Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Unlike English you can get by in Japanese with just a handful of easy words which you can quickly flip into questions (simply raise your voice at the end). In fact I have some Japanese friends who can spend all day using nothing more than these phrases!
So here we go...
1. Ka wa ii means cute.
But everything in Japan is cute. Use it for everything from clothes to mobile phones, to telling your friends how cute they are.
2. A tsu i means hot.
But it's also used as a greeting in summer as Japan gets very hot! "Atsui" is a conversation starter used by everyone.
3. Sa mu i means cold.
Then after one week of nice weather in October everyone starts saying "Samui!" because it is so very cold!
4. Gen ki?
Genki is a really cool word meaning "active", "energetic", "full of life", but when used as a greeting it means "How are you?". The answer is "Genki desu!"
5. Na ni? means what?
If you didn't quite catch something then you can say "nani?" and they'll repeat it. Just like the English "What?" it's not too polite, but it's fine with people who aren't too posh.
6. Ta no shii means fun!
You hear this everywhere, either as a question "tanoshii?" ("Are you having fun?" ) or answer "tanoshii!" ( "This is fun!) Very useful!
7. Omo shi ro i means interesting It seems that everything you do in Japan is either "tanoshii" for plain "fun" or "omoshiroi" if it's interesting in the "That's cool, I want to know more" type of way. Again, use as a question or answer.
8. Hon to means really
If a friend says they've just got a hot date, you simply say "Honto?" meaning "Really?". The answer is "Honto!" meaning "Yeah!". It can also be used in non-sarcastic ways.
9. Su ki means "like", and is pronounced similar to the winter sport. If you say it like a question, it means "Do you like this?". Your answer can be a "suki", meaning "Yes, I do!". Or try "karaoke, suki?" meaning "Do you like karaoke?" or "Sushi suki?" to mean…?
10. O i shi i means delicious.
If you taste something nice, either food or drink, simply say "oishii" to give it your seal of approval. You hear it at every meal and on every TV cooking show. Guaranteed to impress your hosts!
So there you go, ten funky words that will have anyone in Japan saying how wonderfully you speak the old Nihongo. Honto!
You can hear all these phrases ( to get the pronunciation just right), with a funky game, free online at http://genkienglish.net/genkijapan/japanese.htm
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