50+ Introductory Phrases in Japanese

By | May 17, 2021

When learning a foreign language, often just learning vocabulary is insufficient; we have to figure out word order and which words go well with other words, among other things.

One thing I’ve found useful in my language learning is to memorize introductory phrases. This is because they can often be used to easily start a sentence without having to worry too much about grammar from the beginning. As you get more advanced, as you start saying the introductory phrase you can simultaneously start forming the next words that will follow that.

Here’s a list of introductory phrases in Japanese, including many that I use in daily life. Some of these can be used in the middle of a sentence as well, but I will try to give them in the simplest form they can be used. I decided to focus more on casual expressions, but you can use some of these in more polite language (changing the だ=>です as needed).

  • 悪いけど (warui kedo) => I’m sorry, but… [literally: “(it’s) bad, but…”]
  • すみませんが (sumimasen ga) => I’m sorry, but… [more polite than the above]
  • 思ったんだけど (omotta n da kedo) => I was thinking, and…
  • 実は (jitsu wa) => In fact… [often used when saying something surprising]
  • そう言えば (sou ieba) => Speaking of that…
  • 気持ち分かるんだけど (kimochi wakaru n dakedo) => I understand how you feel, but…
  • 気持ちは嬉しいけど (kimochi wa ureshii kedo) => I appreciate the thought, but…
  • 正直に言うと (shoujiki ni iu to) => To be honest…
  • ぶっちゃけ (bucchake) => To tell the truth…  (similar to the above, but more casual/slang)
  • 厳密に言えば (genmitsu ni ieba) => Strictly speaking…
  • 別にいいけど (betsu ni ii kedo) => I don’t really mind, but… [can be used when the speaker actually does mind]
  • それがさ (sore ga sa) => About that… [often used when saying something negative or surprising]
  • 幸いにも (saiwai ni mo) => Fortunately…
  • 残念ながら (zannen nagara) => Unfortunately…
  • やってみたんだけど (yatte mita n da kedo) => I tried it, but…
  • 僕が思うには (boku ga omou ni wa) => I think that…  [you can swap out first person pronoun for whatever you prefer: 私, etc.]
  • 僕にとっては (boku ni totte wa) => To me…  [similar to the above]
  • 何があっても (nani ga atte mo) => No matter what happens…
  • なんだかんだ言っても (nan da kan da itte mo) => In the end…
  • 最終的には (saishuuteki ni wa) => In the end… [sounds a bit more formal than the above]
  • それだけじゃなくて (sore dake ja nakute) => It’s not only that, but also…
  • それに (sore ni) => In addition…
  • それで (sore de) => And then…
  • 少なくとも (sukunaku to mo) => At least… [often used before a first person pronoun]
  • 上手くいけば (umaku ikeba) => If things go well…
  • 下手をすると (heta wo suru to) => If things don’t go well…
  • 出来れば (dekireba) => If possible… [often used when making a request]
  • よかったら (yokattara) => If you don’t mind… [literally: “if it’s good…”]
  • そうじゃないと (sou ja nai to) => otherwise… [literally: “if that is not so…”]
  • つまり (tsumari) => In other words…
  • 要するに (you suru ni) => In short…
  • 単刀直入にいうと (tantou chokunyuu ni iu to) => Put frankly…
  • その前に (sono mae ni) => Before that…
  • 最初は (saisho wa) => First… [often used when talking about steps to do something]
  • その場合は (sono baai wa) => In that case…
  • だったら (dattara) => In that case… [similar to above, but literally means just “if it is”]
  • 結論から言うと (ketsuron kara iu to) => To get to the point… [literally: “to say from the conclusion”]
  • どう考えても (dou kangaete mo) => No matter how you look at it… [often used for negative statements]
  • いくら何でも (ikura nan de mo) => No matter how you look at it… [similar to the above]
  • 話変わるけど (hanashi kawaru kedo) => To change the subject…
  • 余談だけど (yodan da kedo) => To digress… [similar to the above]
  • その代わりに (sono kawari ni) => Instead / In exchange for that…
  • っていうか (tte iu ka) => Or rather… [often used when struggling to find the right way to express something]
  • だからって (dakara tte) => Just because of that… [often used to express something isn’t necessarily the case]
  • 長い目で見ると (nagai me de miru to) => In the long term… [literally: “If (you) look with a long eye”]
  • そりゃそうだけど (sorya sou da kedo) => That’s true, but… [literally:”That is that, but…”]
  • こう見えても (kou miete mo) => I may look like this, but (I’m actually)…
  • そうは言っても (sou wa itte mo) => Having said that…
  • 言っとくけど (ittoku kedo) => Just to let you know… [sometimes used with a condescending tone]
  • こんなこと言いたくないんだけど (konna koto iitakunai n dakedo) => I don’t want to say this, but…
  • どの道 (dono michi) => Either way…
  • くどいようだけど (kudoi you da kedo) => I’m sorry to repeat myself, but…
  • それじゃ (sore ja) => Has several meanings:
    • In that case…
    • Well then…
    • Goodbye.
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4 thoughts on “50+ Introductory Phrases in Japanese

  1. Ian Symonds

    Great! Very relevant as I need to make my Japanese more natural! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Julius Jacobsen

    それだけじゃなくて (sore dake ja nakute) => It’s only that, but also…
    I think you made a mistake here, it means “It’s *not* only that, but also…”

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks for pointing that out! You are right, I accidentally omitted “not”. I just corrected it.

      Reply

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