As a visitor to Japan or someone who is learning basic Japanese, you may have already come across two commonly used expressions: Arigato and Arigato Gozaimasu. Both these phrases are used to express gratitude, but there is a difference between them, and using them appropriately is important in order to avoid confusion and potential misunderstandings.
Arigato, with its polite and simple gesture, is a casual and informal way of saying thank you. It is more commonly used among friends or family members and in relatively less formal settings. The word Arigato derives from the Japanese verb “Ari,” which means “to exist.” Therefore, expressing gratitude by saying “Arigato” is stating that the thing or the person being thanked exists, and for that reason, the person is being thanked. It is a standard word that can be used when thanking someone who has done something for you or when receiving a small favour etc.
On the other hand, Arigato Gozaimasu is a more formal expression of gratitude, and its usage is more common in official settings or business situations. It is also used when someone wants to express a more heartfelt and sincere thank you. The phrase Arigato Gozaimasu is considered one of the polite phrases in Japanese that is used to show respect to the person being thanked. This is because the phrase carries an element of respect and acknowledgment towards the other person while expressing gratitude, and is considered the more polite and formal form.
The actual meaning of Arigato Gozaimasu is a bit more complex, as it is derived from three different phrases. “Arigato” is derived from the verb “Ari,” which means to exist or to have, and “gozaimasu” derives from the verb “gozaru,” which means to be or to exist, and “masu,” which is a polite sentence-ending expression. Therefore, the overall meaning of “Arigato Gozaimasu” is “I humbly exist and you humbly exist, and I am grateful for that fact.” This polite expression is commonly used in service-oriented situations, such as in a restaurant or shopping mall, to express gratitude towards workers or staff members for their services.
Despite the formal and informal expression difference, the use of Arigato and Arigato Gozaimasu depends on various factors, including the level of closeness, formality, occasion, and the social status of the person being thanked. For instance, using Arigato Gozaimasu with an elderly person or a customer representative may show their respect and humbleness, while Arigato may be used more informally with friends or peers.
To sum up, mastering language starts with the basics, and understanding and using these minor differences between “Arigato” and “Arigato Gozaimasu” correctly will help develop genuine appreciation and respect towards local cultural norms. Remember, using the right word at the right time will show your respect towards the person you are thanking, leading to long-term relationships and positive experiences.
In conclusion, while Arigato and Arigato Gozaimasu may seem similar in meaning and usage, the difference between the two lies in its formality and its level of politeness. Therefore, using one over the other depends on various social settings and the person being thanked. As a foreigner, mastering these simple yet essential phrases will help you quickly connect with Japanese people and be more respectful and appreciative towards their culture.