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Ordering fast food


Whether you're ordering piza (pee-zah; pizza) with friends or grabbing a sandoicchi (sahn-doh-eet-chee; sandwich) for lunch, you probably spend a fair amount of money enriching fast-food chains. This section tells you how to chumon suru (chooo-mohn soo-roo; order) a hanbaga (hahn-bahh-gahh; hamburger) and furaido poteto (foo-rah-ee-doh poh-teh-toh; fries) in Japanese. Check out some other popular fast-food dishes:

  • chikin baga (chee-keen bahh-gahh; chicken patty)
  • chizu baga (cheee-zoo bahh-gahh; cheeseburger)
  • furaido chikin (foo-rah-ee-doh chee-keen; fried chicken)
  • hotto doggu (hoht-toh dohg-goo; hot dog)
  • miruku sheku (mee-roo-koo shehh-koo; milkshakes)
Now that you have a handle on the menu, practice conjugating the verb chumon suru (chooo-mohn soo-roo; to order). This term is actually a combination of the noun chumon (order) and the verb suru (to do), so you conjugate just the suru part. Yes, it's an irregular verb.

FormPronunciation
chumon suruchooo-mohn soo-roo
chumon shinaichooo-mohn shee-nah-ee
chumon shichooo-mohn shee
chumon shitechooo-mohn shee-teh

You may have to answer a couple of questions when you order at a fast-food joint:

If you hear one of these questions, just answer hai (hah-ee; yes) or ie (eee-eh; no).

Making dinner reservations

The Japanese are gourmets. They often line up in front of popular restaurants, and they don't mind waiting an hour or more. If you don't want to wait in line, make a yoyaku (yoh-yah-koo; reservation) over the phone.

The Japanese say "to make a reservation" by saying "to do a reservation," which is yoyaku o suru (yoh-yah-koo oh soo-roo). Remember that suru (soo-roo; to do) is an irregular verb.

Conjugate yoyaku o suru. Because yoyaku is a noun, all you have to worry about is the suru part.

FormPronunciation
yoyaku o suruyoh-yah-koo oh soo-roo
yoyaku o shinaiyoh-yah-koo oh shee-nah-ee
yoyaku o shiyoh-yah-koo oh shee
yoyaku o shiteyoh-yah-koo oh shee-teh

First, tell the restaurant's host when you want to arrive. (Chapter 3 explains the basics of how to tell time in Japanese, including the concepts of a.m., p.m., and o'clock.) Below table provides the time ranges you're likely to need when making dinner reservations.

A Timetable
TimeJapanesePronunciation
6:00roku-jiroh-koo-jee
6:15roku-ji jugo-funroh-koo-jee jooo-goh-foon
6:30roku-ji hanroh-koo-jee hahn
6:45roku-ji yonjugo-fun roh-koo-jeeyohn-jooo-goh-foon
7:00shichi-jishee-chee-jee
8:00hachi-jihah-chee-jee
9:00ku-jikoo-jee

After you establish a time, let the host know how many people are in your party. Japanese uses a counter (a short suffix that follows a number) to count people. Which counter you use depends on the item you're counting. For example, you can't just say go (goh; five) when you have five people in your party. You have to say go-nin (goh-neen), because -nin (neen) is the counter for people. But watch out for the irregular hitori (hee-toh-ree; one person) and futari (foo-tah-ree; two people).

Below table can help you count people.

Expressing a Number of People
Number of PeopleJapanesePronunciation
1hitorihee-toh-ree
2futarifoo-tah-ree
3san-ninsahn-neen
4yo-ninyoh-neen
5go-ningoh-neen
6roku-ninroh-koo-neen
7nana-ninnah-nah-neen
8hachi-ninhah-chee-neen
9kyu-ninkyooo-neen
10ju-ninjooo-neen

Here's how a typical conversation about a restaurant reservation may go:

Host: Maido arigato gozaimasu. (mah-ee-doh ah-ree-gah-tohh goh-zah-ee-mah-soo; Thank you for your patronage. How can I help you?)
Makoto: Ano, konban, yoyaku o shitai-n-desu ga.(ah-nohh, kohn-bahn, yoh-yah-koo oh shee-tah-een-deh-soo gah; I would like to make a reservation for tonight.)
Host: Hai, arigato gozaimasu. Nan-ji goro. (hah-ee, ah-ree-gah-tohh goh-zah-ee-mah-soo. nahn-jee goh-roh; Yes, thank you. About what time?)
Makoto: Shichi-ji desu. (shee-chee-jee deh-soo; 7:00, please.)
Host: Hai. Nan-nin-sama. (hah-ee. nahn-neen-sah-mah; Certainly. How many people?)
Makoto: Go-nin desu. (goh-neen deh-soo; Five people.)

In Japanese, you often form a statement by using -n-desu (n-deh-soo) in conversation. The effect of -n-desu is to encourage your partner to respond. Saying Yoyaku o shitai-n-desu (yoh-yah-koo oh shee-tah-een-deh-soo; I'd like to make a reservation) sounds much more inviting and friendly than saying Yoyaku o shitai desu because it shows your willingness to listen to the other person's comments.

Use -n-desu in informal conversation but not in writing or public speech.
When you follow a verb with -n-desu, the verb must be in the informal/plain form. Ending your statement with the particle ga (gah; but), as in Yoyaku o shitai-n-desu ga, makes it clear that you're waiting for the other person to reply.



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