How To Speak Casual Japanese

When you speak casual English to friends, you don’t use perfect grammar and full sentences like you would when writing a paper, correct? Japanese is the same way. When speaking conversational Japanese, people rarely use the exact words and long phrases that you’d find in a textbook. Here is a 5-minute mini lesson to help you speak Casual Japanese.

Common Phrases

When speaking casual Japanese, normal phrases are made much shorter! When friends talk to each other, they won’t use the long polite phrases, but rather, the shorter chattier versions:

Konnichiwa –> Konchiwa
こんにちは ーー> こんちは
Hello/Good afternoon –> Hi

O genki desu ka? –> Genki?
おげんきですか ーー> げんき
How are you?

Ohayou gozaimasu –> Ohayou
おはようございます ーー> おはよう
Good morning –> Morning!

Gomennasai –> Gomen
ごめんなさい ーー> ごめん
I’m so sorry. –> Sorry.

Douitashimashite –> I i yo
どういたしまして ーー> いいよ
You’re welcome. –> It’s all good!

Sayounara –> Jyaa ne!
さようなら ーー> じゃあね
Goodbye. –> See ya!

If you master these casual phrases, you will sound like a true native speaker when you’re chatting with your friends!

Casual Verbs

An easy way to turn formal Japanese into more natural conversational Japanese is to just use the short forms of verbs. Take, for instance, the phrase “What are you doing?” The Japanese verb for “to do” is suru (する). Formal Japanese uses the long conjugating “masu” form of verbs, so suru (する) becomes shimasu (します). But casual Japanese just sticks to the basic short forms of verbs! No conjugation needed. Here’s an example:

Formal:
Nani o shitteimasuka?
なにをしていますか?
What are you doing?

Casual:
Nani suru no?
なにするの?
What’cha doin’?

As you can see, the casual version is much shorter and simpler than the properly conjugated textbook version!

Here’s some more examples:

Nani taberu no?
なに食べるの?
What’cha eating?

Nani miru no?
なに見るの?
What’cha lookin’ at?

Sore kau no?
それかうの?
You gonna buy that?

And just like that, you can speak natural, casual Japanese!

Words With Friends – Japanese Slang Words!

There are certain “trendy” Japanese words that you often hear on the streets, and yet won’t typically find in a textbook. Here are some examples of common Japanese slang words that are especially popular with young Japanese people!

1. Yabai (やばい)

Yabai is probably the most heavily used slang word, as it is used by people of all ages all over Japan. It has multiple meanings, and can be compared to the English “Oh my god!” It can be used in a good way, as a response to something happy/exciting, but can also be used in a negative way, as a response to bad news or a scary situation. In that sense, it’s a lot like the English slang word “crazy”, as things can either be “crazy” good, or “crazy” bad.

Example: ***at an amusement park***

Chihiro: Yabai! Ano jetto kosuta wa takai ne! (やばい!あのジェットコースターはたかい、ね。)Oh my god! That roller coaster is so tall, right?

Risa: Hayasou!! Yabai yo. (はやそう!やばいよ。)It looks fast! That’s crazy.

Chihiro: Noru? (のる?)Wanna ride it?

 

2. Meccha (めっちゃ)

Meccha is a slang word commonly used in the Kansai region of Japan. It has the same meaning as totemo (とても), which means “very” in Japanese.

Shion: Kono ke-ki wa meccha oishi! (このケーキはめっちゃおいしい!) This cake is so delicious!

Takashi: Deshou? Meccha umai. (でしょう?めっちゃうまい。) I know, right? It’s so good.

 

3. Ikemen (イケメン)

This very common Japanese slang word is used to describe handsome men! It comes from the full-length phrase iketeru menzu (イケてるメンズ), which describes “extremely good men”.

Yuri: Ne, ano otoko o mitte! (ね、あの男を見て!)Hey, look at that guy!

Mizuki: Chou ikemen jyanai? (ちょうイケメンじゃない?)Isn’t he such a handsome guy?

Yuri: Un, tashikani ikemen da. (うん、たしかにイケメンだ。) Yep, he’s definitely a good-looking guy.

 

4. Maji (マジ)

The Japanese word majime means “serious”, so when people shorten it to maji and cry out “maji?!” or “majide?!” it means “seriously?!” or “are you serious??”

Ruriko: Ne, kiita? Ariana Gurande to Pi-to Dabiddoson ga wakareta! (ね、聞いた?アリアナ・グランデとピート・ダビッドソンがわかれた。)  Hey, did you hear? Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson broke up!

Ayaka: Majide?! Kanashii!! (マジで?!かなしい!)Seriously?! That’s so sad!!

 

5. Sugoi (すごい)

The Japanese word meaning “amazing”. After yabai, this is probably the second most heavily used slang word in Japan. People often exclaim things as being sugoi, but the word can also be shortened to suge to convey extra emphasis. This is very often heard in Japanese anime!

Example: **watching an incredible summer fireworks display**

Ryuta:  Sugoi!!(すごい!)Wow, amazing!

Takeru:  Su-ge-!!(すげ!)AMAZING!

 

6. Kimoi (キモい)

This adjective is used to describe something gross or creepy. When something grosses or creeps you out, just yell this exclamation to voice your discomfort!

Example: ***at a Halloween party***

Kensuke: Watashi wa zombie da! (わたしはゾンビだ!)I’m a zombie!

Kazuya: Chi ga yabai! (ちがやばい。)There’s so much blood!

Nana: Kimoi yo! (キモいよ!)So creepy!

 

7. Dasai (ダサい)

This word means “lame” or “uncool”. Japanese people say this word when they see or hear something/someone that’s unstylish or out of fashion.

Example: ***at a shopping mall***

Okaasan (Mom):  Kono kutsu wa dou? Suki?(このくつはどう?すき?)How are these shoes? Do you like them?

Ami: Iya, dasai!!! (いや、ダサい!)Nope, they’re lame!!

Okaasan: Sou na no? Yasui kedo.. (そうなの?やすいけど。。。)Is that right? But they’re so cheap…

 

***NOTE: When speaking adjectives out loud, drop the I to make it casual! For example, “Kimoi” is often said as “kim-mo!” and “Yabai” is often said as “Yab-ba!”. The is the case for most casual I-adjectives. It just makes it sound more natural.

Our Casual Japanese Course

This high-quality and quick-to-go-through audio course will teach you the casual and “naughty” words and phrases in Japanese in a solid 40 minutes of teaching. You’ll enjoy watching Japanese anime and drama 10 times more after going through this Casual Japanese course!

Most of the chapters in this course include incredibly realistic conversation between two native Japanese speakers for realistic learning! And, like with all of our online courses, the first lesson of this course is absolutely FREE.

Here are the features of our Casual Japanese course:
  • Introducing Real Japanese spoken on the street
  • 40 mins of audio lessons + a guided textbook
  • You can practice speaking casual Japanese as you listen to the audio
  • 13 Chapters in total. You can learn casual Japanese spoken in different situations

Watch Our Facebook Live Lesson: Casual Japanese

We went live on Facebook and gave a fun little mini-lesson about speaking Casual Japanese! To watch that live stream, click this video below.

Live Lesson. Casual Japanese 😉

Live! CASUAL JAPANESE! Let's learn about all the casual, natural & slang words that your Japanese textbook DOESN'T teach you

Posted by Japanese Language & Culture on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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