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


  • 2
    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
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 2:01
  • 1
    @Dave The body of the question is about Japanese and not an external software tool.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 2:25
  • 2
    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.
    – user1478
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 3:02
  • 1
    I don't think こんにちは is appropriate in any circumstance; for instance, night, or very early in the morning.
    – Kurausukun
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 22:18
  • もしもし is also used on intercoms, door phones, and the like
    – leo
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 17:03

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