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How to Say Thank You in Japanese

Four Methods:Casual ThanksFormal ThanksCircumstance-Specific ThanksResponding to Thanks

In order to figure out how to say “thank you” in Japanese, you need to first determine how polite your expression of gratitude needs to be. Some phrases are more casual, while others are more formal. There are also a few phrases that express gratitude only when used in certain situations. Here's a brief explanation of what you need to know about expressions of gratitude in Japanese.

Method 1
Casual Thanks

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    Say "domo arigatou."This is a fairly standard yet casual way to say "thank you."
    • Use this expression with friends and co-workers, but avoid using it with someone who is in a position of authority over you. Also avoid using it in formal situations.
    • Pronounce domo arigatou as doh-moh ah-ree-gah-toh.
    • In its non-romanized form, write どうも有難う.[1]
  2. Image titled Say Thank You in Japanese Step 2
    Shorten it to "arigatou." arigatou is an even more informal way of saying "thank you."
    • You can use this phrase with friends and family members. It is appropriate with people who share your status, but someone with a higher status, like a supervisor or teacher, should be treated with more respect.
    • Pronounce arigatou as ah-ree-gah-toh.
    • In its non-romanized form, write arigatou as 有難う or ありがとう.[2]
  3. Image titled Say Thank You in Japanese Step 3
    Shorten it to "domo." Domo is more polite than arigatou, but it falls somewhere in between casual and formal speech.[3]
    • On its own, domo means "very much," but it is understood to mean "thank you" depending on the context of the conversation.
    • You can use this in most polite contexts, but if you need to be extremely polite to someone, you should opt for a more formal phrase.
    • Pronounce domo as doh-moh.
    • In its non-romanized form, write どうも.

Method 2
Formal Thanks

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    State "arigatou gozaimasu."[4] This phrase essentially means "thank you very much."
    • You can use arigatou gozaimasu with people who have a higher status than you, including supervisors, family elders, teachers, and strangers or acquaintances who appear older than you.
    • You can also use this phrase to express formal or heartfelt gratitude to someone close to you.
    • Pronounce arigatou gozaimasu as ah-ree-gah-toh goh-zah-ee-mas.
    • In its non-romanized form, write 有難う 御座います.
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    Switch to "domo arigatou gozaimasu." This is even more polite way of saying "thank you very much."
    • Use this phrase with those who have a higher status or in formal circumstances. You can also use the phrase to express sincerity with someone familiar.
    • Pronounce the phrase as doh-moh ah-ree-gah-toh goh-sah-ee-mas.'
    • In its non-romanized form, write domo arigatou gozaimasu as どうも 有難う 御座います.
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    Express thanks in the past tense as "arigatou gozaimashita."[5] If someone has done something for you in the recent past, make the phrase past tense by changing the -u ending of gozaimasu to -ita.
    • Pronounce the phrase as ah-ree-gah-toh go-za-ee-ma-shi-tah.

Method 3
Circumstance-Specific Thanks

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    Use "gochisou sama deshita" after a meal. If a host serves you dinner or if someone treats you to meal, you should use this phrase at the end of the meal to express gratitude.[6]
    • Note that at the beginning of a meal, you would say "itadakimasu" instead.
    • Pronounce this phrase as goh-chee-soh sah-mah deh-shee-tah.
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    At the end of a work day, say "o-tsukaresama desu." It essentially means something along the lines of "thank you for your hard work," but a stricter interpretation would be "you are a tired person."
    • The implication is that the listener has worked hard and deserves to rest. The phrase is polite and shows gratitude for that person's hard work.
    • Pronounce this saying as oh-tsoo-kah-reh-sah-mah des.
  3. Image titled Say Thank You in Japanese Step 9
    In Osaka, say "ookini."[7] This is not standard Japanese. Instead, this form of saying "thank you" is only found in Osakan dialect.
    • Ookini can mean "thank you" or "please." It can be used at the end of a sentence to smooth relations, or it can be used on its own to show appreciation to someone close.
    • The term was originally a way of indicating quantity and was used with arigatou as ookini arigatou. Over time, however, the phrase was shortened to ookini.
    • Pronounce ookini as oh-kee-nee.
    • In non-romanized format, write it out as おおきに.

Method 4
Responding to Thanks

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    Reply with "dou itashi mashite."[8] In both casual and polite contexts, this phrase is used in response to thanks. It essentially has the same meaning as "you're welcome."
    • Pronounce the saying as doh ee-tah-shee mah-she-teh.
    • In non-romanized form, write the phrase out as どういたしまして。
    • Informally, instead of "dou itashimashite", you can say "iie", pronounced "e-yay" written いいえ, which literally just means "no." By doing so, you are just telling the person who helped you "it was nothing."
    • You may find Japanese people making a gesture of waving their hand across their face. This also just means "its nothing."


  • Say hai domo (hi doh moh) when receiving something. It translates roughly to "thank you" in response to being handed something. It can also just mean thank you.

Article Info

Categories: Japanese