Back to Basics: Self-Introduction & Useful Japanese Verbs

When learning a new language, no matter how long you’ve been studying, it’s important to review the basics every once in awhile. Let’s review how to introduce yourself in Japanese for the first time, as well as the ten most useful Japanese verbs!

Introduce Yourself

When you visit Japan, it’s very likely that a friendly Japanese person will ask you what your name is, or what country you came from! In preparation for this situation, it’s good to practice how to introduce yourself in Japanese. In Japan, a typical, simple self-introduction consists of the following parts:

Hajimemashite! はじめまして! (Nice to meet you!)

This is the usually very first thing you say to someone when introducing yourself. Just like “Nice to meet you” in English, you can say Hajimemashite when meeting a new person for the first time, as Hajime is “the beginning” in Japanese.

Then, you can tell them your name:

Watashi wa _______  desu. わたしは_________です。(I am _________.) 


Watashi no namae wa ______ desu.  わたしのなまえは_______です。(My name is ___________.)

In English, people usually say “My name is ______”, but in Japanese, people also commonly say “I am ____.” Either phrase is okay!

Next, the question you will probably most commonly get is what country you came from. Here’s how you say it in Japanese.

[Country name] kara kimashita. _________からきました。I came from [country name].

For example, if you came from Canada, you would say, “Canada kara kimashita.” Pretty simple, right?

And finally, you should finish your self-introduction with the following polite Japanese phrase:

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! よろしくおねがいします!

After your introduction, you end with yoroshiku onegaishimasu. There is no English equivalent to this phrase, but it’s a polite phrase commonly used like “Please take good care of me” or “I look forward to our relationship.” Unlike hajimemashite, you can say yoroshiku onegaishimasu to anyone at any time!


Ten Useful Japanese Verbs

Japanese verbs come in what’s called the “Dictionary Form”, which is like English’s “To” form”. For example, “To eat” “To sleep” “To watch”. This is the un-conjugated form. The Japanese version of that is the “Dictionary Form”. In Japanese, verbs almost always end in either Ru () or U () in their dictionary forms. When you conjugate them in to present tense, that is called their “Masu” form (pronounced “Mass”).

See the following list for the top 10 most common verbs, in both their Dictionary Form and Masu Forms:

  1. Taberu (食べる) To eat

Dictionary form: Taberu (食べる) 

Masu form: Tabemasu. 食べます。

Example: Gohan wo tabemasu.  ごはんを食べます。I eat rice. / I eat a meal (could be breakfast/lunch/dinner).

  1. Nomu (飲む) To drink

Dictioanry form: Nomu (飲む)

Masu form: Nomimasu 飲みます

Example: Koohii wo nomimasu.  コーヒーを飲みます. I drink coffee.

Koohii wo nomimasu ka? コーヒーを飲みますか? Do you drink coffee?

Note: Add ka (か) to the end of a masu-form to turn it into a question!

  1. Suru (する) To do. 

Dictionary form: Suru (する)

Masu form: Shimasu  します。

Example: Benkyou wo shimasu. 勉強をします。I study. (lit. I do studies).

  1. Iru (いる) To exist.

Dictionary form: Iru (いる)

Masu form: Imasu. います。

Example: Watashi ga koko ni imasu. 私はここにいます。I’m here.

Note: Japanese differentiates between animate/living objects and inanimate/nonliving objects for the verb “to exist”. Iru (いる) is for living objects, such as humans and animals.

  1. Aru (ある) To exist. 

Dictionary form: Aru (ある)

Masu form: Arimasu. あります。

Example: Pen ga arimasu. ペンがあります。There is a pen.

Note: This verb has the same meaning as Iru (いる), to exist. But as mentioned above, Aru (ある) is for inanimate/nonliving objects, such as pens, tables, houses, books, etc.

  1. Wakaru (分かる) To understand. 

Dictionary form: Wakaru (分かる)

Masu form: Wakarimasu.  分かります。

Example: Nihongo ga sugoshi wakarimasu. 日本語が少しわかります。I understand Japanese a little.

  1. Miru (見る) To see. 

Dictionary form: Miru (見る)

Masu form: Mimasu. 見ます。

Example: Terebi wo mimasu ka? テレビを見ますか? Do you watch TV?

Hai, terebi wo mimiasu. はい、テレビを見ます。 Yes, I watch TV.

  1. Iku (行く) To go. 

Dictionary form: Iku (行く) 

Masu form: Ikimasu. 行きます。

Example: Isshou ni ikimasen ka?  一緒に行きませんか? Shall we go together?

Note: To ask or invite someone to do something, turn the verb into the negative form, the “Masen” form. English is the same – to be polite, you would say, “Shall we not go together?” Ikimasen ka?

  1. Kuru (来る) To come. 

Dictionary form: Kuru (来る)

Masu form: Kimasu. 来ます。

Example: Densha ga kimasu. 電車が来ます。 The train is coming.

Kimasu ka?      来ますか?      Will you come?

  1. Matsu (待つ)To wait. 

Dictionary form: Matsu (待つ)

Masu form: Machimasu. 

Example: Koko de machimasu. ここで待ちます。I’ll wait here.

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