004: Following

What is Masa Doing?


Let’s take a quick pause from all of our intense grammar study and talk a little about greeting and levels of formality. 

Japanese is a hierarchical language. This means that there are a number of levels of diction and respect. These levels are important to all parties because they allow people to show respect or disrespect through the way they speak. here are four main level that we use in Japanese, and each of these levels are dependent who is speaking and to whom. Before we get into that however, let’s talk about these four levels. 


  1. Honorific / Humble
  2. Formal
  3. Informal
  4. Familiar 


At first glance these four levels may seem fairly restrictive, because English seems like such a free language when in fact the opposite is true. Think about how you would speak to your best friend as opposed to your boss. Naturally you give your boss or a teacher more respect, and even speak differently depending on who you are speaking with. For example the word “you”, I would call my boss ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Sir’, ‘you’ to an unknown person I meet at the bus stop, and ‘dude’ or ‘man’ to my friends. I address people differently depending where they are on the invisible social spectrum. This is the exact same thing in Japanese. 


You speak with a certain level of politeness depending on the hearer’s position, age, role, or experience. Just like we learned before we use certain words depending on how formal we are being. だ is the informal version of です. There are also certain greetings that can be used depending on who you are speaking with. If you are speaking to someone who is your same age, grade, position or a close friend/family member you would use the Informal greetings below and for anyone above your level, the Formal greetings.


Good Morning – おはようございます(Formal)  おはよう(Informal)

How are you? おげんきですか?(Formal)  げんき?(Informal) 


However not every expression has a Formal/Informal version see below:


Good Afternoon/Hello – こんにちは

Good Evening – こんばんは


We will continue to talk more about these important levels are we move along. 

 Ding Dong! or RING- RING

起立 (きりつ)

礼 (れい)


Japanese Students stand and bow in unison at the beginning and end of each class. 


さようなら – Goodbye 



は Topic Marker

どんな – Which/What Type

音楽 (おんがく) – Music

聞いてる (きいている) Listen

の – ?

好きな (すきな) To Like

バンド – Band

とか – Or Something like

いる – To exist


一体 (いったい) – “…in the world”

どこ- Where

に- Direction Marker

行く (いく) – To Go

んだろう – I Wonder

先輩 (せんぱい) – Upperclassman Suffix

は – Topic Marker

好きな (すきな) – To Like

人 (ひと) – Person

とか – Or Something like that

いる – To Exist

ん – Indicates an Explination

です – Predicate

か – ?

えーっと – Ummm

実は (じつは) – The Truth it

ね – Uh

え – Eeh?

ここ- Here

で – Location of action

何 (なに) – What

している – Doing

の – ?

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