How do you say ‘Thank You’ in Japanese? — Meaning of ‘Arigatouありがとう’ and Pronunciation

You may have heard of this phrase, “ありがとうArigatou” which means “Thank you”. It is one of the most important phrases.

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How do you say “Thank you!”

How do you say ‘Thank You’ in Japanese?

Japanese people use this phrase very often, though they have other expressions to thank people. It is not difficult to remember this phrase. I just want to add some more useful tips related to this.

Thank you!

How do you say “Thank you!” in a polite way

“ありがとうArigatou” means “Thank you”. It is the phrase when you want to tell someone your gratitude.

It’s commonly used in every day conversations. “Arigatoo” is informal while “Arigatoo gozaimasu” is the polite form.

Arigatou gozaimasu

“ございます gozaimasu” is a polite style. It will be useful on other occasions.

If you want to thank someone who you don’t know very well, it is better to say “ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu” rather than just “ありがとう Arigatou”.

On the other hand, if you say “Thank you” to your close friends, “ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu” sounds too polite, so you can simply say “ありがとう Arigatou”.

How do you say “Thank you for (something)”?

We have lots of situations when we want to thank people and you may want to say specifically for what you feel thankful.

In English, you put the object which you thank for after ‘Thank you’, but in Japanese, we put the object before ‘ありがとう Arigatou’. For example,

Me-e-ru, arigatou.
Thank you for your e-mail.

‘メール Me-e-ru’ means ‘an e-mail’ or ‘e-mails’.

It includes a long vowel ‘e’. Please remember that a Japanese vowel ‘e’ is pronounced like ‘e’ in ‘dead’ or ‘head’.

In ‘me-e-ru’, there are two ‘e’ in a low, which turn into a long vowel ‘ee’. In other Japanese textbooks, it may be written ‘mēru’ as its pronunciation.

When you get on the aeroplane with a Japanese airline company you may hear:

Go-toujou, arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you for boarding.

If you are in a public place in Japan you may often hear:

Go-kyouryoku, arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you for your cooperation.

If someone invites you to dinner at their home or in a restaurant after you enjoy the meal, you can say:

Dina-a, arigatou (gozaimasu).
Thank you for the dinner.

Please remember, it’s always “a noun + ありがとう Arigatou”. A noun goes first, ‘Arigatou’ comes later.

How do you say “Thank you so much”.

Sometimes, just saying “Thank you” is not enough. When you want to tell someone your great thanks, you can say;

Doumo, arigatou (goziamasu).
Thank you so much!

In this case, an object which you are thanking for is put before this phrase as well.

Purezento, doumo arigatou (gozaimasu)
Thank you so much for the gift.

Should your thanks be past tense?

When you are leaving shops, restaurants or any other places, you may hear this phrase below as often as “ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu”.

Arigatou gozaimashita.
Thank you. (past tense)

When you go to the shops, restaurants and hotels in Japan, you often hear “Arigatoo gozaimasu” or “Arigatoo gozaimashita” which is the past tense.

Grammatically, it is said that “ありがとうございました Arigatou gozaimashita” is past tense. People in the shops say this phrase, meaning “Thank you for having visited us”.

However, there is a little debate amongst native Japanese speakers that your feeling of thankfulness should not be expressed in the past tense.

“ありがとうございました Arigatou gozaimashita” is certainly suitable for a specific situation, but it may be better for beginners of the Japanese language not to say “ありがとうございました Arigatou gozaimashita” in any case in order to avoid misunderstanding.

“Sumimasen” can be “Thank you”

Some Japanese people use the phrase “すみませんSumimasen” instead of “Arigatoo”, which originally means “sorry” or “excuse me”.

I think it’s because people feel sorry that they have bothered you or they have made you care about them. That may be why Japanese people sound apologetic to you.

How do we respond to “Aritgatou” in Japanese?

If someone says “Arigatoo” to you, you might want to say “you are welcome”.

In Japanese, “you are welcome” is “Dooitashimasgite”, but it is not a response which people always give.

When you are leaving the shops, restaurants or hotels, you will hear “Arigatoo gozaimasu” or “Arigatoo gozaimashita”. You can say “Arigatoo” back to them to thank them for their service.

When patients leave their doctors or pharmacists, they say “Arigatoo gozaimashita” and the doctors, nurses or pharmacists will say “Odaijini” which means “take care yourself”.

Some people gently say “Iie” as a response to “Arigatoo (gozaimasu), which literally means “no”, meaning “no problem” in this case.