How To Speak Casual Japanese ~7 slang expressions

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. Japanese verb for “to do” is “shimasu” (します), and its casual Japanese (plain form) is suru (する). Casual Japanese just sticks to the basic short forms of verbs, and particles are omitted sometimes in simple sentences. Here are the examples:

Nani o shimasu ka?
What will you do?

Nani suru?
What you gonna do?

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?
What’cha eat?

Nani miru ?
What’cha watch?

Doko iku?
Where you gonna go?

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. Sugoi (すごい)

Sugoi means “wow” in English and the Japanese heavily use this slang word. Its corresponding formal word is subarashii (すばらしい). The word can also be shortened to sugee (すげー)to convey extra emphasis. This is very often heard in Japanese anime as well. In English there are so many expressions like wonderful, fantastic, marvelous, fascinating, fabulous, amazing..etc. but all these words can be expressed as sugoi in Japanese. wow!

Example: watching an incredible summer fireworks display

Ryuta:  Sugoi!!(すごい!)Wow, amazing!

Takeru:  Su-ge-!!(すげー!)AMAZING!


2. Meccha (めっちゃ)

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

Example conversation:

Shion: Kono ke-ki, meccha oishi! (このケーキ、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 yummy.

Shion: Kore tsukutta hito, tensai dane. Meccha sugoi (これ作った人、天才だね。めっちゃすごい。) The person who made this is genius. Super amazing.


3. Yabai (やばい)

Yabai is also heavily used slang word in 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 jettokoosutaa, meccha takai! (やばい!あのジェットコースター、めっちゃたかい。)Oh my god! That roller coaster is super tall.

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

Chihiro: Noru? (のる?)Wanna ride it?


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: Wao!! Takarakuji, 1,000 man-en atatta! (わぉ!宝くじ、1,000万円 当たった!)  Wow! I won a lottery of 10,000,000 yen!

Ayaka: Meccha sugee! Majide? (めっちゃすげー!まじで?)Wow, amazing! Seriously?!


5. 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: Nee, ano otoko, mite! (ねぇ あの男、見て!)Hey, look at that guy!

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

Mizuki: Un, hontoda. maji yabai. (うん、ほんとだ。まじやばい。) Yep, indeed. Oh my god.


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***

Kazuya: uwa, ano zombi, chi ga yabai yo! (うわ、あのゾンビ、ちが やばいよ。)Look at the zombie, there’s so much blood on him!

Nana: Kimoi! (キモい!)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? kakko ii?(このくつはどう? かっこいい?)How are these shoes? Do you like them?

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

*NOTE: When speaking adjectives out loud, sometimes drop the “~i” to adding stronger expressions! For example, “Kimoi” is often said as “kimo!” and “Yabai” is often said as “Yaba!”.

Casual Japanese Course

Casual Japanese

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!
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

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