Today, we tackle how to say “good afternoon” in Japanese and all the other ins and outs of the basic greetings!
This common greeting is just one of the most important expressions the Japanese language has to offer. Hands down! As a new language student, it’s essential to be aware of this simple Japanese phrase and to master its usage.
Do you know how to read in Japanese? If not, this article has romaji versions of the vocabulary to help you out. However, we encourage you to learn the Japanese alphabet so you can read the words in hiragana and katakana, too!
How to Say “Good Afternoon” in Japanese
There are different ways to say “good afternoon” in Japanese. The standard form is こんにちは (konnichiwa). Technically speaking, there is no separation between this phrase and “hello” in the Japanese language, but they have a bit of difference.
To literally say “good afternoon,” it would be いい ひる です ね (ii hiru desu ne), but this is not the interjection that we know and love. This is instead just words being forced together with individual meanings. いい (ii) means good in Japanese, while ひる (hiru | 昼) stands for noon – again, very literal.
This combination sounds weird outside of a greeting and would never be heard within the language, so be aware but not fooled!
Meaning of Konnichiwa in Japanese Greetings
Let’s break down the parts of this word. Technically speaking, the word こんいちは (konnichiwa) is a compound word originating from 3 separate words or parts in the Japanese language.
- The こん (kon | 今) of this phrase means “this” or “now.”
にち (nichi | 日) is the way to say “day” or even “sun” in Japanese, as in the word にちようび (nichiyoubi｜日曜日), or “the day of the Sun” (which is literally Sunday).
は (ha) is a Japanese particle that is used to mark the subject of a sentence or idea.
Originally, this modern-day word was part of a longer sentence for greeting in Japanese. The pronunciation would be like this: こんにちはこきけんいかがですか (kon nichi wa gokiken ikaga desu ka | 今日はご機嫌いかがですか).
This is just a formal greeting or a polite phrase to ask a person or someone how they’re feeling, but it’s an outdated expression and would sound antiquated if said nowadays in Japan. Oddly enough, the Japanese never seemed to develop a formal way of greeting as a completely standalone assertion.
Nonetheless, here we see the origins of the phrase こんにちは (konnichiwa) – it seems like folks just got too lazy to ask the question after a while!
Rules for Writing Konnichiha in Japanese Language
Those well-studied in Japanese Hiragana will have noticed that the final “wa” in こんにちは (konnichiwa) is actually the character は, which is standardly read as “ha.” The reason for this is, as we stated earlier – this は (ha) is not taking its ordinary reading but is instead taking on its reading as a Japanese Particle!
When used as a particle to mark a subject of any thought, は (ha) is read and written as such. This is an established Japanese grammar rule to be mastered front to back!
こんにちはゆなさん。ひさしぶりですね。おげんき？ (konnichiha yuna san. Hisashiburi desu ne. ogenki? | こんにちは由奈さん。久しぶりですね。お元気？)
Hey good afternoon Yuna, long time no see, how are you?
げんきですよ、ありがとう (genki desu yo, arigatou | 元気ですよ、ありがとう)
I’m doing good, thanks.
こんにちは。いまどこいく？ (os, konnichiha. imadokoiku？ | こんにちは。今どこ行く？)
Yo, good afternoon. Where are we headed now?
まだえいがかんにいくだろう？いっしょにな～ ( konnichiha. mada eigakan ni iku darou? Issho ni na. | まだ映画館に行くだろう？一緒にな～)
Afternoon. We’re still going to the movie theater, right? The two of us?
や、そう。。。やっぱりわすれた、ごまん (ya, sou, yappari wasureta, gomen. | や、そう。。。やっぱり忘れた、ごめん)
Oh yea… I actually forgot, sorry.
ううん、べつに (uun, betsu ni ｜ ううん、別に)
Nope, no sweat.
The Secret of Ohayou
For those who have studied even a beginner level of Japanese, the injection おはよう (ohayou) is known to represent “good morning” and nothing else. But, おはよう (ohayou) as a greeting has a bit more to offer than that.
In fact, おはよう (ohayou) is often used as an informal way to greet or say hello to someone for the first time in Japan. It could be a close friend, a colleague, or a younger person.
So even if it’s 4 pm in the late winter afternoon or 6 in the evening, friends may say to each other おはよう！ (ohayou!) as a way to greet people in a shortened version.
That being said, don’t be thrown off if you hear おはよう (ohayou) when you’d expect to hear こんいちは (konnichiwa) in the afternoon! You may use おはよう (ohayou) as a casual greeting for a close friend or a family member anytime in the morning, afternoon, evening, or even in the middle of the night.
おはよう！ りょうりをつくている？ (ohayou!… ryouri wo tsukuteiru? | 料理を作ている？)
Good morning! Are you cooking?
うん、 たまごやく (un, tamagoyaki ｜ うん、 卵焼き)
あっ、 たまごやきたべたいな～おいしそうよ (aa, tamago yaki tabetai na~ oishisou yo |あっ、 卵焼き食べたいな～美味しそうよ)
Ah, I want to eat an omelette~ it looks delicious!
To Sum Up
These phrases are essential to learning the Japanese language better and prove especially useful for travelers, tourists, and those studying the language in Japan. It is also to show your appreciation for Japanese culture.
Japanese greetings and other expressions from other languages not only help you communicate with native speakers but also show respect or politeness at different times.
Have you ever used these greetings in your interactions with Japanese speakers to leave a good impression? Tell us how it went in the comment section below!
がんばってください (ganbatte kudasai)! ^^