Saying ‘thank you’ in any language is an essential part of being polite and respectful. In Japanese culture, expressing gratitude is even more important, as it is deeply rooted in the language and culture. Learning how to say ‘thank you’ in Japanese can help you make a good impression and show respect to the people you are talking to. It is also a great way to learn more about the culture and language. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss different ways of expressing gratitude in Japanese, general rules for saying ‘Thank You’ in Japanese and cultural etiquette for expressing gratitude in Japan, including little-known facts.
Different Ways of Expressing Gratitude in Japanese
In Japanese, there are a variety of ways to say ‘thank you’ depending on the situation.
The most common way to say ‘thank you’ in Japanese is “arigatou gozaimasu” or “arigatou”. ‘Arigatou’ is the casual version, while ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ is the more polite and formal version.
The word「ありがとう」（arigatou） originally comes from the adjective 「ありがたい」（arigatai）, which means that it is difficult to find. It expresses gratitude for something that is hard to find.
When you use 「どうも」（doumo）to say 「どうもありがとうございます」（doomo arigatou gozaimasu）” or 「どうもありがとう」（doumo arigatou）, which emphasizes the feeling of gratitude. However, please note that if you use only 「どうも」（doumo）, the degree of gratitude will be less. For example, In the textbook called Irodori, 「どうも」（doumo） is used when the speaker is given candy by a colleague at work.
「ありがとうございます」（arigatoo gozaimasu）and「ありがとうございました」（arigatoo gozaimashita）
In addition to 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu）, you may have heard 「ありがとうございました」（arigatou gozaimashita）. 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu） is a way of thanking someone for something that is in progress, while 「ありがとうございました」（arigatou gozaimashita） is a way of thanking someone for something that has been completed, as 「ます」（masu）and「ました」（mashita）indicates. For example, if you are carrying a large package and someone opens the door for you, you say 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu） before you walk through the door and “Thank you” after you walk through the door. You also say「ありがとうございました」（arigatou gozaimashita） after the class is over.
「すみません」（sumimasen） can also be used to express gratitude, but but in different situations from 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu）or 「ありがとう」（arigatou）.
When someone does something for you and you feel that this has caused inconvenience, you can use the word 「すみません」（sumimasen） to express your gratitude while apologizing. So,「すみません」
In the textbook “Irodori”, “Sumimasen” is used when someone picks up a lost item of the speaker, or gives up his/her seat to the speaker on the train.
If it is difficult to distinguish between the two, you can just use 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu）or「ありがとう」（arigatou）.
Another way to express gratitude is 「感謝します」（kansha shimasu） which literally translates to “I appreciate it”. This is a more formal way of saying thank you than 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu）. I, a native Japanese speakere, often use it in business e-mails.
よろしくお願いします（yoroshiku onegai shimasu）
In English, “thank you” is sometimes used when you ask someone for something. When speaking in Japanese, you should use 「よろしくお願いします」（yoroshiku onegaishimasu） instead of 「ありがとうございます」（arigatou gozaimasu）. in this situation. As you may know, this phrase is also often used at the end of self-introductions.
General Rules for Saying ‘Thank You’ in Japanese
When expressing gratitude in Japanese, it is important to follow certain rules. First, it is important to use the appropriate level of politeness. Generally speaking, ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ is the most polite way to say ‘thank you’ in Japanese, while ‘arigatou’ is the more casual version. It is important to use the appropriate level of politeness depending on the situation.
It is also important to use the appropriate level of formality. For example, when talking to someone who is older or higher in rank than you, it is important to use the formal version of ‘thank you’. When talking to your friends, family, or someone who is younger or lower in rank than you, it is acceptable to use the more casual version.
Cultural Etiquette for Expressing Gratitude in Japan
In Japanese culture, expressing gratitude is very important. It is important to follow certain cultural etiquette when expressing gratitude. It is important to express gratitude at the appropriate time. I probably don’t need to tell you, but for example, if someone gives you a gift, it is important to say ‘thank you’ right away. If someone does something for you, it is also important to express gratitude right away. This shows that you are appreciative of the person’s efforts and that you are grateful for their help.
And one more thing. This may not be well known. If someone does something special for you, it is important to thank them afterwards. For example, if someone treats me to a meal, I will thank them via a messaging application after I get home, and the next time I see them. In the following video from the textbook Irodori, Monica-san thanks her boss when she first arrives at work after taking the day off.
In conclusion, expressing gratitude in Japanese is an essential part of being polite and respectful. It is a great way to learn more about the culture and language, and it can help you make a good impression and show respect to the people you are talking to. There are a variety of ways to say ‘thank you’ in Japanese, and it is important to use the appropriate level of politeness and formality depending on the situation. It is also important to express gratitude at the appropriate time, and there are other ways to show appreciation in Japanese. By following these tips and using the right phrases, you can learn how to express gratitude in Japanese and show appreciation to the people you are talking to.
Thank you for reading this comprehensive guide to expressing gratitude in Japanese!
Please read the following article for more information about the textbook called Irodori, which has been mentioned several times in this article.
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