Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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A word of gratitude is what you get when you help someone in need or give them a gift of something. The phrase “thank you” exists in all languages. In Japan, the word “Arigato (thank you)” is commonly used in Japanese. There are actually lots of other ways of expressing thanks in Japanese, and all of them are commonly used in Japanese conversation. In this article, we will introduce various thank you phrases that are commonly heard in Japanese conversation.
Arigato (ありがとう) is the most basic way to express gratitude to someone in Japanese. Arguably, the word “Arigato” is a commonly known Japanese phrase of gratitude around the world. Therefore, people who haven’t learned the Japanese language before already know this phrase. Arigatou is often used with family and friends because it is relatively frank.
Tanaka-san, furo wo wakashite oita yo.
(Mr. Tanaka, I prepared a bath for you.)
Arigato, ato de furo ni hairu ne!
(Thank you. I’ll take a bath later. )
2. Arigato gozaimasu
If you want to thank a superior or an older person with politeness, it is better to use “Arigato gozaimasu (ありがとうございます)”. This is because “gozaimasu” is known as a polite expression, making the whole sentence seem more polite. This phrase is also often used to thank a stranger for helping you out, and is a very useful phrase to remember when you are traveling in Japan.
Sumimasen, kokohe douyatte iku no desuka?
(Excuse me, how can I get to this place?)
Koko kara ni-hyaku metoru saki ni arimasu.
(It is just 200 meters from here.)
Wakari mashita. Arigato gozaimasu!
(Alright. Thank you very much!)
“Dōmo (どうも)” is a more informal way of saying “arigato”. It is often used between close colleagues and business partners with whom one has had many transactions, and is a casual way of expressing gratitude. However, it is too frank and may give a rude impression when used with superiors or people of higher status.
Omiyage wo katte kita node yokattara douzo.
(I bought a souvenir for you, here you are.)
4. On ni kimasu
“On ni kimasu (恩に着ます)” is one of the thank-you phrases that indicates that you are grateful to receive a favor from the other person. It is often used in business between close colleagues and friends, and has the nuance of “thank you for your help. For example, you can use this phrase when you are unable to finish your work and a colleague sees this and offers a helping hand.
Saitou-san ga kono shorui wo innsatsu shite kureta okage de kaigi ga umaku ittayo. On ni kiruyo.
(Thanks to you for printing this document, the meeting went well. I owe you.)
Tasuke ni narete yokatta desu.
(I’m glad I could be of help.)
5. Arigatai desu
One of the more casual honorific phrases, “Arigatai desu (ありがたいです) ” is often used among close friends. The word “arigatai” includes the meaning “to be thankful for someone’s favor, which is rare,” and has the nuance of “your help is really helpful”. In business situations, it is considered to be a phrase to avoid as much as possible, especially with superiors and business partners.
Kyouiku senmonka no anata kara jyogen wo itadakeru toha totemo arigatai desu. Zehi kikasete kudasai.
(I would be very grateful for advice from you as an education expert. I would love to talk to you about it.)
Ieie, sukoshi demo anata no tasuke ni naretara ureshii desu.
(No worries, I am happy to help you in any way I can.)
6. Tasukari masu
When you ask someone for a favor or something and they accept your request, the phrase “Tasukari masu (助かります)” is often used to express gratitude. It is often used among friends and colleagues. Avoid using this phrase with superiors or business partners, as it may be taken as a way of saying, “Please do it so that I don’t have to bear much of the burden”.
Sumimasen, chairo no kawa no saifu wo otoshite shimatta no desu ga, koko ni todoite imasenka?
(Excuse me, I dropped my brown leather wallet, but has it arrived here?)
Dewa, isoide todoite iruka oshirabe itashi masu ne.
(Well, then let me quickly check if it has arrived.)
Arigatou gozaimasu. Tasukari masu.
(Thank you very much. That’s helpful.)
7. Katajike nai
“Katajike nai (かたじけない)” is not a phrase frequently used in Japanese conversation, but in historical dramas that broadcast on television, samurai and warriors often say the line “Katajike nai” when they are expressing gratitude. The word is said to have already existed in the Heian period and originally meant “I am awed”. It can be said to superiors or business partners as a way of humbling oneself and expressing gratitude for the other person’s favor. On the other hand, it is not often used between friends or close colleagues, as it sounds too formal.
Yokattara kōhī to okashi wa ikaga desu ka?
(Would you like to have coffee and sweets?)
Oo, katajike nai.
(Oh, thank you very much.)
“Sumimasen” is a phrase you can use when you want to apologize for a mistake you made or to thank someone for their kindness. However, it does not have the same nuance as “gomennasai (I’m sorry)” or “arigatou (thank you)”. When someone does something for you, “sumimasen” is used to express gratitude and a light apology for putting a burden on the other person.
Imakara konbini ni ikukedo, anata no katte kite hoshii mono aru? Tsuide ni katte okuyo.
(I’m going to the convenience store now, but is there anything you want me to buy for you? I’ll buy it while I’m out.)
Aa, sumimasen! Jyaa banira aisu wo onegaishimasu
(Oh, thank you! Then I’ll have vanilla ice cream, please.)
9. Kansha moushiage masu
“Kansha moushiage masu” is a phrase that can be used to express gratitude in formal situations such as business. It is often used to give a polite impression to superiors or business partners. Adding “kokoroyori (心より, sincerely)” to the beginning of the sentence makes the entire sentence sound more polite.
A (Conference moderator) : この度はお忙しい中こちらの会議に御参加頂きまして、心より感謝申し上げます。 本日の議題は・・・
Konotabi wa oisogasgii naka kochira no kaigi ni gosanka itadakimashite, kokoroyori kansha moushiage masu. Honjitsu no gidai wa…
(I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to attend this meeting.
Today’s agenda is….)
10. Gokurousama desu
“Gokurou-sama” is a phrase to express gratitude for something the other person has done for you, even if it is at the expense of you. For example, this phrase can be used to thank the delivery person who brought your package to your door. You can also use this phrase in business situations, but there is a rule that you should not say it to someone above you because it makes you sound arrogant.
Otodoke mono desu. Kochira ni sain wo onegai shimasu.
(Here is delivery for you. Please sign here.)
Dewa kochira ni sain shimasu ne. Itsumo haitatsu gokurousama desu.
(Then I’ll sign here. Thank you always for your delivery service.)
In this article, we have introduced various Japanese phrases for expressing gratitude. Of course, there are many other ways to say thank you in Japanese. If you are interested, pick up a Japanese language study textbook! Learning various ways to say thank you in Japanese will definitely be very useful in daily life as well as in business situations. It is very useful to be able to use the above phrases, but if you are in doubt, simply use “Arigatou gozaimasu”. That is a very easy-to-use phrase of thanks that can be used in any situation and with any person of any status. No one will look at you in a bad way when they hear you say thank you. Learn a variety of thank you phrases and express your gratitude to others in plenty of ways.
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