Japanese is chock full of procedural phrases that sound incredibly awkward when translated too literally into English. While many of these may seem unnecessary, they are critical to speaking more natural, fluent Japanese. Even the most basic phrases in Japanese are sometimes far more “play-by-play” than their English equivalents.

For example, when people leave the house in Japan, they say itte kimasu (行ってきます). This literally means “I’m going and will come back.” There are other alternative farewells such as mata ne (またね, see you later) and jā ne (じゃあね, later!), but itte kimasu is the most basic option. This is more of a direct description of the action that you are about to perform than we would use in English: As you step out the door and say “Itte kimasu,” you are announcing exactly what you will be doing when your foot lands outside.

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