5.0 Bringing Japan Home (2)

Colorful Papers Hanging on the Tree Branch
Figure 1: Colorful Papers Hanging on theTree Branch

Goal Icon Learning goals

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the distinction between formal and informal speech, and confidently utilise formal speech when appropriate.
  • Transform ‘XはYです’ into negative forms and using them appropriately in conversations.
  • Read and count numbers from 11 to 100.
  • Appropriately use the term 出身(しゅっしん: shusshin) to describe your own or other people’s place of origin.
  • Apply the conjunction でも (demo: however) in sentences effectively.


Japanese Romaji English Notes
(お)会計(かいけい) (o)kaikei bill (at a shop, restaurant) The honorific お(o) is usually added when used at a shop.
(お)つり otsuri change (money)
The honorific お(o) is usually added.
Plain; The term is commonly used to refer to both one’s own mother and others’ mothers in casual, everyday contexts. However, it is not typically used in formal or professional settings. The formal term for ‘mother’ is 母, which is read as ‘haha’.
お父(とう)さん otousan
Plain; The term is commonly used to refer to both one’s own father and others’ fathers in casual, everyday contexts. However, it is not typically used in formal or professional settings. The formal term for ‘father’ is 父, which is read as ‘chichi’.
Colloquial. This word functions as both an adjective and an adverb.
one’s place of origin

Expressions and phrases  

Japanese Romaji English Notes
Xでお願(ねが)いします X de onegai shimasu
With X, please It is used when handing over money to pay the bill. The amount you are handing over (before receiving the change) should be placed in the position marked by X.
ごちそうさま gochisou sama
Thanks for the nice meal Neutral
ごちそうさまでした gochisou sama deshita
Thank you very much for the nice meal Formal/polite
*ありがとうございました arigatou gozaimashita Thank you (for something that has been done)
ところで tokorode
by the way
へえ hee I see. The Japanese interjection is often used to express surprise, disbelief or admiration. It’s a casual expression that you might use with friends or people you’re familiar with.
ほら hora
See?/I told you
でも demo however Conjunction
not at all

* For more detailed information on how to use the phrases, please refer to the ‘Further Resources’ section at the end of the page.

Key grammar points

Japanese Romaji English Notes
X は Y じゃないです X wa Y janai desu
What is X? Nouns or na-adjectives are placed in the positions marked by X and Y. In this chapter, our focus will be solely on nouns. The use of na-adjectives in this sentence structure will be covered in Chapter 8.


Exercise 1

Guess which hiragana character needs to be filled in. To check the answer, click the ‘turn’ button. You can also listen to the sound of each word by clicking the audio icon.

Speech Bubble Icon Model dialogue

Lina and Nao have enjoyed the food at a local Japanese café near their university in Australia. As they come to the end of their meal and settle the bill, their connection deepens, and they continue to learn more about each other.


Lina and Nao: ごちそうさま! Gochisou sama!
Nao: すみません。お会計(かいけい)お願(ねが)いします。 Sumimasen. Okaikei onegai shimasu.
Café staff: はい。ありがとうございます。二十六(にじゅうろく)ドル(どる)です。 Hai. Arigatou gozaimasu. Nijuu roku doru desu.
Nao: じゃあ、三十(さんじゅう)ドルでお願いします。 Jaa, san-juu doru de onegai shimasu.
Café staff: はい。四(よん)ドルのおつりです。 ありがとうございました。 Hai, yon doru no otsuri desu. Arigatou gozaimashita.
Lina and Nao: ごちそうさまでした! Gochisou sama deshita!
Lina: なおさんの日本語(にほんご)はすごいですね。ところで、なおさんの出身(しゅっしん)は日本ですか。 Nao-san no Nihongo wa sugoi desu ne. Tokorode, Nao-san no shusshin wa Nihon desu ka.
Nao: 私(わたし)の出身はオーストラリア(おーすとらりあ)。でも、私のお母(かあ)さんの出身は日本。それから、お父(とう)さんの出身はオーストラリア。リナ(りな)さんは?出身はオーストラリア? Watashi no shusshin wa Oosutoraria. Demo, watashi no okaasan no shusshin wa Nihon. Sorekara, otousan no shusshin wa Oosutoraria. Rina-san wa? Shusshin wa Oosutoraria?
Lina: いいえ、オーストラリアじゃないです。中国(ちゅうごく)です。 Iie, Oosutoraria janai desu. Chuugoku desu.
Nao: へえ、じゃあ、リナさんの日本語と英語(えいご)もすごいね!
Hee, jaa, Rina-san no Nihongo to Eigo mo sugoi ne!
Lina: ありがとう。でも、ぜんぜん …。
Arigatou. Demo, zenzen…
Nao: ほら、すごい!
Hora, sugoi!
Lina: ハハハ(ははは)…。
Hahaha …


English translation

Lina and Nao: Thanks for the nice meal!
Nao: Excuse me. Can we have the check, please?
Café staff: Yes, thank you. It’s 26 dollars.
Nao: Then, here’s 30 dollars.
Café staff: Okay, here’s (your) change of 4 dollars. Thank you very much.
Lina and Nao: Thank you for the great food!
Lina: Nao, your Japanese is great. By the way, are you from Japan?
Nao: I’m from Australia. But my mum is from Japan. And then my dad is from Australia. What about you, Lina? Are you from Australia?
Lina: No, (I’m) not from Australia. I’m from China.
Nao: I see. Then, your Japanese and English are great, too!
Lina: Thanks, but not at all …
Nao: See, that’s great!
Lina: Haha …

Exercise 2

Listen to the following audio files and repeat each Japanese phrase after the recording. Each phrase is read twice, first at a slow pace and then at a natural pace.


Lina and Nao: ごちそうさま!

Nao: すみません。お会計(かいけい)お願(ねが)いします。

Café staff: はい。ありがとうございます。二十六(にじゅうろく)ドル(どる)です。

Nao: じゃあ、ぜんぶで三十(さんじゅう)ドルでお願いします。

Café staff: はい。四(よん)ドルのおつりです。 ありがとうございました。

Lina and Nao: ごちそうさまでした!

Lina: なおさんの日本語(にほんご)はすごいですね。ところで、なおさんの出身(しゅっしん)は日本ですか。

Nao: 私の出身はオーストラリア(おーすとらりあ)。でも、私のお母さんの出身は日本。お父さんの出身はオーストラリア。リナさんは?出身はオーストラリア?

Lina: いいえ、オーストラリアじゃないです。中国(ちゅうごく)です。

Nao: へえ、じゃあ、リナさんの日本語と英語(えいご)もすごいね!

Lina: ありがとう。でも、ぜんぜん…。

Nao: ほら、すごい!

Lina: * ハハハ(ははは)…。

* The onomatopoeic phrase ハハハ (hahaha) is used to represent laughter in written form, but it may not reflect the actual sound of a person’s laugh!

Lightbulb Icon Discussion points

Let’s take a moment to reflect on these points and share our observations and thoughts!

  1. While the phrase ごちそうさま (gochisou sama) or ごちそうさまでした (gochisou sama deshita) is used to express gratitude after finishing a meal in Japanese, do you happen to know the Japanese phrase used when starting a meal? Also, can you think of any phrases used before and after a meal in your own culture?
  2. During the conversation between Nao and Lina, did you notice that Nao tends to use more casual and shorter sentences? Take some time to list down those sentences and consider the reasons behind their usage.
  3. While Nao tends to use a more casual speech style, you may have noticed that Lina maintains her politeness by using です (desu). Why do you think Lina maintains a formal, polite speech style?
  4. In Japanese-speaking contexts, some might use the term ハーフ (haafu), from the English word ‘half’,  to describe someone like Nao, whose birth parents are of different national or ethnic backgrounds. While ハーフmay appear straightforward, it  is deeply embedded in debates surrounding identity, culture and the changing dynamics of Japanese society. Watch the documentary (about 17 minutes long) created by Shugo Kawok below and explore the societal and cultural implications of the term, as well as its contentious nature.
  5. Nao said ほら、すごい! and praised Lina’s Japanese skills after Lina responded to Nao’s compliment with the phrase でも、ぜんぜん. What factors do you think prompted Nao to reiterate her praise? Which aspects of Lina’s response contributed to this?


Further resources

The following resource created by Shiro Neko Japanese will explain when to use ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) and ありがとうございました (arigatou gozaimashita).



In Japanese communication, humility is valued. People downplay their abilities and achievements, using phrases like ぜんぜんそんなことないです(zenzen sonnakoto naidesu: literally, ‘it’s not like that at all’),  or simply ぜんぜん (zenzen: not at all), to express modesty. It is a way of showing humility and respect, avoiding arrogance. This cultural value fosters harmonious relationships in Japanese society.

For more examples and a deeper understanding, you may find the following resource created by Aki from Japan helpful.




1 “Colorful Papers Hanging on the Tree Branch” by Satoshi Hirayama. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

2 Goal IconGoal Icon” by faisalovers. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.

3 Speech Bubble IconSpeech Bubble Icon” by Geremy Good. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC 0.

4Lightbulb IconLightbulb Icon” by Maxim Kulikov. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.



Aki from Japan. “Be HUMBLE in Japan. Here’s Why.” YouTube video, 3:32. February 26, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hVaqnI8TGg.

Shiro Neko Japanese. “THANK YOU in Japanese—arigatou gozaimasu vs arigatou gozaimashita.” YouTube video, 7:54. April 11, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXB8gF5i2NI.

Shugo Kawok. “A DIVE INTO HAFU’—The Hafu Phenomenon in Japan (Full Documentary).” YouTube video, 17.34. February 21, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj9R3BBGF3o.



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Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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