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Saying "You're welcome" in Japanese - not recommended

edited February 2013 in Japanese
The Japanese language is known to have a lot of polite expressions and courtesy expressions. The phrase "You're welcome" is normally regarded as a courtesy expression; however, I don't recommend using this phrase in Japanese (which goes, どういたしまして Doo itashimashite).

Why not? This is because it doesn't sound humble, but instead it could sound like you think you deserve some appreciation. This may not be true when "You're welcome" is uttered in English, but in Japanese it could be taken that way. Even if you actually do think you deserve some appreciation, you're suppose to hide it in Japanese! 

What should you say instead? Your appropriate response varies depending on the situation you're in, but here are a couple of suggestions:

  • こちらこそ、ありがとうございます。Kochirakoso arigatoo gozaimasu.
"Thank YOU!" 
(Adding the expression "kochirakoso" basically has the effect equivalent to putting a stress on "YOU" in English.)

  • いえいえ。 Ieie 
"No no."
(This basically means, "Not at all." It is a commonly used phrase; "No" is simply repeated twice, but because it's uttered very fast, the vowel "i" becomes short. So, instead of "Iie, iie", it becomes "Ieie".)


  • ありがとうございます Sakura san! I recently moved to Okinawa, which is why I'm learning Japanese, and I noticed that many people would repeat arigatoo gozaimasu back. This makes sense now.
  • Great, Heather! I'm so glad that to hear that. And I'm jealous that you're in sunny & beautiful Okinawa! 
  • How about:

  • edited February 2013
    Thanks for your suggestion! Actually 大丈夫ですよ Daijoobu desu yo. ("It's alright.") is better suited as a response to すみません (Sumimasen), rather than ありがとうございます Arigatoo gozaimasu. すみません Sumimasen has a few meanings: "I'm sorry", "Excuse me", and "Thank you". In any of these usages, you could respond, 大丈夫ですよ Daijoobu desu yo, if you think the context allows it. 

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