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How to Introduce Yourself in Japanese

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

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こんにちは, everyone!

Today we are going to be learning how to introduce ourselves in Japanese! If you haven't quite gotten around to learning hiragana and katakana yet, don't worry. I will be including romaji in this lesson as well.

Let's get started shall we?



単語(tango) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- vocabulary

例(rei) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- example

私(watashi) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I; me

といいます(to iimasu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I am

と申します(to moushimasu) ------------------------------------------------------------------- I am(formal)

です(desu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ polite sentence ending

自己紹介(jikoshoukai) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- self-introduction

お辞儀(ojigi) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- bow

はじめまして(hajimemashite) --------------------------------------------------------------- nice to meet you

趣味(shumi) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- hobby

~から来ました(~karakimashita) ------------------------------------------------------ (I) come from

出身(shusshin) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- hometown

大学(daigaku) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- university

~年生(~nensei) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ~year student

仕事(shigoto) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- work;job;occupation

専攻(senkou) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (academic) major

専攻する(senkousuru) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to major in ~

アート(aato) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- art

音楽(ongaku) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- music

テニス(tenisu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ tennis

スポーツ(supootsu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- sports

ダンス(dansu) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- dance;dancing

好き(suki) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (to) like

宜しくお願いします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu) -------------------------- I'll be in your care (formality)

22歳(ni juu ni sai) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 22 years old

20歳(hatachi) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 20 years old

州(shuu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ state (michigan, Iowa, etc.)

日本語(nihongo) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Japanese

****Before we get started, I feel it is important to note that in Japanese, verbs come at the end of a sentence or phrase, not always directly after the subject of the sentence. for example "I'm going to Japan" would be more like "I'm Japan to going" (watashi ha nihon ni ikimasu) Basically, English is ordered as SVO (subject verb object), whereas Japanese is SOV (subject object verb)****


First of all, when you meet someone for the first time, it is customary to bow and say はじめまして(hajimemashite), from there you can go into your 自己紹介(jikoshoukai) or self-introduction.

In most cases, it is fine to just give a short and sweet introduction



ーー>hajimemashite. watashi ha rooren to iimasu. yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

ーーー>Nice to meet you. My name is Lauren. I'll be in your care.

It is important to note here that the particle は(ha) is not pronounced like the normal は, but like わ(wa). Also, there is no direct/literal translation for よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu) in English. It is mostly a formality, and can be used in many different social situations, not just when meeting someone for the first time.

Now, let's break it down. はじめまして (hajimemashite) is a phrase you will use, without exception, when meeting someone for the first time. Therefore it will be translated as "Nice to meet you."

~といいます(to iimasu) means I am called ~. There are other variations of this, such as just saying です(desu) after your name, or the more formal version of といいます, と申します(to moushimasu). If you are meeting with a peer or someone younger than you, です or といいます are just fine, but if you are at say, a job interview or something, it is best to use と申します。

When you say both はじめまして and よろしくお願いします, it is customary to bow to the person you are talking to. A proper bow is accomplished by placing both hands directly down at your sides (or in front if you are female) and using your back, not just your head, to lean forward. Be mindful to not make eye contact while you are bowing. It is best to just look down towards the direction in which you are bowing.

Here is a good example video of a well carried out お辞儀(ojigi)

This kind of short introduction is fine, but if you want to tell the other party more about yourself, we'll teach you how to do just that.



ーー>hajimemashite. watashi ha rooren to iimasu. amerika no mishiganshuu kara kimashita. ni juu ni sai de, iisutan mishigan daigaku no yonensei desu. senkou ha nihongo desu. watashi no shumi ha aato to ongaku ga sukidesu. yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

ーーー>Nice to meet you, I'm Lauren. I'm from the United States. I am 22 years old and a senior at Eastern Michigan University. I am majoring in Japanese. My hobbies are art and music. I'll be in your care.

Note that 私(watashi), meaning I or me, is not used at the beginning of every sentence. Using watashi for every sentence is redundant and can be seen as annoying, as the subject is already understood once you use it the first time. If you wish to change the subject of the sentence, you must introduce the new subject followed by は, as I did with 私の趣味は(watashinoshumi ha)

Let's break it down some more:

"アメリカのミシガン州からきました" --> I'm from the United States.

There is something important to note here in this sentence in that when stating a location, you state Large>small. In English we would say "Michigan, America", but in Japanese it is the opposite. For example, let's say I'm from Detroit, Michigan USA. If I wanted to say that in Japanese, it would look something like this:

-->アメリカのミシガン州のデトロイト市から来ました(amerika no mishiganshuu no detoroitoshi kara kimashita)

As you can see in the example, you separate country, city, and state names with the particle の(no). の is known as the possessive particle, so along with subject marker は, it is important to remember. から来ました(kara kimashita) means "came from", から being from and 来ました meaning came. The present tense of 来ました, to come, is 来ます(kimasu). In English we would use the present tense to say we "come from~", but Japanese uses past tense.

In Japanese, years old is 歳(sai). We could end the sentence as 二十二歳です、 but in doing so all of our sentences would seem truncated and almost robotic. There for we are connecting the sentence using で(de). で can come after a noun or a certain type of adjective known as na-adjective, which we will get into later. Here's another example of connecting a sentence using で:

--> 私の専攻は日本語で、今年は日本に留学します (watashi no senkou ha nihongo de, kotoshi ha nihon ni ryuugaku shimasu)

----->My major is Japanese, and I am going to study abroad in Japan this year.

イースタンミシガン大学の四年生です(iisutan mishigan daigaku no yonensei desu)

-->イースタンミシガン大学:大学(daigaku) means University, so this is the name of the Universtiy.

-->の(no):again we have posessive particle の, which is also be considered as "of" in this case; student of eastern michigan university.

-->四年生です(yonensei desu):四年生 means literally "fourth year student" but we'll just say senior. Next is です. A lot of people refer to です as the Japanese "to be" verb but I've never liked that simplification. If you'd like you could consider it to be as such. But, unlike the English "to be", です has no real grammatical value. Therefore it can be and IS dropped in casual speech.

日本語を専攻しています(nihongo wo senkou shiteimasu)

-->日本語:Nihongo is Japanese for, well, Japanese.

-->を専攻しています:を is a particle used to connect the object to the verb. There are cases when は or が are used in place of を, but those will be discussed in future lessons. "senkoushiteimasu" is the present perfect for 専攻します(senkou shimasu) or "to major in". Senkou by itself is the noun major, so in this case the Japanese doesn't differ much from English in the structure.

私の趣味はアートと音楽が好きです(watashi no shumi ha aato to ongaku ga suki desu)

****This sentence is a good example of why its best to not create a connection between particle marker は and the english verb "to be". If we translated it that way, it would come out like this: "My hobbies are I like art and music." Weird, right? This is why subject marker は is better translated as "as for". Let's translate it again: "As for my hobbies, I like art and music." Much better, right? Of course a simpler way to state your hobbies would be "私の趣味はアートと音楽です”, both are acceptable.****

-->私の趣味は:again, we have possessive particle no, making clear that these are my hobbies, and subject marker は marking "my hobbies" as the subject.

-->アートと音楽:here we introduce a new particle, と(to) which will act as "and", and allow us to list things. If we wanted, we could add another hobby in there. For example: アートと音楽とテニスーー>アートとおんがくとテニスーー>art and music and tennis.

-->が好きです: ~が好きです(~ga sukidesu) means to like something, but tread carefully. Unlike English, in Japanese 好き is an adjective, not a verb. Also, when we connect the object to suki, we use the particle が, always. For example, if I wanted to say I like Hiro, I would say ひろ君が好きです(hiro-kun ga suki desu)

Whew, that was a lot. But if you made it this far, good job! If you still haven't gotten your hands on a text book, we here at teach me Japanese recommend Genki for beginners! You can get your hands on just the first book or both books WITH the respective workbooks from Amazon.

Make sure to practice the new vocabulary and leave your own 自己紹介 in the comments below!

As always, がんばってね!


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