You may already know the expression ありがとう Arigatou or its full form ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu. But there are many more ways to show your gratitude!
Let’s start with the variations of the simple ありがとう Arigatou:
Thanks a lot
Thank you (This is more polite than ありがとう Arigatou.)
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu
Thank you very much
Let’s move on to more advanced expressions now!
This is a past tense version of ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu. This expression is used when you thank for something that has been done to you, for example, you can say it to your teacher at the end of a lesson, or to your host when you leave a house party. Also the past tense version is the one to use when you write a Thank you letter.
You might be thinking that すみません Sumimasen means Excuse me or I’m sorry. You are right about that, but it can also be used to mean Thank you. Do you think it’s strange that a single expression can mean both I’m sorry and Thank you? You can use すみません Sumimasen to thank someone when you want to acknowledge the trouble that someone has taken for you. What you’re doing is “apologizing” for having made someone go to the trouble for your benefit. (It doesn’t matter whether you asked/wished for it or not.) This is a form of politeness!
For example, when somebody gives you a present, you can say すみません Sumimasen, acknowledging that he/she went to the trouble of getting a gift for you.
すみません Sumimasen is a very nice, polite expression. Also, you can even stack up expressions; no problem! For example, you could say, どうもすみません、ありがとうございます Doumo sumimasen, arigatougozaimasu!
Another expression that means Thank you in Japanese is 恐れ入ります Osoreirimasu. This is not something we casually use every day. Rather, it’s a very polite expression preferred by business people when talking to their customers.
Just like すみません Sumimasen mentioned earlier, 恐れ入ります Osoreirimasu is used to thank someone when you want to acknowledge the trouble that someone has gone to for you. So, take 恐れ入ります Osoreirimasu as the very polite version of すみません Sumimasen!
However, please note the following: While すみません Sumimasen can also be used to mean Excuse me or I’m sorry, 恐れ入ります Osoreirimasu is only used to mean Thank you; i.e. you cannot use it to apologize.
You do not want to use 恐れ入ります Osoreirimasu to your friends and family members, but if you use it to thank customers, bosses, strangers, you’re guaranteed to leave quite an impression!
(Image by Midori, via Wikimedia Commons)