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What’s the Difference Between “Arigato” and “Arigato Gozaimasu”? (Surprising)

What’s the Difference Between “Arigato” and “Arigato Gozaimasu”? (Surprising)

These words are used to express gratitude. However, you might feel more thankful if you use “Arigato Gozaimasu” because it means “Thank you very much,” even if “Arigato” means “Thank you” as well.

If you’re an English speaker who’s simply learning the language, it’s understandable that these phrases might be confusing for you. However, if you love watching anime, you might have an idea of how to use them properly.

Thanks to the subtitles that gave you a hint!

As you go about this article, you’ll know the difference between the two terms, and perhaps it would be an encouragement for you to visit Japan and learn more from there.

So let’s get right to it!

How Unique is the Japanese Language?

It’s unique in its way. The Japanese Language is unique as it uses the SOV system- subject, object, and verb. Moreover, they have three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

Although Japanese has a lot of Chinese characters, it’s completely different from Chinese.

It’s a salient vowel language, meaning that all Japanese words end with a vowel. While English has 20 vowel sounds and 21 consonant sounds, Japanese has five long or short vowel sounds and 14 consonant sounds.

Anime and Japanese Language

The Japanese Language has gained popularity because Japanese animation is a global hit. We know this as anime.

Anime is a very distinctive style of animation that originated in Japan. It’s characterized by very vibrant and colorful graphics portraying unique characters.

The plots of anime are mostly action-filled with futuristic themes. It’s different from cartoons due to its unique features and distinct style.

Anime has gained quite popularity in recent years due to its highly diverse variety of stories. It consists of many genres, such as romance, comedy, thriller, horror, and adventure.

You must have watched at least one anime cartoon in your childhood! A few popular ones include “Dragon Ball Z,” “Naruto,” and “Pokémon.”

Most anime is spoken in the standard Japanese Language. Even though most places in Japan have their dialect and a variety of Japanese, the one spoken on TV is usually understood by everyone.

However, real-life Japanese differs from anime Japanese as politeness, an integral part of speaking Japanese, is removed from anime.

They prefer to use a more casual way of speaking and a stylized and characterized form of communication. Anime uses more abbreviations and slang, and the Language spoken is what you would use with your friends but not seniors.

An image of a Japanese store or shop.
Are you ready to say your thanks to a Japanese Store?

What is “Arigato” and “Arigato Gozaimasu” in Japanese?

In Japan, “arigato” is used to say “Thank you” to someone simply. It’s the casual way.

Politeness is highly valued in Japanese culture and there are more ways of saying thank you than just saying “arigato” such as “arigato gozaimasu.” It’s a more polite phrase that can be used for elders and seniors as it simply means “Thank you very much!”.

In short, “Arigato” is a quick way of saying “thanks” and is a decent enough term to be used with your friends and, in some cases, your family. Adding gozaimasu adds formality and, therefore, can be used with others like elders and strangers.

How To Answer Arigato?

In response to this phrase, people usually reply with “ie ie” (i-ye).

Although “you’re welcome” translates to “do itashimashite” in Japanese, people often don’t use it. Instead, they prefer “ie ie” (i-ye) to respond to someone, which means “Not at all!”.

Maybe they prefer doing so because it sounds sweeter than the formal one.

However, there are many more ways of telling someone “you’re welcome” in Japanese and these alternative responses to “arigato” include:

  • Mata, itsudemo osshatte kudasai
    You can translate this phrase to “Please repeat anything, anytime” in English in English. So basically, you’re telling someone to feel free to ask you for help again.
  • Otetsudai dekite yokatta desu
    This means, “I’m glad I was able to help.” This shows that you don’t mind helping someone when they’re in need.
  • Duomo Duomo
    It’s a very convenient phrase that stands for many things, such as “hello,” “never mind,” “you’re welcome,” and “goodbye.”

Which One Should You Use?

The difference between arigato and arigato gozaimasu comes down to who you’re speaking with. The main factor could be your relationship with them and your preferred way of communication.

The most common question related to the two terms is which one should be used and when?

Arigato, which means thanks, is the most basic and one of the most common ways to thank your close friends and family members in Japan.

You can use it in everyday life, when talking to your peers, siblings, or, let’s say, people that you’re comfortable with, then you can use the simple term- “arigato.”

Well, suppose you’re expressing appreciation to a stranger or someone older than you, like your teachers or senior colleagues at work. In that case, you should use a more polite version of thanking them- “arigato gozaimasu.”

Moreover, if you’re a tourist, I suggest using the phrase arigato gozaimasu instead.

This is because it’s a more polite way of speaking with people in Japan, especially shop or hotel staff, and shows that you respect them. In addition, it’s also used with strangers, older people, your boss from work, and anyone you don’t have an informal personal connection with and highly regarded.

Therefore, the main difference is that arigato is a more casual version of arigato gozaimasu, preferred in more formal situations.

A street in Japan at night.
Japan is indeed both exciting in language and culture.

Is it Rude to Just Say Arigato?

Yes, it is for some people. While “arigato” does mean thank you, it’s a very informal way of appreciating someone.

Therefore, it’s not recommended to use it within formal situations such as your workplace. Also, when referring to elders, you may use the more extended version- arigato gozaimasu- to make sure that you don’t offend them.

Elders and strangers generally expect certain respect and a more formal tone from people and therefore saying arigato simply might come off as rude or ignorant.

Moreover, if you’re receiving a gift from someone or anything valuable from a respected person, saying just arigato can be very rude.

You should always use the more formal version with “gozaimasu” to show how much you love and value their gift and them!

Why Do You Say Gozaimasu?

The term “gozaimasu” is a very polite expression and can be translated roughly as “am,” “us,” or “our” in English. This explains why gozaimasu is placed at the end of some phrases to make them more polite.

Gozaimasu is a polite form of the verb “gozaru,” an older way of saying “to be.” Additionally, the word gozaimasu is composed of honorable characters and positions. It’s usually written only with Hiragana.

Gozaimasu is also considered an archaic word and a humble version of “art” that means “to be.” However, these days, this term has largely been replaced with “desu,” a more simplified version of “are.” But the word didn’t really die. It’s just that maybe because “desu” is easier to say!

Do You Always Have to Say Desu?

Desu” is a word that holds a lot of importance and is considered essential to the Japanese Language.

If you plan on speaking with someone who has high authority, such as government officials, then it’s recommended that you use the word “desu.”

However, it’s certainly not required at the end of every sentence. Although when writing or speaking in a polite style, you can add this word to be more formal and in the hope of not offending anyone!

What’s “Domo Arigato”?

This translates to “Many thanks” in English.

If you’re pleased and don’t know how to express your thanks to someone, you can always use “Domo Arigato”!

In Japan, Domo arigato is an even more polite way of saying thank you. Domo typically means “very,” Therefore, people add it to show how much they appreciate someone or some action.

People also use “Domo” instead of “arigato” when they feel that arigato gozaimasu is too formal in a particular situation. It could mean “Thanks a lot!” and sounds more grateful than simply arigato.

It’s a helpful expression when you want to emphasize or stress the appreciation or apology to someone. Alone yOU can also use the word “DOMO” to greet “hello.”

What is Meant by Arigato Gozaimashita?

This also means “thank you,” but this time, it refers to an appreciation of the past.

So, for example, you can use this phrase instead of the simple gozaimasu when you’re leaving a shop after being helped or after you have been guided around town the entire day.

When you’ve returned home as a tourist, you could use this phrase in your email to thank someone who has helped you in Japan.

Take a look at this video to be able to understand the difference better:

In short, Gozaimasu is present and future tense, whereas, Gozaimashita is past tense.

Common Japanese Words

When you think of visiting Japan, you should always know a few phrases to feel more comfortable in a foreign country.

Here’s a list of a few words that you can quickly learn:

Japanese WordMeaning
Hai Yes
KonbanwaGood Evening/Hello
Onegai shimasuPlease
GomennasaiI am sorry
Senpai A Senior
OniisanElder Brother
Daijōbu Okay, Good
Ufreshii Happy or Glad
Tomodachi Friend
Now that you know these, you may use them with your friends!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, to answer the main question, “arigato” means thank you and is a simpler version of the more formal term “arigato gozaimasu,” which stands for “thank you very much” in Japanese. Gozaimasu- is just a flowery word added to make “thank you” in Japanese more polite and kind.

This could be really helpful, especially when you’re a tourist who wants to learn and respect the Japanese people and their culture. But if you’re just curious, I hope this article helped you know better.

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Click here to see arigato and arigato gozaimasu differences in this web story.

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