どうぞ(douzo) vs. どうも(doumo)


they are one of the most useful phrases to learn in Japanese. They are both polite and both in a rather affirmative tone.

どうぞ meaning “please” in a tone much like “(Please) I insist”.
this is used when you are making any kind of offerings…. this could be a food item, a spot on the que, or allowing someone to speak English with you (although the thing YOU want to do is practice JAPANESE with them… but that’s another story…)

どうも meaning “Hi/yeah/thank you” it’s more like a sound of acknowledgement…
you can use it, basically when you want to say “thank you” or just a simple “hey”, but it has a fairly polite tone to it.

This 2 have the same initial sounds, but don’t get them mixed up.



How do you respond to いらっしゃいませ?

Something that really terrifies a lot of Japanese learners is mannerism upon entering a restaurant. There are many things to pay attention to when you are entering a Japanese restaurant

So what’s the first you thing you hear when you enter a store?

The phrase you’re most likely to hear is

いらっしゃいませー! (irasshaimase … or “welcome” )

So in other countries and cultures it is more customary to say something back. In this situation, you’re inclined to say something like “ありがとうございます” but this is actually a little awkward…

These are the 3 things you would like to say when you’ve entered the building in response to your “いらっしゃいませ” you get from the store clerk/master.

1. 御免下さい (gomen kudasai…. “allow me to come in”)
2. どうも~ (doumo– … “hi/thanks/hello”)
3. こんにちは~(konnichiwa — … “good afternoon”)

in the above phrase, you would most likely pay attention to 2.どうも. this phrase is actually used most frequently in the recent years. It is actually a very mild or “neutral tone” phrase that is applicable to most situation. It’s a sound of “acknowledgement”.

Having the above phrases in mind, it’s about time you give it a try at your next visit to the restaurant.


何時(nanji) = Whattime (and not “what time”)

The word for asking “what time” is 何時(なんじ、nanji)。

But people usually confuse this with the word “time” which is 時間(じかん、ikan)

This is because you have phrases like、

今日の ご飯の 準備の 時間は 何時 ですか?
kyou-no gohan-no jyunbi-no jikan-wa nanji desuka?

But actually you can simply the sentence by omitting the word “time” or 時間(じかん、jikan)

今日の ご飯の 準備    は 何時 ですか?
kyou-no gohan-no jyunbi wa nanji desuka?

You see the difference? This understanding actually comes from the fact that in english (and other latin languages) the word “time” is classified or modified by the word “what”, becoming a ‘phrase’ of “what time”. However in japanese, as you can combine two or more kanji characters to make a new word, the word “何時(なんじ、nanji) sounds like ‘one word’ to an foreign ear. Therefore, when you compare it to a language like english where you would ‘modify’ the word “time” with the word “what” to create a ‘phrase’ called ‘what time’ or in literal japanese “time of what”

Another way to think is to treat the japanese 何(なん、nan *note that 何 alone is pronounced なに、nani) like prefixes in Englsih. It’s also a sign that where it is pronounced like 何(なん,nan) instead of 何(なに、nani), it will work much like a prefix in a word “what-time”, thus therefore, as the title of this post says “whattime”…


by the way, in any case

#use it for a relevant topic, or to bring up something important that should be talked about

ところで 今日の 授業は 何時 ですか?
(tokorode kyou-no jugyou-wa nannji desuka?)
By the way, what time is today’s class (being held)

ところで 明日の 祭りは どこで 行いますか?
(tokorode ashita-no matsuri-wa doko-de okonaimasuka?)
In any case, (at) where is tomorrow’s festival going to be held?

Self Introductions 自己紹介 (じこしょうかい)

Something that I regularly get asked is how to do “self-introductions”. This seems to be the most preliminary stage of learning a language, yet could be the most pressuring because it is your initial contact with the person you are talking to, meaning that this wiill be your “first impression”.

One of my favorite sales/negotioation coach Brian Tracy says “You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” (Source: Brian Tracy International) So most of us know how important (and how pressuring!) this could be.

So here’s an imaginary character “Felipe(フェリペさん)” from Brazil. Like many foreigners trying to pave through a living in another country, he works 2 jobs. Let’s see what we can do.

We’ll have two versions of his introduction. 1) His original 2) Editted version based on his original.

1) Original Version
29歳。 4年前ぐらい 日本へ 来ました。


I’m Felipe. I’m Brazilian. 29 years of age. 4 years ago, I cam to Japan. I live in Tokyo.
Right now, I work in a company (located) in Tsukiji, and do NHK.

This self-introduction is actually really good. Considering that it has “all the right contents”. You have the name, age, your relationship with Japan, and your current status (work). This should definitely get you going to conversation in different topics. I personally believe the only thing you will need to do is just combining the sentences.

2) Edited Version

今築地の会社で フルタイムで 働きながら、NHKでもバイトをしています。

Hi, I’m Feliipe. I’ve been living in Japan since 4 years ago. I’m 29 years old.
I currently work fulltime at a company (located) in Tsukijji, and at the same time, I also work at NHK.

The above will sound something that a lot of native Japanese speakers would say. This also, has “all the right informaton” but at the same time, it concurs with the overall “trend” of how people speak Japanese today.

the structure follows this

今、NOUN/ACTIVITY NAME (を)し+ながら、PLACE(conceptual/physical) でも VERBて+(い)ます。

a) 「NOUN (を)し+ながら」 works verb similar with 「NOUN+します」 as the し=します。
b) 「でも」 in this case can be understood as conjunction of 「で(at, physical/conceptual)」and 「も(also)」。 *It is not the same 「でも」 meaning “but”
c) 「VERB て+(い)ます」 or 「NOUNして+(い)ます」 is also a good structure to use, when you are explaining something such as an occupation. Think of it as saying “I’m currently —-ing (i.e. working, studying, resting”.

The above should help you sound like most other natives.

Also, if you are looking to add that “extra twist” and make yourself more memorable, try to put in some joke about yourself based upon a true fact. These are just merely examples to start with, but you can come up with your own.

Adding that “extra” impression
After you’ve made your point, now it’s time you can be creative, or good around, and say something most impressionable that suits your character like. BUT make sure to say something like below, AFTER you’ve made your NORMAL self introduction!

東京で一番好きなレストランは ロボットレストランです。
My favorite restaurant in Tokyo is the “Robot Restaurant”.

I have seen “Spirited Away”, over a million times.

The vocaloid known as “Hatsune Miku” is my imaginary girlfriend. (=in japanese it would be “Lover at my heart”)

The basic of a Japanese conversation is to first either a) make rapport b) mirror the person c) answer the person’s intended question without getting “too creative”. But after you’ve made enough initial engagement, give a shot with your whit and humor!


stating Personal opinions and remarks with 「~と 思います。 」

「~と 思います。」
I think that ~
I believe that ~

The literal translation for 「と思います。」means “I think that~” or “I believe that~” . It sounds like a rather conservative or reserved mannerism, but in a culture like that of Japan that avoids conflicts in confrontation, it is more appropriiate to say “I think it is~” or “I believe that it is~” to state an opinion.

I remembered it 思い出しました。( おもいだしました)。

思い出しました。 I remembered it.

Good to use, when you literally, “remembered something”… something you might say in a language lesson, or a language exchange session.

Yes I remembered it!

今日は レッスンが ないこと (を) 思い出しました。
I remembered the fact that there was no lessons today
=Eng. I just realized that I didn’t have a lesson today.