The Meaning of “Tadaima (ただいま)” & Everything You Need to Know

The Meaning of “Tadaima” and Everything You Need to Know - EDOPEN Japan

As we have discussed, the phrase used when you are leaving for another place is “ittekimasu”. In this article we will learn what to say when we return to the place, which is “tadaima”.

For me, the moment when I say “tadaima” to my family can be one of the great moments of the day. It is always great to know that someone is waiting for me when I come home from a long day at school or work. What do you think?

In today’s article we will discuss the meaning and intonation of “tadaima” and some conversations using “tadaima”.

In addition, the opposite phrase of “tadaima (ただいま)” is “ittekimasu (いってきます)” as stated previously. Both of which are very common in everyday Japanese conversation. Read more about ittekimasu below:

Read Also:
How to Use “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu”?
What is the Meaning of “Hajimemashite (はじめまして)”?
Everything You Need to Know about “Daijoubu (だいじょうぶ)”

Take a Look into “Tadaima”

Take a Look into "Tadaima" - EDOPEN Japan

The literal translation of ‘tadaima’ is ‘just now’ or ‘at this moment’, and you can say ‘tadaima’ when you are back home. You might be a little confused now. Why do people say “just now” when they come back?

Actually, this phrase is an abbreviation of a longer sentence, 『ただいま帰りました (tadaima kaerimashita)〉, which can be translated literally as “I’m just back here now”. That makes sense, right?

In everyday life, people just say “tadaima” instead of finishing the rest of the sentence. “Tadaima” is emphasised because people want to convey the message that they are “just” returning to the place.

The Etymology

Let’s break the whole sentence down into two parts, ‘tadaima’ and ‘kaerimashita’, so that we can look at it more closely and understand it better!

(1) ただいま (Tadaima)
While “tadaima” is usually written in hiragana as ただいま, it can also be written in kanji as 只今.

只 (tada) means “only” and “just”.
今 (ima) means “now”.

Since it was mentioned in the first part that the literal meaning of “tadaima” can be “just now” or “at this moment”, here are three examples using “tadaima”.

  • 彼はただいま電話中です。     
    He is on the phone at the moment.
  • 彼はただいま名古屋に出張中です。 
    He has gone to Nagoya on business.
  • ただいま仕事中です。       
    I am just in the middle of work.

In the examples above we can see that by using “tadaima” we can express “someone is doing something at the moment”. It is also important for you to know that most of the time the expression “tadaima” is used in formal occasions, such as in a business phone call, when you are talking to your client or customer, and so on.

(2) 帰りました (kaerimashita)

帰る (kaeru) is a dictionary form of this segment, meaning “to go back” or “to return somewhere”.
帰りました (kaerimashita) is the formal past tense of “kaeru”. This is also one of the most commonly used verbs in everyday life. Here are the examples in the formal form (-masu form).

  • 明日日本へ帰ります。  
    I will go back to Japan tomorrow.
  • 何時に帰りますか?   
    What time will you go home?
  • 私は15時に帰ります。 
    I’m going home at 3pm.

How to Answer “Tadaima”?

How to Answer "Tadaima"? - EDOPEN Japan

(1) おかえり Okaeri

The fixed response for “tadaima” is おかえり (okaeri), and it can also be written as お帰り with kanji.

“Okaeri” is an abbreviation derived from the phrase お帰りなさい (okaerinasai). Those of you who have learnt a few fixed expressions in Japanese may have learnt that most phrases have a formal and an informal form. Here is a little tip. Most of the time, the longer version of an expression is the formal form. Next time you have trouble distinguishing, try it!

The person who just came back.I’m back.tadaima kerimashitatadaima
The person who is already there.Welcome back.okaeri nasaiokaeri

The Magic of “Tadaima” with Various Intonations

One of the magic of language is that it can convey different messages by putting emotions into one expression. In everyday life, the most common occasion when we say “tadaima” is when we go home. Imagine you had a long day at school or at work. Maybe something good happened to you that day.

Or maybe it was not your day. When you come home, you can say “tadaima” in different intonations to let your family know how you feel after a long day out.

The Conversation of “Tadaima”

The Conversation of "Tadaima" - EDOPEN Japan

1. Conversation between Ken and his mother

I’m home!

Welcome back! How was your day at school?

I had a lot of fun today! In the PE class, our team won in the soccer game.

That’s great!

2. Ken just come back.

I’m home! I’m starving. What do we have for dinner today?

Welcome back! I made your favorite hamburg steak today!


Remember to wash your and before eating.


3. Ken had a bad school day.

I’m home!

Welcome back! What happened? You looks depressed.

Nothing happened.

No way. Your face says everything.

Actually, the result of test is worse than I thought, though I studied very hard.

It’s alright. Just do your best next time.

4. Jun came back to the office after visiting clients. Yuki is his boss.

I’m back!

Welcome back! How was your visit to the client?

They had great reaction to our proposal. I think they will approve.

Nice job!


If you have watched Japanese dramas before, you will notice that sometimes when the character comes home and there is no one waiting for him, he will still say “tadaima” into the air.

Do you think people really do that in real life? I asked my friend, only one or two people do. If you want to know, try asking your Japanese friend next time!

  • “Tadaima” is used by the person returning from another place.
  • The phrase can be translated literally as “just now”, while the meaning of the phrase is closer to “I am back”.
  • “Tadaima” is the abbreviation for “tadaima kaerimashita”.
  • On formal occasions, it is much more appropriate to say “tadaima kaerimashita”.
  • “Okaeri(nasai)” is the answer to “tadaima”.

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Representative Director of Reboot Japan Co., Ltd., which operates EDOPEN JAPAN. Founded the company in 2018, which provides Japanese language education and assistance for studying in Japan. Started the company after living with international students at a Japanese language school. He enjoys learning about new people and cultures and has lived in Australia and Malaysia. Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Sophia University.