The most common and natural way to say “thank you” in Japanese is the casual ありがとう (arigatou) or the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).
You can use ありがとう (arigatou) or ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) as a means to express thanks for a gift, a compliment, a service or even to accept or refuse an offer in Japanese.
ありがとう (arigatou) is the most common casual way to say “thank you” in Japanese. You should refrain from using ありがとう (arigatou) when expressing thanks to anyone who is not your friend or family. This is because ありがとう (arigatou) is strictly a casual expression.
It would be considered rude If you were to use ありがとう (arigatou) with those who are of a higher social status than yourself, such as a teacher, manager, or even a shop assistant.
Therefore in scenarios where a display of politeness is necessary such as those listed above, it’s natural to use ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).
With that said, there are plenty of other ways to express thanks in Japanese outside of using ありがとう (arigatou).
There may be situations where you wish to express more than just “thanks” to someone. One example could be to attach 本当に (hontou ni) before ありがとう (arigatou) to make 本当にありがとう (hontou ni arigatou). This expression means “thank you very much” in Japanese.
The Japanese language is full of expressions that have unique implications and meanings that are absent in English. For instance, the term いただきます (itadakimasu) is an expression that’s commonly used to express thanks before eating a meal.
This ultimate guide is tailored towards beginners and intermediate learners alike. All entries are accompanied with audio, examples and explanations for your reference!
Table of Contents
Thank You in Japanese
- Thank you.
The most common causal way to express your thanks to someone in Japanese is ありがとう (arigatou). It’s a non-complex word and there are minimal nuances.
However, it should be noted that you should not use it to thank a stranger, manager, or anyone of a higher social status than yourself. This is because the Japanese language has an extensive array of honorifics.
Despite your good intentions, it would be considered rude to say ありがとう (arigatou) to a cashier after they’ve served you, for instance.
Therefore, the best time to use ありがとう (arigatou) is when you want to express thanks to someone you have an intimate relationship with. This could be a friend, classmate, or even a co-worker, depending on the context.
ありがとう (arigatou) Examples
You can use ありがとう (arigatou) by itself, however, sometimes you may wish to be a little more specific about what you’re expressing your gratitude for.
Thank you for the present!
You’ll find that short sentences in Japanese can be enough to express what you want to say. Often, you won’t need to add extra fluff to the sentence like “for” and “the” in English.
Instead, simply stating the item, followed by ありがとう (arigatou) translates to “thank you for X”. This formula cannot be applied to verbs.
If someone has been particularly helpful with a lot of things, you may wish to thank them with:
- いろいろ ありがとう。
Thank you for everything.
The word いろいろ (iroiro) in the above expression refers to “various” or literally to “a variety of things”. You can use it to form sentences such as
iroiro na hon ga suki.
I like various books.
Related: How to say I Like You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].
In the case of the first example “thank you for everything”, the いろいろ (iroiro) functions similarly to the second example. This means that a more literal translation of the first example would be “thank you for a variety of things”.
With that said, いろいろありがとう (iroiro arigatou) is used to express your gratitude to someone for all the things (no matter how big or small) that they’ve done.
This is a generic way of expressing your gratitude for “everything” someone has done. There are more intimate ways to say this, see the entry #Thank You For Everything in Japanese, below.
You can also make the expression more personal by saying the name of the person whom you’re thanking, followed by ありがとう (arigatou).
[name], thank you.
Thank You for Everything in Japanese
Although you can express “thank you for everything” in Japanese with いろいろありがとう (iroiro arigatou), explained above, sometimes you may want to add more emotion to your words.
- Thank you for everything.
When you use いつもありがとう (itsumo arigatou) you’re expressing your gratitude for quite literally everything the person has done for you.
This is because いつも (itsumo), the first part of the expressions, translates as “always” or “all the time”.
We know that ありがとう (arigatou) is a casual way of expressing general thanks in Japanese. Therefore when you tell someone いつもありがとう (itsumo arigatou) you communicate that you appreciate the things that they’re always doing for you.
You can pair the expression with other phrases to better communicate what you’re grateful for or/and how it’s made you feel. For instance,
hontouni ureshii! itsumo arigatou.
I’m so happy! Thank you for everything.
Related: How to say Happy in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].
Thank You For Today in Japanese
- Thank you for today.
kyou ha arigatou.
If you’ve had a particularly enjoyable day with someone, you may wish to thank them for the experience. You can do this with 今日はありがとう (kyou ha arigatou), which also makes an excellent parting phrase.
The first part of the expression, 今日 (kyou) is made up of two kanji. 今 which means “now” and 日 which means “day”. Combine them and you get 今日 (kyou), the word for “today” in Japanese.
Following 今日 (kyou) is は (ha), a Japanese grammar particle that marks the preceding noun as the subject of the sentence. Grammatically speaking, the は (ha) emphasises the 今日 (kyou) as the subject.
Finally, by attaching ありがとう (arigatou), you complete the informal expression, 今日はありがとう (kyou ha arigatou).
You can pair the expression with remarks on why you’re grateful. You could do this by expressing how you feel. For example,
tanoshikatta! kyou ha arigatou.
That was fun! Thank you for today.
If you especially enjoyed the day, you could communicate how you’d like to hang out again.
kyou ha arigatou! mata asobou!
Thank you for today! Let’s hang out again!
You may even wish to ask someone directly how their day has been and if they’ve enjoyed it or not. To learn how to do so, visit the below recommended ultimate guide.
Recommended: How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].
Thank You For Today (Formal)
There may also be occasions where you wish to use this phrase in more formal scenarios. Perhaps you’ve just finished a training session with a manager at a job and you wish to express your thanks, for instance.
To do this, you will need to use honorific speech. This involves changing the expression to:
kyou ha arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you for today. (formal).
More information on expressing gratitude politely in Japanese is explained in the appropriately titled entry below!
Thank You For That (Informal) in Japanese
When you want to thank someone for something that happened a few moments ago, there are two expressions you can use.
Thank You For That #1
The first is:
- Thanks for that.
This expression incorporates ありがとう (arigatou), which we’ve established is the standard translation for “thank you”.
The preceding word is さっき (sakki). This word is both a noun and adverb that conveys the meaning “a moment ago” or “just now”. You use it when referring to an event that has recently happened. How recently, exactly, depends on the context.
If someone did you a favour for you, but you didn’t get a chance to properly thank them at the time, you can use this expression.
Thank You For That #2
The second is:
- You helped me/”I’m saved”.
This expression is an indirect way to show your appreciation. You use it when you feel a sense of relief, or if someone “saved” you from a certain fate.
By using 助かった (tasukatta), you express that you feel thankful for having been removed or saved from a situation or circumstance.
For instance, your computer could have just broken down, and in that heart-breaking moment, you realise that all of your personal data may be lost. Luckily you have a friend who knows just how to solve the problem – and they do just that!
You could say:
- [name] のおかげで助かった。
[name] no okagede tasukatta.
I’m saved thanks to [name].
Note that in the above example, you should always refer to the person’s actual name when you want to address them as “you” in Japanese. Although there are ways to say “you”, the most natural way is to call them by their name, even if you’re speaking to them directly.
It may be even more appropriate to combine the two expressions.
- さっきありがとう！ 助かったよ！
sakki arigatou! tasukatta yo!
Thanks for that! You helped/saved me!
The magic of Japanese is that even if you don’t know the person’s name, or if you don’t feel like using it, you can drop the pronouns altogether and the sentence will remain natural.
Thank You For This in Japanese
- Thank you for this.
[te-form verb] kurete arigatou.
To express gratitude specifically for something that someone did for you, you’ll need to use the above formation.
You need to use this formation when working with verbs. For instance, perhaps you’d like to thank someone for inviting you to an event or party.
First, you’ll need the verb for “invite” in Japanese, which is 誘う (sasou). Secondly, you’ll need to transform it into the te-form, which makes it 誘って (sasotte). Then you can insert it into the formation listed above. This would make:
sasotte kurete arigatou.
Thank you for inviting me.
I appreciate that may have been a lot of information to take in. Here’s how it works.
Firstly, you can make sentences with this formation using any verb. Secondly, that verb must always be conjugated into the te-form.
The te-form is perhaps one of the first challenging “forms” you’ll encounter when learning Japanese. It is a grammatical conjugation pattern that has many uses. In this case, it lets us connect sequential actions together, something you can’t do with verbs in Japanese unless you conjugate them!
I recommend this page for more information on how to conjugate the te-form, should you be interested.
Once the verb has been conjugated into the te-form, you can then attach くれてありがとう (kuretearigatou) which will allow you to thank someone specifically for what they’ve done.
くれて (kurete) Explanation
The magic in this expression happens with くれて (kurete), which is the te-form of くれる (kureru), a verb that doesn’t quite have a literal English translation. The best way to understand くれて (kurete) would be to interpret it as a word that adds a subtle notion of “especially” to the English expression “for me”.
Although the nuance is different to the full impact of saying “especially for me” in English, similarities are present in the overall feeling of the meaning.
Therefore, when you use くれて (kurete), you’re expressing that extra little sense of gratitude.
For example, you could thank someone for accompanying you to a location.
isshouni itte kurete arigatou.
Thank you for going together with me.
Although the addition of 一緒に (isshouni) is also optional, it adds even more weight to the already unique expressiveness of くれて (kurete).
Thank You Too in Japanese
There are two ways to express “thank you” back to someone who has just said it to you. The first way is to use the following sentence structure:
[name] mo arigatou.
Thank you too.
As previously highlighted, when you want to refer to someone as “you” in Japanese, it’s always best to use their actual name. Therefore, you begin this phrase by stating their name.
The last part of the phrase is ありがとう (arigatou), the standard way to communicate thanks in Japanese. The key difference with here though, is the inclusion of も (mo) between the person’s name, and the word ありがとう (arigatou).
This も (mo) is a Japanese grammar particle that means “also”.
Combining all three elements makes the complete phrase. To formalise it, extend ありがとう (arigatou) to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).
Thank You To You Too in Japanese
The second way to thank the thanker back is to use the following phrase:
- Thank you to you too.
When you say the above phrase as a response to someone who has just thanked you, you’re emphasising that you’re the one who should be thanking them.
Essentially you’re saying “no, thank you!“, or “I’m the one who should be thanking you” in Japanese.
This phrase can also be formalised by changing the ありがとう (arigatou), to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu).
Thanks in Japanese
Although they are both a statement of gratitude, generally, “thank you” is considered to be slightly more formal than “thanks”.
The same applies to Japanese with ありがとう (arigatou) meaning “thank you”, and どうも (doumo), meaning “thanks”.
どうも (doumo) is marginally informal compared to ありがとう (arigatou). Therefore どうも (doumo) is the best way to express “thanks” in Japanese.
Another difference between the two is that ありがとう (arigatou) carries slightly more “emotional impact” or earnestness compared to どうも (doumo). For this reason, it’s better to use ありがとう (arigatou) when saying “thanks” to your friends. Using どうも (doumo) in these situations could be considered a little rude, depending on the person.
On the other hand, it’s natural to use どうも (doumo) as a casual response to a cashier at a convenience store who has just thanked you with the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).
doumo arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you so much. (formal).
You can, however, combine どうも (doumo) and ありがとう (arigatou) together to make the phrase どうもありがとう (doumo arigatou), which would mean “thank you so much” in Japanese.
The addition of ございます (gozaimasu) in the example sentence above, makes the expression formal. This is further explained in the entry below!
Thank You in Formal Japanese
- Thank you (formal).
As mentioned, the Japanese language has many honorifics that require you to speak with different levels of politeness, depending on who you’re speaking to.
The way you do this with “thank you” in Japanese is to take the standard way to express gratitude, ありがとう (arigatou) and extend it to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).
You will be expected to use the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) to communicate your thanks to strangers, teachers and managers. For instance, when saying thank you to shop staff, you’ll want to use ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu), rather than ありがとう (arigatou), which would be considered rude.
Saying ございます (gozaimasu) is also necessary when saying “good morning” to someone formally in Japanese, which is おはようございます (ohayou gozimasu).
I recommend this video that explains the nuances of ございます (gozaimasu) in other words.
Thank You Very Much in Formal Japanese
- Thank you very much (very formal).
makotoni arigatou gozaimasu.
Perhaps the most polite way to express gratitude in Japanese is with the above phrase. It is an exceptionally sincere way of saying thank you, and you’ll most likely hear this from retail workers when speaking with customers, or from a company to their clients/viewers or customers.
As this is an expression that’s reserved for occasions when a high level of politeness is required, the words that you would typically find paired with it are also that of Keigo (honorific speech).
For instance, the word for “today” in Japanese is 今日 (kyou). Therefore the casual way of saying “thank you for today” in Japanese is:
kyou ha arigatou.
Thank you for today.
It’s most natural to use the above expression with friends and family.
To increase the politeness, you can use:
kyou ha arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you for today.
This addition of ございます (gozaimasu) adds a considerable amount of formality. You can use this with managers, teachers or strangers.
The final, and most polite version would be:
honjitsu ha makotoni arigatou gozaimasu.
Thank you for today.
Firstly, not only does the addition of 誠に (makoto ni) add more overall weight to the expression, but 今日 (kyou) changes to 本日 (honjitsu).
The reason for this change is that essentially, 本日 (honjitsu) is a much more formalised version of 今日 (kyou). You’d typically hear this phrase being used by a business to thank their clients or customers, whom they wish to treat with the utmost respect.
Hence, you’ll most likely hear 誠にありがとうございます (makoto ni arigatou gozaimasu) paired with unfamiliar words that are infrequently used outside daily conversation.
Thank You Very Much in Japanese
- Thank you very much.
The expression 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) has different nuances compared to other ways to communicate a deep thanks. The reason being is that the first part of the expression, 本当に (hontouni) is a word that means “really” or “truly”.
Therefore when you say 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) to someone, you communicate an exemplified genuine expression of gratitude.
In other words, during situations where you feel you are truly grateful for something you can express this with 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou).
itsumo soba no itekureru ne. hontouni ni arigatou.
You’re always there for me. Thank you so much.
This expression is also a fantastic one to use when receiving a heartwarming gift from someone. For instance:
kekkyoku katte kuretanda. hontouni arigatou!
You (kindly) bought it for me after all. Thank you so much.
To sum up, you can use 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) to express a heartfelt thanks in Japanese.
Responding to Thank You in Japanese
One of the best ways to respond to someone when they say “thank you” in Japanese is to say “no problem”.
I’ve composed an ultimate guide that details all the possible ways you can express this, here’s the link!
How to say No Problem in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].
You’re Welcome in Japanese
Perhaps the safest and standard way to respond to someone else’s expression of thanks is to say “you’re welcome”.
- You’re welcome.
You can respond to ありがとう (arigatou) with どういたしまして (douitashimashite), which is the same as replying with “you’re welcome” to “thank you”.
Although this expression is generally formal, you can use it in casual situations to communicate a sincere “you’re welcome” to friends and family.
A typical conversation may flow like this:
pasokon no koto wo tetsudatte kurete arigatou.
Thank you for helping me with my computer.
douitashimashite. itsudemo ii yo.
You’re welcome. Anytime.
I Appreciate It in Japanese
- I appreciate it.
To express feelings of gratitude outside of the bounds of ありがとう (arigatou), you can use the formal 感謝します (kansha shimasu) or the casual 感謝する (kansha suru).
The word 感謝 (kansha) means “gratitude” or appreciation in Japanese. There are two kanji that make up this expression. Firstly, 感, which means “feeling” or emotion”. This kanji is then followed by 謝 which means “thanks” or “apologise”.
Quite literally, the meaning of 感謝 (kansha) can be understood as “a feeling to apologise”. This is because Japan and Japanese are both polite culturally and linguistically. Therefore, when you thank someone with 感謝 (kansha), you’re expressing an apology for the inconvenience that you may have caused them.
However, you can use 感謝します (kansha shimasu) in a wide array of situations; at a time when you wish to communicate that you appreciate something that someone has done for you.
For instance, you could attach more emotion to the expression and make it into the phrase:
kokoro no soko kara kansha shimasu.
I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.
Remember that you’re absolutely fine to omit pronouns in colloquial Japanese you’ll sound more natural if you do! For that reason, although the above phrase lacks any pronouns, when it is directed from one to another, context is clear enough to allow the omission.
Using すみません (sumimasen) to Express Thanks
- I’m sorry (thanks).
すみません (sumimasen) is a formal word that means “excuse me” in Japanese. Typically, you would use it when trying to grab someone’s attention. This could be when you want to ask a shop assistant for some assistance, or when you’d like to initiate a conversation with a stranger, for instance.
However, you can also use すみません (sumimasen) to express a form of gratitude in Japanese. A great example of this is when you find yourself on a crowded train and are trying to make your way to the exit as you have reached your stop. The sheer number of people is making this difficult to do so. So, as you’re hastily making your (non-forceful) way through, it would be polite to say すみません (sumimasen) a few times.
Let’s look at another example! You find yourself busy at work. However, lucky for you, your kind co-worker has offered to complete some of the work on your behalf. In this situation, you would be better off using すみません (sumimasen), rather than simply ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu). The reason for this is that すみません (sumimasen) is considerably more humbling.
sumimasen. onegai shimasu.
Thank you. Yes, please.
By using すみません (sumimasen) to express your thanks, it’s as if you’re saying “I’m sorry for this, but thank you” all in a single word.
More Ways to Express Thank you in Japanese
- Thank you.
The Japanese word サンキュー (sankyu-) derives from the English word “thank you”, hence the similarities in pronunciation. Unlike the English word, though, サンキュー (sankyu-) is considered to be a casual expression.
Therefore, you should use サンキュー (sankyu-) when speaking with friends, family, or those you have an intimate connection with. Furthermore, the word may come across as somewhat playful, so, during serious conversations, you may be better of sticking with ありがとう (arigatou) instead.
Interestingly, the word サンキュー (sankyu-) also happens to have the same phonetics as the numbers 3 and 9 when spoken in Japanese. The pronounciation for the number 3, being さん (san), and 9 being きゅう (kyuu).
For this reason, you may encounter some interesting takes on the numbers 3 and 9, that when put together, can represent サンキュー (sankyu-) in Japanese.
No Thank You in Japanese
There are a number of ways you can express “no thank you” and decline someone’s offer or request in Japanese.
Very Formal No Thank You
- No thank you (formal).
The word 結構です (kekkou desu) is the most formal and direct way to express “no thank you” in Japanese.
Being quite a direct word, it can come across as quite blunt or abrupt if used during the wrong scenarios. Thus, using it when you need to convey precisely that you are declining something is recommended.
It has the nuance of “I’m good, no thanks”.
For instance, perhaps a shop assistant is advertising a product to you. To state that you do not want it, you can say:
watashi ha kekkou desu.
No thank you, I am good.
Interestingly, you can pair 結構です (kekkou desu), meaning “no thank you with ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu) meaning “thank you”. Here’s how it works.
As mentioned, the subject of sentences in Japanese can be dropped. This means that if you are asked if you’d like something, you could first reply with simply 結構です (kekkou desu) which would convey the meaning of “no thank you”.
Following up with ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu) afterwards would then tell the other person that you’re grateful for their help.
kekkou desu. arigatou gozaimasu.
I’m good (no thanks). Thank you (for your help).
Body language is also important in Japanese culture, bowing and other etiquettes can go a long way when wanting to be polite.
Formal No Thank You
A slightly less formal way to express “no thank you” in Japanese, and the way I personally prefer using is to use is the following phrase:
I fully explain the ins and outs of expressing “okay” in Japanese in this ultimate guide.
In short, 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) is a much more friendly, yet polite way to express that you don’t need or want something in Japanese. The expression 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) is extremely flexible and can be used in a plethora of situations.
For instance, a cashier may ask you if you’d like a plastic bag at the convenience store. You could say:
fukuro ha daijoubu desu.
Don’t worry about the bag.
Of course, replying simply with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) would also be sufficient.
As another example, imagine you’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks if you’d like a refill on your drink. You could reply:
watashi ha daijoubu desu.
By itself, 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) has many meanings. These include “no thanks”, “I’m good”, “okay”, hence the wide variety of uses.
Casual No Thank You
You may also wish to express “no thank you” casually in Japanese, such as when speaking with friends. To do this, you can simply remove the です (desu) and say:
It’s also worth noting that as you don’t need to specify pronouns in Japanese, simply saying 大丈夫 (daijoubu) can mean both “I’m okay” or “it’s okay”. Which meaning is being referred to, can usually be understood from the context.
Thanks For The Meal in Japanese
- Thanks for the meal.
The above phrase is often said before eating a meal in Japan. It is similar to saying grace, however, there is much more to this word that can’t be justified in a single translation.
The literal meaning of いただきます (itadakimasu), is “I humbly accept it”, yet there is an underlying sense of gratitude to be felt with these powerful words.
When you say いただきます (itadakimasu), you’re emphasising your gratitude for the source of the food and meal entirely. You honour those who were involved in making the meal a reality, not just the cook, but the farmers, fishermen, merchants – everyone and everything.
For that reason, while reciting the phrase, some people will clasp their hands together, occasionally grasping the chopsticks with their thumbs and closing their eyes.
Thanks For Your Work Today
- Good work today/thanks for your work.
The above phrase is often used to thank someone for their hard work. You can use it in the workplace with colleagues, or you can even say it to a friend who has just finished a study session.
You have reached the end of this ultimate guide! お疲れ様です！(otsukaresama desu).
There are, of course, many more nuances to this expression. You can find the full explanation and a list of synonyms in this ultimate guide, that details how to say “Good Job” in Japanese.
Or, if you fancy browsing through the collection of How-to Japanese Ultimate Guides, you can find a link here: