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Thanks in Japanese




Contents in Thanks Unit

As you move through examples and exercises you will learn about thanks in Japanese.

In the thanking situation, there usually is an imbalance in the relationship between the speaker and the hearer. The speaker owes a favor to the hearer, as the hearer is doing or has done something for the benefit of the speaker. By thanking, the speaker expresses his/her feelings of indebtedness as well as those of thanks. What are some strategies Japanese speakers might use to acknowledge the imbalance? How do they attempt to remedy the imbalance?  

Exercises 1: Thanks and Apologies in Japanese

Expressions and feelings of thanks and apologies are very much intertwined in Japanese. Let’s look at how these feelings are related and what language is used to express thanks, apologies, and both.

Go to Exercise 1

Exercises 2: Observing Thanks in Japanese

There are likely to be cultural differences between your native and target language that you may wish to adjust to as you perform speech acts.  In this exercise, compare your language use in relation to your interlocutor. Make your own hypothesis as to how your language patterns are likely to shift when you give thanks in Japanese.

Go to Exercise 2

Exercises 3: Expressions of Thanks

Let’s review the politeness levels of typical expressions of gratitude and learn to address them to the right person.

Go to Exercise 3

Exercises 4: Functions Performed in Expressing Thanks

Just like apology expressions serve various functions, expressions of thanks also fulfill multiple functions besides showing gratitude. Being strategic in performing thanks means being aware of these multiple functions that expressions of thanks can serve. 

Go to Exercise 4

Coffee Break


Speakers often express their thanks for an offer even if they don’t accept it.

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Exercises 5: Expressions Before and After Thanking

Just like any other speech acts, thanks often do not stand alone, but come with other speech acts such as apologies and greetings. Take a look at the strategies that precede and follow expressions of thanks in Japanese.

Go to Exercise 5

Exercise 6: Thanks Once Again

In Japanese, you may sometimes be expected to give a follow-up thank you for a favor that you received some time before.  In what instances might this be the case, and what language should be used for this purpose?

Go to Exercise 6

Exercise 7: Tone of Thanks

Your tone of voice could make a big difference – it can make your thanks sound heartfelt or insincere. Listen and practice so that your thanks will signal that you are truly grateful.

Go to Exercise 7

Tea Break

People who are older or of higher status may sometimes treat you to a meal, so be prepared for these lucky occasions!


Giving Thanks to a Senpai  


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Giving Thanks to a Section Chief 


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Giving Thanks to a Department Head 


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Exercises 8-9: Simulation Exercises for Thanking

Now let’s just practice all that we have learned about thanks! You will be asked to self-evaluate the thanks you have given in these exercises.

Go to Exercise 8

Go to Exercise 9

Exercises 10: Responding to Thanks

Let’s reverse your role in this exercise and think about how you would respond if somebody is thanking you for what you have done for him/her. We can be strategic in responding to thanks as well as in giving thanks by becoming aware of certain strategies Japanese speakers are likely to use

Go to Exercise 10

Revisiting Useful Links

Ex1 Comments

Ex2 Comments

Ex4 Thanks/Apologies Summary Chart

Ex5 Strategies Summary

Ex5 Comments

Ex6 Comments

Ex8 Comments

Ex9 Comments

Ex10 Comments

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