Good afternoon / Hello!
kon nichi wa

こんにちは is probably the first word everyone learned in Japanese, it means “Good afternoon!” or just plain old, “Hello!” But have you ever considered what こんにちは literally means and why we use は for “wa” of “konnichiwa”?

The kanji for こんにちは is こんにちは. 今日 is usually read as きょう, and both こんにち and きょう mean “today”. Compared to きょう, こんにち sounds more traditional, therefore, こんにち is often used in formal speeches, such as a speech in a wedding, a formal parties, or at a ceremony.

は of こんにちは is the topic particle は (wa). This is why we say “konnichi wa”, and not “konnichi ha”. こんにちは is an abbreviation derived from こんにちはごげんいかがですか (=How are you today?). We see the exact same thing with the phrase こんばんは, or “Good evening.”

Sometimes, especially younger generations, people write this word as こんにちわ (or こんばんわ for ‘Good Evening’). The わ at the end here is an intentional mistake because it just makes the phrase a bit cuter and funnier!

Example Sentences
  • こんにちは。おひさしぶりですね。

    Hello! Long time no see!

  • こんにちわ。げんにしてる?

    Hi! How’s it going?