Basic Japanese Words List and English Meaning | Japanese Vocabulary List With Translation and Romaji PDF

Free PDF download of 1000 basic Japanese words

Scroll further down the page to find the download for the PDF.

Okay, so the other day I generated the most common 300 words in anime vocabulary list which you can find here. I thought at the time that not everybody is interested in anime and that the non-otaku group out there would probably prefer a standardized list of basic vocab that they can use to begin their studies. Hence why I put together this PDF as well. 

This list differs from the anime list in the respect that these words aren’t necessarily the most common words in the language. Nonetheless, they are incredibly basic words that a student of the Japanese language definitely needs to know.

The list contains somewhere around 1000 words and probably more. It contains nouns, adjectives and even bits of grammar. Pretty much everything you need to start off. However, as I mentioned in the previous post, I don’t actually recommend solely using vocabulary lists.

I would highly recommend learning words in sentences. Why? To put it simply, vocabulary lists can be very boring to use which means you are highly likely to get annoyed with them and stop using them.

Secondly, although you may have the translation of each word, you still don’t really get a full idea as to how its used or its nuances in Japanese. To really nail this you have to see the words in real, native sentences.

Thirdly, you have absolutely no context to help you with memorization. When using a sentence to learn a word, often times you will have chosen that sentence from a situation where you roughly understand what’s going on or you roughly understand the sentence itself (for example if you read a translation of it). This extra information makes it so much easier for you to get the gist of the words, grammar and nuances of the sentence and the components that build it up. (no context = extremely hard to learn).

How I Use Vocabulary Lists

For me, I use vocabulary lists in combination with sentence mining. Sentence mining is just what it sounds like. It’s the process of finding native sentences that you want to learn. These can be from books, subtitles, even music lyrics. The idea is that you get a sentence you really like and want to remember, then learning and remembering that sentence becomes a heck of a lot easier.

To work out how to do this, check out the video below from Benjiro. Tip: You are going to need to get Anki if you don’t have it. You can download it for free here: Anki

If you want to make it super efficient then take a look at my technique that involves the use of what I like to call “Sentence Banks“. It can make the whole process a lot easier and fun for you by allowing you to study from your favourite TV shows and films, so I highly suggest you check it out. 

Learning to Read Japanese

I take it that most of you that will be using this list are here to learn how to read Japanese. If you don’t already know kanji then I highly recommend checking out Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig. Without it I don’t think I could have learnt to read Japanese, as the thought of learning 3000+ kanji scared me to death, but this book breaks it down for you in such a way that makes learning 2000 kanji in 3 months totally doable. I managed to get it on Amazon for a good price back when I first started learning Japanese.

I included romaji in this PDF but please don’t rely on it. Learning to read real Japanese is very important despite how big of a challenge it may seem.

You can download the PDF from the link below:

Download the 1000+ Basic Japanese Words With English Translations PDF

Free PDF download of 1000 basic Japanese words



I hope the vocabulary list is useful. Comment below if you have any questions 🙂

Click here for more information on learning Japanese


By Matthew Hawkins
Follow me on Twitter

Here are some of my favorite tools and sites for learning Japanese

Thank you for reading this blog post, which I hope you found useful for learning Japanese. Here are some of the most useful websites that I’ve found for finding Japanese content to use for immersion as well as some really useful learning tools to help you through your Japanese studies. Some of these are affiliate links which just means that if you decide to use these sites by clicking the following links, then I will earn a commission. But honestly speaking, these are the sites that I use and recommend language learners, even my friends, to use anyway.

Anki Tools: To get started, I really like Migaku for Anki. By itself, Anki is already a super useful tool for language learners but Migaku allows for integration with websites like YouTube and Netflix, allowing it’s users to create flashcards from the shows and videos that they are watching, as they are watching them. If you use my link you can get an extra month for free.

Speaking Practice: For this I absolutely love iTalki. There are thousands of Japanese teachers on the platform that are available at all times of the day to have conversations with you, in Japanese. Some teachers take a more traditional approach while others are just there to chat, these are the ones I would recommend if you are looking to improve your conversational Japanese. Lessons start from just $5 and there’s no long term commitment, I highly recommend them.

Immersion: I’ve used a lot of different earphones / headphones over the years but by far the one that has come out on top is the NENRENT S570. This is a singular in-ear earphone that matches your skin tone to keep it discrete, meaning you can listen to the language you are learning while at work, or school. For a full list of tools and gadgets I recommend for maximizing your immersion time, check out this blog post.

2 Replies to “Basic Japanese Words List and English Meaning | Japanese Vocabulary List With Translation and Romaji PDF”

    1. Yeah, although I made a few changes here and there to make it easier for people. I also added a lot more words and converted it to PDF so that people could get access to it easier. I’ve clearly given credit though so don’t panic aha :p

Comments are closed.