When someone says "thanks" to you, you say “you’re welcome” or “no problem” in English.
When you want to say “You’re welcome,” in Japanese, you say “どういたしまして (douitashimashite).”
This is a basic word to reply to a thank you, but you rarely hear this word in a real conversation. Contrary to popular belief, Japanese people don’t say douitashimashite very often.
So, is it not good to say どういたしまして (douitashimashite) when you reply to a thank you?
The answer is “yes, it's fine." But there is a rule of using どういたしまして(douitashimasite).
We will share about the natural way to say どういたしまして (douitashimashite) and some other phrases that mean "you’re welcome" in Japanese.
どういたしまして / You’re welcome
どういたしまして (douitashimashite) means “you’re welcome” in Japanese. Japanese learners probably learn this word after learning "thank you" in Japanese.
As described in the beginning of this article, you don’t hear this word so much in a real conversation. There are some reasons for this.
One is どういたしまして is used for people who are on an equal footing with you, or your subordinates. It’s also used for kids. Young people can’t say どういたしまして to elders or superiors because it sounds rude. The second is that どういたしまして sounds too polite when you say it to your friends or family.
Casual phrases to reply to thank you
It is totally fine to say どういたしまして (douitashimashite) as a reply in Japanese, but we’ll share some other phrases that you can say as “you’re welcome” when it's difficult to figure out if どういたしまして is correct for the situation and person.
○うん / Yes
This is the same as English, you can say just うん(yes) or はーい(yeah) as a response. Those are the most common words used in a close relationship and casual situation.
○ううん、気にしないで / No worries
○うん、大丈夫 / It’s alright
If you want to make someone not feel bad, (for example, if you go out of your way to help them) you can say 気にしないで (no worries) or 大丈夫 (It’s alright).
○いえいえ / No problem
いえいえ (ieie/No problem) is a useful phrase that you can use both in casual and formal relationships. Although you can say it to your friends, it may sound a little formal and polite for your friend.
○こちらこそありがとう / Same here
Sometimes you feel thankful for your friend at the same time as they are thankful for you.
For example, you take your friend to Disneyland and they have a good time. But you are also thankful that they came with you.
You can say こちらこそありがとう (kochirakoso arigatou/same here) after they say thank you. It is okay to shorten the word and say こちらこそ (kochirakoso).
Formal phrases to reply to thank you
It may be a little more difficult to say "You’re welcome" phrases in a formal situation than in a casual situation because you have to use some honorific words for formal phrases. Let’s focus on your feelings and learn some honorific phrases when you say “you’re welcome” to someone in a formal relationship.
○いえいえ (No problem)
いえいえ is a useful phrase to reply to thank you. When you feel like helping the person was not a problem, you can say いえいえ (ieie).
○とんでもないです (Don’t mention it)
Similarly, if you feel that your help was not a big deal and it is too much for them to thank you, you can say とんでもないです (tondemo naidesu). This phrase expresses your humility and sounds polite.
If you want to say とんでもないです in a business email, you can write とんでもございません (tondemo gozaimasen). とんでもございません is a honorific form of とんでもないです (tondemonaidesu).
○お気になさらないで下さい (Please don’t worry about it)
If you feel like “It’s alright, don’t worry about it!” you can say お気になさらないで下さい(okini nasaranaidekudasai). You can use this in situations where you help someone a lot and they feel bad for bothering you.
○お役に立てて光栄です (It’s an honor for me to be your help)
When you help someone who is a much higher status than you and is someone you respect, you can express that you are glad to be his or her help with the phrase お役に立てて光栄です(oyakunitatete koueidesu).
役に立つ (yakuni tatsu) means to be helpful or useful and 光栄です (koueidesu) means it’s an honor for me. お役に立てて… (“o”yakunitatete) is an honorific form of this phrase.
○こちらこそありがとうございます (Thank you, too)
こちらこそありがとうございます (kochirakoso arigatougozaimasu) is an honorific expression of こちらこそありがとう(kochirakoso arigatou). If you feel thankful for someone who is thankful to you, you can use this phrase to reply.
ううん、気(き)にしないで No worries
うん、大丈夫(だいじょうぶ) It’s alright
いえいえ No problem
こちらこそありがとう Same here
いえいえ No problem
とんでもないです Don’t mention it
お気(き)になさらないで下(くだ)さい Please don’t worry about it
お役(やく)に立(た)てて光栄(こうえい)です It’s an honor for me to be your help
こちらこそありがとうございます Same here
We shared about how to say you're welcome in this article. If you also want to learn some phrases to say Thank you in Japanese, please check Seven phrases to say thank you in Japanese😊