Speakin' Japanese: On the phone


Speakin' Japanese: On the phone

by: Tetsuo Nakahara | .
Stripes Japan | .
published: February 17, 2015

Talking over the telephone can be quite a challenge when using a second language because you cannot see facial expressions. Here are some useful Japanese phrases to get you started. Give a Japanese friend a jingle and try them out.

“Moshi moshi” = Hello
(Used only for starting a conversation by phone – both when calling and answering the phone. [If you say “mushi mushi,” it means bug, bug. So, be sure to pronounce it correctly].)

“Sato san wa imasuka?” = Is Ms./Mr. Sato there?

“Hai, watashi desu” = Yes, this is she/he. (Literally, “yes, I am.”)

“Omachi kudasai” = Please hold.

“Sumimasen, Nihongo ga wakarimasen” = I’m sorry, I don’t understand Japanese.

“Sumimasen, machigae mashita” = I’m sorry, I have the wrong number.

“Mata denwa shimasu” = I will call back later.

“Denpa ga arimasen” = I am losing the signal. (When talking on a cell phone.)

“Denwa” = Telephone

“Keitai denwa” or “keitai” = Cell phone or cell


Pronunciation key: “A” is short (like “ah”); “E” is short (like “get”); “I” is short (like “it”); “O” is long (like “old”); “U” is long (like “tube”); and “AI” is a long “I” (like “hike”). Most words are pronounced with equal emphasis on each syllable, but “OU” is a long “O” with emphasis on that syllable.

Tags: News
Related Content: Speakin' Japanese: Introduction/Greeting, Speakin' Japanese: Just ask, Speakin' Japanese: Winter words, Speakin' Japanese: The holiday season, Speakin' Japanese: Asking for directions, Speakin' Japanese: Restaurant Talk