onîsan, oni-san  ==> お兄さん、おにいさん (big brother)

2) Depending on a word, we might double the alphabet.

For example:

kitte  == > 切手、きって (stamp)

koppu  ==> コップ (cup)

gakkô, gakko-  ==> 学校、がっこう(school)


The major things to remember about Romaji is just about these two rules. Other than that, Romaji is pretty simple. Try reading the Romaji below.

  • inu
  • neko
  • tori
  • kuma
  • pasokon
  • tsukue
  • nihon

They are:

  • inu  ==> 犬、いぬ (dog)
  • neko ==> 猫、 ねこ (cat)
  • tori ==>鳥、とり (bird)
  • kuma ==>熊、くま (kuma)
  • pasokon==>パソコン (personal computer)
  • tsukue==>机、つくえ (desk)
  • nihon==>日本、にほん (Japan)

Hope this info will be useful for you when traveling to Japan one day.

Speaking politely in Japanese

Posted on 23. Sep, 2014 by in Grammar

In Japanese, depending on who you are talking to, we use all forms of different ending for our verbs. However, it will be most appropriate if you learn the polite form of each verb, so you can use them to anyone.


Photo from sunnywinds* on


For example, take a look at the following conversation.

You: How are you?

Partner:I am doing well. Do you want to stop by Starbucks for a quick coffee?

You: Sure, lets go.


If your partner here is your close friend, Japanese conversation might sound like this:

You: Genki? (元気?げんき?)

Partner: Genki (dayo). Sutaba* de chotto cofi- demo dou? (元気(だよ)。スタバでちょっとコーヒーでもどう?)

*Starbucks is often called Sutaba (スタバ) in Japanese.

You: Iiyo. ikou! (いいよ。行こう!いいよ、いこう!)


Watch how this conversation changes if your partner is someone you don’t know too well, or someone you respect.


You: Ogenki desuka? (お元気ですか?おげんきですか?)

Partner: Genki desu. Sutaba* de chotto cofi- demo doudesuka? (元気です。スタバでちょっとコーヒーでもどうですか?)

You: Iidesuyo. Ikimashou.(いいですよ。行きましょう。いきましょう。)


The first thing you might notice here is adding “O(お)” at the beginning of the word, “genki(元気、げんき)”. By adding  “O(お)”, it sounds much more polite in this case.


The phrase from your partner also changed from Dou? (どう?) to Doudesuka? (どうですか?) The important thing to remember is, anytime you add “desu” to the end, it sounds much more polite.


Lastly, “ikou(行こう)” changed to “ikimashou(行きましょう)”.  Ikimashou sounds much more polite in Japanese.


Let me show you how each verb will change when making them to polite form.


To write:

Kaku(書く、かく) ====> Kaki masu (書きます、かきます)

To quit

Yameru(止める、やめる)  ==> Yame masu(止めます、やめます)

To run

Hashiru (走る、はしる)   ==> Hashiri masu(走ります、はしります)

To sleep

Neru(寝る、ねる)  ==> Ne masu(寝ます、ねます)

To eat

Taberu(食べる、たべる)  ==> Tabe masu(食べます、たべます)

To watch

Miru (見る、みる)  ==> Mi masu(見ます、みます)

To speak

Shaberu (喋る、しゃべる)  ==> Shaberi masu(喋ります、しゃべります)

To cry

Naku (泣く、なく)  ==> Naki masu(泣きます、なきます)


You noticed that “masu(ます)” is the key word to add at the end of each verb. However, pay close attention to the ending, how each verb changes before you add the “masu(ます)”.

If you have any questions on any of these, please feel free to let me know in the comment section!