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I will be in Japan in a few weeks and I am trying to learn the basic to be as polite as possible.

One of the first things I did was try some basic stuff with Google Translate but I feel lost already.

When I try to translate hello from english to japanese I get: こんにちは

When I try Hello I get: もしもし

Why is there a difference, is this a Google issue or there is a real difference between both? Which one should I use to say: Hello

Thanks!

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Hi Jordan and welcome to JLU. There is clearly a difference between the two, and explaining it could make a valid (albeit extremely basic) question. However, the way your question is currently phrased, your question is asking about an external software tool, not Japanese and it therefore off-topic for JLU. Please edit your question accordingly. Moreover, I hope you do realise that Google Translate is nowhere near accurate enough to provide you useful help in learning even basic Japanese. –  Dave Jan 26 '13 at 2:01
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@Dave The body of the question is about Japanese and not an external software tool. –  Earthliŋ Jan 26 '13 at 2:06
    
Thanks, I will try to rephrase, but as @user1205935 said, the main question was what is the difference between こんにちは and もしもし. UPDATE: snailplane did the rephrase. Thanks! –  JordanBelf Jan 26 '13 at 2:25
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I'd like to second the idea that you shouldn't try to learn Japanese from Google Translate. Please see the question Resources for learning Japanese. –  snailboat Jan 26 '13 at 2:53
    
Thanks @snailplane you all are right, I just wanted to get a glimpse at it and when I found out that Hello and hello was different I was(am) a little bit scared of trying to learn it. Buy I will give it a try.I love trying to speak the main language of the places I travel to. –  JordanBelf Jan 26 '13 at 4:21
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

こんにちは is "Hello!" or "Good day!", a greeting for meeting someone in any sort of circumstance.

もしもし is how you answer a phone. Usually both parties say もしもし in turn, before the caller identifies himself ("Hi, it's John"). Outside phone conversations, it is also used to get someone's attention, but I feel it is quite direct, more like "Hey!". (To get someone's attention, the better alternative would be to clear your throat, say え~っと, or すみません, or any combination of these three options.)

To summarize, use こんにちは when you mean "Hello!" and もしもし only when answering the phone.

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Thanks! I get it now –  JordanBelf Jan 26 '13 at 2:26
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For もしもし, it need not be a phone. It is usable when calling out to someone (usually a stranger) around you. –  Dono Jan 26 '13 at 3:02
    
@Dono I did mention that in the second paragraph. Do you feel that, as a general rule for a beginner, using もしもし for phone conversations and こんにちは for everything else is too simplistic? –  Earthliŋ Jan 26 '13 at 23:30
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