The following situation: A tourist who is in Japan says "Good day" in Japanese. And it is practically the only word he knows, or maybe he knows a handful of everyday phrases, but in this example he is not yet able to form any sentences by himself.

Also in this situation he will often get a "Oh, you speak very good Japanese" as an answer to his "Good day" from a Japanese.

And yes, it seems to correspond to the character and the good customs in Japan, in general as well as in these or those special cases, to be extremely friendly.

But what is a halfway simple but just appropriate respectful answer from me in such a situation, in English and of course also in Japanese ( pls tell me in latin caracter or in pure hiragana) ?

Would perhaps something of the following be suitable?

  • You are very friendly. or
  • This is too much credit. or
  • Unfortunately, I understand only a few words of Japanese so far.

Or what other answer would be an answer that appreciates my counterpart appropriately and pleases him ?


Providing more alternatives to naruto's answer, you can follow the Japanese culture of "lowering your self" by saying:

JP:「とんでもないです。」(tondemonai desu)

EN: "It's not that good".

Followed up with:

JP:「知【し】ってる単語【たんご】も僅【わず】かしかないです。」(shitteru tango mo wazuka shika nai desu)

EN: "I only know some characters."

  • Rather than trying to pronounce it on your self with latin spelling, you should try google translate's enunciation. It's quite good in terms of pronounciations and Kanji Detection.
    – Matt
    Jul 14 at 7:24
  • 1
    A good tool you might want to use if you're learning the written form of a phrase is nihongodera.com/tools/convert . This converts phrases into furigana(the corresponding hiragana or katakana for a word or phrase of kanji)
    – Matt
    Jul 14 at 7:26
  • THX for the converter link. I used so far j-talk.com/convert for this. From my point of view are readspeaker.jp much better than the google reader for learn the pronunction. The google reader are working well for some languages, a looks not realy tu support japanese. A again, depend on the questin "( pls tell me in latin caracter or in pure hiragana)" please add the latin version of "とんでもないです" and the hiragana and latin version of "知ってる単語も僅かしかないです" THX
    – Eddy763
    Jul 14 at 7:38
  • 8
    – Chocolate
    Jul 16 at 3:01

The safest and easiest response a beginner can use would be どうも (dōmo) or ありがとうございます (arigatō gozaimasu).

(A tourist who knows only a few Japanese words should not try to say something more complicated than these. Of course a fluent speaker can make much wittier and longer responses.)

  • 9
    @Eddy763 I intentionally didn't include the reading of them. If you don't even know how to read them, don't use them.
    – naruto
    Jul 14 at 5:03

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