How are you in Japanese: 7 Things You Need to Know

The Japanese language will be a lot more interesting if we know and fluently practice it every day. The more sentences and phrases we know, the easier it will be to master them. Surely, you’ve heard the Japanese expression 元気ですか? genki desu ka? or お元気ですか ogenki desu ka? when you watch Anime, J-dramas so on, right? When you try to translate it into google translate, it means “how are you?”. Then, the question is how do you use it?

Get through this article, you would get a complete explanation useful for you to grasp the meaning of genki desu ka itself. In order to make you would easily understand the use of this greeting expression of genki desu ka, let’s see the full explanation as to the following..

1. The Meaning of “Genki desu ka”

As briefly mentioned beforehand, Genki or Ogenki desu ka is an expression of greeting or 挨拶 (aisatsu) that is quite often used in everyday conversation in Japan. This aisatsu or greeting in Japanese means “how are you?” or “are you well?” which is used to ask the situation or news from the other person. This aisatsu, both genki desu ka or ogenki desu ka is usually used when you meet people you haven’t seen in a long time. However, please note that the greeting of ogenki desu ka is mostly used when writing letters, e-mails, or when calling someone.

Please take a look at the conversation below:

A: Genki desu ka? 元気ですか?

     How are you? / Are you healthy?

B: Hai, genki desu. はい、元気です。

      Yes, I’m fine.

or

A: Ogenki desu ka? お元気ですか?

     How are you? / Are you well?

B: Hai, Okagesamade, genki desu. おかげさまで、元気です。

    Yes, Thanks to God’s grace, I’m fine.

Here, there are 2 ways to say genki desu ka in Japanese, just using it that way as genki desu ka or adding ‘o’ before ‘genki’ to be ogenki desu ka. When you are using ‘O’ before ‘genki’, it will be more polite and formal than without using it. You can use it for your superiors, boss, or someone you respect. And when you are not using ‘O’ before ‘genki’, the meaning would be casual and you can use it for your friend or someone with similar positions as you.

Moreover, there is a new phrase on how to respond when someone gives a question for you using this phrase “Genki desu ka?” Then, you can answer like in the conversation, using おかげさまで、元気です。or Okagesamade, genki des.

Okagesamamade is a Japanese expression used to express appreciation for someone’s help leading to a positive outcome. In this case, we use it also to express our gratitude to God’s grace to make our body healthy. In addition, “ogenki desu ka” actually sometimes, only be used for people who haven’t seen the speaker in a long time. Meanwhile, the phrase “おかげさまで、元気です” or “hai, okage sama de, genki desu” is used in response to “ogenki desu ka”.

Again, most of the words “ogenki desu ka” are only used as greetings in writing letters, e-mails, etc. (It is rarely used in everyday conversation). The ‘O’ or ‘Go’ is the prefix that is used as the honorific expression that is usually added before some specific words to express politeness and respect of the speaker.

In addition, this speech can be used by the speaker to general people or non-specific people through one-way conversations such as TV shows, speeches, etc. On the other hand, it is considered inappropriate to use this greeting with people who meet the speaker frequently, such as school friends, work colleagues, or family members who live together at home, or people you often meet, because it will give a stiff and strange impression.

The prefix “O” in “ogenki desu ka” is used to smooth the word “genki” which means “healthy”. “desu” also shows subtlety to the other person so that this speech can be used as a polite greeting.

As the supplement special for you, to deepen your understanding and broaden your preference regarding “genki desu ka”, here are the other expressions that can be used similarly with genki desu ka or usually follow genki desu ka when it is said practically in the daily life.

2. The expression of “Ogenki deshita ka” and “Hai, okage sama des, genki desu”

The expression “ogenki deshita ka” is the past form of “ogenki desu ka”. The greeting “ogenki deshita ka” is also used to ask the condition of interlocutor who has not formally met the speaker in a long time. The difference between “ogenki deshita ka” and “ogenki desu ka” is the tense and the situation. In general, “Ogenki deshita ka” is used to ask the state of the interlocutor as long as the speaker and the interlocutor have not met at a certain time in the past.

It means, ”have you been well” or “were you all right?”. In addition, generally “ogenki deshita ka” is spoken directly to the other person in conversation. On the other hand, “Ogenki desu ka” asks the state of the interlocutor when the speaker meets the other person, or “ogenki desu ka” is usually used in writing such as letters. Just use “hai, okage sama de, genki desu” which means “Yes, Thanks to God’s grace, I am well” in response to both “ogenki deshita ka” and “ogenki desu ka”.

3. The Expression “Ohisashiburi desu and hisashiburi desu”

The words “お久しお久しぶりです ohisashiburi desu” or “久しぶり久しぶりです hisashiburi desu” are the spoken phrase when the speaker meets the other person who has not seen the speaker for a long time. “Ohisashiburi desu” expresses joy when the speaker meets the other person. This greeting is often connected with the phrase “ogenki deshita ka” which asks the interlocutor’s condition mentioned above as a greeting “how are you” such as “おひさしぶりです、お元気でしたか (ohisashiburi desu, ogenki deshita ka)” which states “long time no see, were you good?”

The “o” prefix of “ohisashiburi desu” is used to soften the word “hisashiburi” which means “long time no see” or “It’s been a while’ similarly as ‘ogenki’ as stated beforehand. Meanwhile, “desu” also shows politeness to the other person, so that this greeting can be used as a polite greeting as well.

“Hisashiburi” is an informal greeting of “ohisashiburi desu” that is spoken when greeting people who have not seen the speaker in a long time. Because “hisashiburi” is an informal form of “ohisashiburi desu” and has a friendly feel, this greeting can only be used for people who are closely related to the speaker such as schoolmates, colleagues at work, etc. who have not seen the speaker for a long time. On the other hand, “hisashiburi” is not appropriate for people whose age/status is higher than the speaker or people who are not familiar with the speaker.

4. About “Gobusata shite orimasu”

The expression “ごぶさたしております。or Gobusata shite orimasu” is also used when the speaker meets the interlocutor who has not seen the speaker for a long time, it means “It has been a while since (since…)”. “Gobusata shite orimasu” shows apologies when the speaker meets the other person because the speaker has not had time to meet the other person for a long time. This greeting includes respectful language, a kind of self-deprecating language, so it is appropriate to use it for people who are older than the speaker, have a higher status than the speaker, people who are respected by the speaker, or in the business world.

5. The distinction between “Ohisashiburi desu” and “Gobusata shite orimasu”

Essentially, “oisashiburi desu” and “gobusata shite orimasu” can both be used to politely say “long time no see”. Nevertheless, in general, “oisashiburi desu” is more likely to be spoken to people who are on the same level as the speaker or lower than the speaker although it can be used in general terms. It’s best if you don’t say “oisashiburi desu” to people of a higher status than the speaker because there are still words that are more appropriate than “oisashiburi desu”.

Meanwhile, “gobusata shite orimasu” includes a very respectful language, a kind of self-deprecating language, so it is appropriate to use it for people who are older than the speaker, have a higher status than the speaker, people who are respected by the speaker, or especially in the business world.

6. Expression “Genki?” and “Genki datta?”

“元気? Genki?” is the informal greeting of “ogenki desu ka?” which asks the interlocutor’s condition such as “how are you?” in Indonesian. Similarly, “元気だった? genki datta?” also the informal greeting of “ogenki deshita ka” which is the past form of “ogenki desu ka?”. “Genki?” and “genki datta?” both are commonly used both in conversation and in writing intimately when greeting people who have not seen each other for a long time. The meaning is also almost the same as “genki desuka” and “ogenki deshita ka”.

However, these two greetings can only be used for people who are very closely related to the speaker such as school friends, colleagues, etc. who have not seen each other for a long time due to various reasons such as illness, moving to another place, etc., or especially to old friends such as school alumni, former co-workers, ex-girlfriends who haven’t seen the speaker in a long time. Instead, please keep in your mind that “genki?” and “genki datta?” it is not appropriate to say to people who are older than the speaker, people whose status is higher than the speaker, people who are not familiar with the speaker, or people who often meet with the speaker.

7. Expression “Saikin Dou?”

The word “最近、どう? Saikin dou?” is said to ask the condition of the interlocutor recently in a friendly manner. “Saikin dou?” It is also informal and can only be used with people who are close or well acquainted with the speaker. On the other hand, “saikin dou” is not appropriate for people whose age/status is higher than the speaker or people who are not familiar with the speaker.

The adverb of time “saikin” has the meaning of “recently”, while the question word “dou” indicates the question “how?”. In addition, the correct translation for “saikin dou” in English is “what’s up”.

Last but not least, those are some explanations of the meaning, and how to use the greeting expression ggenki desu ka along with some expressions related to genki desu ka. It can be concluded that genki desuka is a greeting to ask someone’s news or condition casually.

Hopefully, the explanation above is easy for you to understand and useful for you.

Conclusion

To wrap this article, let’s take a glance again with the following points:

  • Genki desu ka is a casual aisatsu or greeting in Japanese.
  • Genki desu ka means “how are you?” or “are you well?” in English.
  • Genki desu ka is used to ask the situation or news from the other person.
  • Both genki desu ka or ogenki desu ka are usually used when you meet people you haven’t seen in a long time. However, ogenki desu ka is more formal.
About Eka 72 Articles
Hi, I’m Eka. I’m one of the awardees of the 2016 MEXT College to College Recommendation Scholarship. I completed the one-year JASSO-Tokyo Japanese course (2016-2017) and won second place in the Japanese speech competition held internally at JASSO at that time. After that, I continued my education at NIT. Akashi College and earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree after 2 years of study. I love teaching children English and Japanese, writing blogs, designing graphics, and creating digital content. I hope you enjoy the knowledge I share here based on the experience I gained in Japan for over 5 years. Thanks!