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What is Gannbatte?

edited December 2012 in Japanese
I am wondering if someone can clarify Gannbatte? I know it means good luck, or do your best(?) but why do Japanese use it so often? I want to better unstand this concept. Thanks!!


  • edited December 2012
    The Japanese version of “Good luck!” doesn’t actually say “Good luck”. The phrase is 頑張ってください Ganbatte kudasai (polite) or 頑張って Ganbatte (casual), and it literally means, “Do your best”. It’s interesting how the English phrase is sort of spiritual and wishing for some good luck to be brought to you, whereas the Japanese version emphasizes your own efforts.

    If somebody says to you, 頑張ってください Ganbatte kudasai or 頑張って Ganbatte, you can say, はい、頑張ります! Hai, ganbarimasu! (polite) or うん、頑張る!Un, ganbaru! (casual) in response. It means, “Yes, I’ll do my best!”

    Saying 頑張ってください Ganbatte kudasai or 頑張って Ganbatte makes sense when your friend is taking an exam, or going to a job interview. But what do you say if a situation is such that it’s really a matter of luck - for example, your friend is simply awaiting lottery numbers to be drawn. In such a case, saying 頑張ってください Ganbatte kudasai or 頑張って Ganbatte doesn’t make any sense. Then you have to say something specific, such as 宝くじが当たるといいですね。 Takarakuji ga ataru to ii desu ne. (I hope that your number will be drawn.) So basically, in such situations, there’s really no short fixed phrase that can replace “Good luck!” in English.
  • Sakura, thank you and it is pretty interesting on the differences between English and Japanese thinking of doing one's best vs wishing one luck.
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