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いってきます, いってらっしゃい, ただいま & おかえり: Use & Distinction in Japanese


いってきます、いってらっしゃい、ただいま、おかえり:Differentiation & Use in Japanese

Welcome to the next video and article series with tutor Hidee! In this video, Hidee talks about four very common expressions in Japanese: いってきます、いってらっしゃい、ただいま and おかえり. In today’s lesson you will learn how to differentiate between these expressions and how to use them naturally in daily spoken Japanese.

Table of Contents
[Short Introduction]
[いってきます & いってらっしゃい]
[ただいま & おかえり]

[Short Introduction]

The phrases, ittekimasu, itterasshai, tadaima, okaerinasai symbolize the Japanese spirit so well that once you grasp the nuance of their meaning you will have a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. Although the words are easily translated to English, the Japanese spirit behind them is somewhat lost in translation.

[いってきます & いってらっしゃい]

Let’s start with the two expressions “いってきます” and “いってらっしゃい”. If they are about to leave a place, mainly their home or the office, a Japanese person will say “いってきます” to the remaining people. The closest and most literal translation is “I’ll go and I come back”, but a more natural translation would be “See you later”.

People remaining inside the home or the office then reply by saying “いってらっしゃい”. This literally means “Please go and come back”. This phrase is also close to a “See you later”, but can also translate to “Have a good day”, or “Take care”. However, none of those expressions truly express the spirit behind the word.

“いってきます” expresses that “I will be going now, but do not worry, I will safely return”, while “いってらっしゃい” indicates that “You will be leaving soon but please do come back safely”.


A: I am going to buy ice cream.
B: Thanks! See you later.

“いってきます” is not a simple goodbye and should not be employed as such. It implies that you will return to the place you are leaving, hence the “いってらっしゃい” as a reply, from the person waiting for you. Although there is no absolute rule, most of the time “いってきます” comes first. Exchanging these two terms emit a strong and warm feeling of expecting to return back safely to the place where one belongs.


[ただいま & おかえり]

Next, let’s move on to “ただいま” and “おかえり”. Similar to “いってきます” and “いってらっしゃい”, the two phrases that go hand-in-hand, “ただいま” and “おかえり” express one’s safe return.


A: I am back! I bought us Vanilla ice creams.
B: Welcome back! Thank you!

Literally, “ただいま” means “Right now”. However, in this specific context, the phrase is the shortened version of “ただいまかえりました”, which translates to “I came home right now”. “おかえり” and the polite version “おかえりなさい” mean “Welcome home”, “Welcome back”. These two lovely phrases express the feelings of “I am back, safely” and “You have finally returned, welcome back”. It gives one a warm feeling that someone has been waiting for one’s safe return.

These expressions can be learned quickly, as they are such a deeply ingrained part of Japanese culture that they are frequently used by everyone in daily life and subsequently in fiction as well. The next time you are reading a Manga or watching an Anime in Japanese, watch out for all the different forms.

That’s it for today. If you have any questions, you can always clear them up by booking a lesson with one of our native Japanese tutors. See you next time!

単語たんごリスト(Vocabulary list)
いってきます See you later, I’m leaving
いってらっしゃい See you later, take care
おかえり(なさい) Welcome home, welcome back
ただいま I’m home, I just came back

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