The most useful Japanese Phrases that you wish you learned earlier! – Top 10 List
Have you ever thought about what kind of Japanese words you have studied or learned that made you think “wow, this is so useful! How did I go so long without learning this?”. If you have not, here we have some of the Japanese phrases for you to learn!
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Phrase 1: とりあえず Toriaezu
This phrase is used to say you would do something in the meantime.
For example, you use とりあえず (toriaezu) in this situation「とりあえず、行きましょう」(toriaezu, ikimashou)。This means you are going even when you have not completely decided that it would be a good idea to go.
Phrase 2: ところで Tokorode
This is used when the speaker would want to change the topic totally unrelated to the current topic. It can be meant as “by the way”.
For example, you can say「今日はいい天気だね！ところで、しゅくだいは終わりましたか？」(kyou wa ii tenkida ne! Tokorode, shukudai wa owarimashitaka?). This means “today’s weather is great! By the way, did you finish your homework?”.
Phrase 3: ちなみに Chinamini
This phrase means “incidentally”. ちなみに (chinamini) is used when you say additional information, which is related to the topic and not necessary to mention it but the speaker thinks it is better to mention.
For example, if someone asks you for directions to Coto;
JR no eki kara Coto made nanpun desuka?
How long does it take from JR to Coto?
Coto wa JR eki kara toho 5 fun de koraremasu. Chinamini chikatetsu de mo koraremasu yo.
It is a 5 minutes walk from the JR station to Coto. By the way, you can come by the subway.
Phrase 4: おごり Ogori
This phrase means “it’s on me” or you can use this phrase when you want to treat someone a drink or a meal.
For example, you can say「のみものは私のおごりです」(nomimono wa watashi no ogoridesu) which means “the drink is on me”. You can also use this phrase when you would want to pay for a meal or a movie ticket.
Phrase 5: さすが Sasuga
When you use this phrase, the implication would be that you are not surprised by the fact that they did a good job. It was expected of that person to do a good job. Therefore, you are impressed by the person.
For example, you can say like「さすがですね！」(sasuga desune!) which means “you are great!”. This phrase is usually said as a compliment.
Phrase 6: もったいない Mottainai
You can use this phrase in 2 contexts. The first one would be “what a waste!” or “it is a pity to waste”. For example,「じかんがもったいない」(jikan ga mottainai) which means “waste of time”.
Another content when you can use this phrase would be when you are putting yourself lower than the person you are speaking or talking to. For example,「しんせつなおことばありがとうございます。わたしにはもったいないおことばです」(shinsetsu na okotoba arigatou gozaimasu. watashi niwa mottainai okotoba desu) which means “thank you for your kind words. Those words are too good for me”.
This imply that the compliments given to you by someone else were too precious or too good for you. Therefore, you are putting yourself lower than the other person you are speaking too.
Phrase 7: どうも Doumo
You might have heard of this phrase before whether on the streets of Japan or in an anime. The phrase is usually combined with「ありがとう」(arigatou) or「ありがとうございます」(arigatou gozaimasu).
Most polite: どうもありがとうございます (doumo arigatou gozaimasu)
Very polite: ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu)
Casual (a bit polite): どうもありがとう (doumo arigatou)
Casual: ありがとう (arigatou)
Very casual: どうも (doumo)
Phrase 8: マジ Maji
マジ (maji) means “really?” or “yes, really” depending on the tone you put on the word. However, there is a difference between the phrase「本当」(hontou) and「マジ」(maji)
For example, 「本当」(hontou) sounds more polite and feminine as compared to「マジ」(maji) which sounds more rough and crude. Do take note that you should be very careful when using「マジ」(maji) to your superiors. All in all,「マジ」(maji) is a really useful word when you are talking casually with your friends.
Phrase 9: とにかく Tonikaku
Be careful when you use「とにかく」(tonikaku) and「とりあえず」(toriaezu) as both meant a different meaning. For「とにかく」(tonikaku), it means “anyway” or “in any case”.
For example,「とにかく、行きましょう」(tonikaku, ikimashou) which means “in any case, let’s go.” It is used to change the subject of the conversation or topic.
Phrase 10: じつは Jitsuwa
「じつは」(jitsuwa) means “actually” or “as a matter of fact”. It can mean either a positive response or a negative response, please be careful on how you tone and form your sentences.
You can say like「じつはそれ、ほんとうなんだ。」(jitsu wa sore, hontou nan da) which means “as a matter of fact, it is true”.
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