Saying "thank you" is fundamental when learning Japanese. Many learners may already know "arigatou" or "arigatou gozaimasu" but there are some other ways to say "thank you."
We will share seven basic ways to say thank you, including "arigatou," as well as explanations about when to use them. It'll be easy to understand even for non-Japanese leaners!
You will be able to say a "thank you" that is suitable for every situation and for every person.
Seven phrases to say "thank you" in Japanese
Arigatou gozaimasu / Thank you
The most common way to say thank you in Japanese is arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます).
Actually, you will never have to worry about saying thank you in Japan if you know this word.
Arigatou gozaimasu is used in various situations, like when you're traveling, in business, and your ordinary life.
When you are really thankful for something, you can say hontouni arigatougozaimau (本当にありがとうございます).
"Arigatou gozaimasu" is for people who are not in a close relationship and/or for elders and superiors, so we will introduce a casual way to say thank you to your friends or family.
Arigatou / Thanks
You say arigatou (ありがとう) when you want to say thank you to your friends and family.
Young people say Arigato (ありがと) as a shortened word of arigatou. You see it on social media or LINE in text.
You should not say arigatou for elders and superiors because it will sound rude.
The origin of arigatou
Arigatou is divided into two parts, one is ari (あり) and another is (gatai) がたい.
Ari means you have something and gatai means difficult. So it literally means "it is difficult to get something you have now." It expresses something you got is precious to you.
The form of arigatai (ありがたい) was changed to arigatou (ありがとう) to say thanks to people.
Sumimasen / Sorry
Sumimasen (すみません) means sorry, but can be used as thank you in some contexts.
Some people might be surprised that Japanese people say "sorry" instead of "thank you" a lot.
This is a Japanese cultural custom. Japanese people feel sorry to make you do something for them.
Saying "sumimasen" is a Japanese way to say thank you and is useful in many situations. For example, you can use this when someone gives you their seat on a train or helps you do something.
When you want to say sorry to your friend, you say "gomen" as casual way to say sumimasen.
Doumo arigatougozaimasu / Thank you so much
When you want to say ”thank you so much,” you say "doumo arigatougozaimasu (どうもありがとうございます)."
Doumo (どうも) is a word that means "somehow" or "quite." It expresses vagueness of the degree of something.
So when you pair it with "arigatou gozaimasu," it literally means "Thank you so much" (I can't express how much I want to thank you).
You can shorten it and just say doumo (どうも).
As well, it is used not only when you say "thank you," but also as a greeting. You can say "doumo" when you want to say hello.
Sankyu / Thank you
Just saying "Thank you" in Japanese pronunciation is totally fine. When you say "Thank you" in Japanese-English, you need to change the sound of "th" to "s" and say "sankyu" (サンキュー).
You might feel a little weird saying this, but there is no sound that expresses "th" in Japanese. So, it is better to say sankyu for Japanese ears!
サンキュー can be used in casual situations, not in formal situations. You should only say this to your friends or family.
On ni kimasu / I appreciate it
When you want to say "I appreciate it," you say "On ni kimasu (恩に着ます)."
You can use this phrase when someone treats you to a meal.
If you say it to your friends, you say "On ni kiruyo."
Kansha shiteimasu / I'm thankful
When you want to say "I'm so thankful," you can say "kansha shiteimasu (感謝しています)." This phrase is not used in ordinary life, but rather is a really polite way to say thank you.
This is good to write in a thank you letter.
If you are super thankful to someone, you can say "totemo kansha shiteimasu (とても感謝しています)."
Thank you (Formal) - ありがとうございます
Thank you (Casual) - ありがとう
Thank you so much - 本当にありがとうございます
Sorry (Formal)- すみません
Sorry (Casual)- ごめん
Thank you - サンキュー
Thank you so much - どうもありがとうございます
I appreciate it - 恩に着ます
I'm thankful - 感謝しています
We shared about 7 phrases to say thank you in Japanese. These phrases will definitely help you show your thanks to Japanese people.
It is totally fine to say only arigatou. But, if you want to learn how to say what your thanks is for, check out the post of how to say thank you for ... in Japanese!