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On a recent question, 非回答者さん wrote the following comment:

Tokyoites say ごめんください all the time when entering another person's home. I cannot even think of another phrase that could replace it.

Another user was surprised and asked a follow-up question on chat:

Don't people use お邪魔します too when entering another people's house?

They do seem rather similar, so I thought I would ask about them here:

What exactly is the difference between ごめんください and お邪魔します?

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When you visit another person's home, you say ごめんください in order to check whether anybody is home.

When you enter another person's home, you say お邪魔します to the host.

When you leave another person's home, you say お邪魔しました to the host.

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    Just to add some more info to this answer, the very moment that you say ごめんください, you are not entirely sure if anyone is actually home. If someone is home indeed and s/he comes to the door and ask you to come in, that is when you say おじゃまします as you walk in. This is why the two expressions are never interchangeable in any way. You say the former into the air and the latter to an actual person. – l'électeur Sep 25 '14 at 0:43
  • Thank you for adding. This is helpful for Japanese learners. – Yuuichi Tam Sep 25 '14 at 1:49
  • My old book and 大辞泉 say it can be used to say when you say goodbye aswell. I took this to be because you were apologising for any trouble. (大辞泉: 他家を訪問したり辞去したりするときに言うあいさつの語。「—、お邪魔するよ」「では、—」) – Tim Sep 25 '14 at 14:06
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    It's ごめん. The usage is old, we don't usually use では、ごめん now when we say goodbye. – Yuuichi Tam Sep 25 '14 at 15:37

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