“Arigato” and “Arigato gozaimasu” are the most frequently used phrases to say thank you in Japanese. But how do you respond to “Arigato”? I have put together a couple of words and phrases you can use to say “You’re welcome” in Japanese. Let’s get started with the most famous and the most common replies.
“Dou itashimashite” (どう致しまして) means “You’re welcome” and is widely known as the common response to “arigato gozaimasu”, but it sounds rather stiff and formal. “Iie iie” (いいえいいえ) or “ii yo ii yo” (いいよいいよ) translate as “Not at all” and are casual replies that are more frequently used in daily life.
These phrases are good responses when you are a beginner. However, if you are interested in more advanced and even politer phrases that you can also use in business situations you should keep reading. In my blog post, you will find 9 proper and natural replies and even more variations that you can use to say phrases such as “You’re welcome“, “Not at all“, or “Don’t mention it” in Japanese.
1. Dou Itashimashite – You’re Welcome (formal)
This is the standard reply that Japanese textbooks teach you to use when someone says “Arigato” or “Arigato gozaimasu”. Dou itashimashite (どう致しまして or どういたしまして) means “You are welcome“, “Don’t mention it“, “Not at all“, or “My pleasure“.
However, the reply is rather stiff and actually not that commonly used in daily life. It is way too formal for friends and family, but not humble enough as a reply to your superiors because it means that you accept the thanks and make you sound like you deserve it.
In my opinion, you can use the phrase in business situations when you know the other person reasonably well. So for example with a senior (senpai) you are close with or your juniors (kohai).
2. Iie Iie – Not At All, No Problem (most common)
Iie iie (いいえいいえ), also written as ie ie (いえいえ) can be translated as “Not at all“, “No problem“, or “Don’t mention it“. It is one of the most commonly used replies when a friend, family member, and often even a stranger says “Arigato” (ありがとう) or “Arigato gozaimasu” (ありがとうございます).
You can either just respond with the phrases as they are “iie iie” or “ie ie“. Or you can combine them with another sentence. Some common variations are “Ie ie, daijoubu desu” (いえいえ、大丈夫です) or “Iie iie, yasui go-you desu” (いいえいいえ、安いご用です). Daijoubu means “okay” and “yasui go-you” means “easy task”. So both phrases mean something along the lines of “No worries, it’s okay!” or “No problem, it was nothing!”.
Sometimes you will also hear the phrase “Iie, betsu ni” (いいえ、別に) which can also mean “Not at all“. However, “betsu ni” can come across as very cold, so I do not recommend using it.
Not at all.
Not at all.
|Iie, dou itashimashite|
No, not at all.
|Ie ie, daijobu desu|
No worries, it’s okay!
|Iie iie, yasui go-you desu|
No problem, it was nothing!
3. Ii Yo Ii Yo – Anytime, Not at all (casual)
This is another casual and quite common phrase that my host mother used all the time when I said thank you to her. II yo ii yo (いいよいいよ) is just like “Anytime“, “Not at all“, or “No problem” in English. Since it is a very casual response it is better to only use it with friends, family members, and people you are very close with.
Furthermore, be careful not to confuse it with the very similar word “iyoiyo” (いよいよ) which means “eventually“, “finally“, or “more and more“.
|Ii yo ii yo|
Anytime / Not at all
4. Tondemonai Desu – Don’t Mention it (formal)
Tondemonai desu (とんでもないです) is a very polite phrase that is often used among adults and especially among women. It means “Don’t mention it” or “You’re welcome“. When I say “Arigato” to my female colleagues at work they usually reply with this phrase. To me, it sounds very ladylike.
There are also some politer variations of this phrase. You can also say Tondemo gozaimasen (とんでもございません) or Tondemonai koto de gozaimasu (とんでもないことでございます).
Don’t mention it.
Please don’t mention it.
|Tondemonai koto de gozaimasu|
Not at all, please don’t mention it.
5. Kochira Koso – I Should Be Thanking You (semi-formal)
Kochira koso (こちらこそ) is a very handy phrase in my situations. It means “I’m the one who should be saying this” or just “Same to you” or “Likewise” and can be used when thanking someone or apologizing to someone. If you use it as a response to “Arigato” it means “I’m the one who should be thanking you” or shorter “I should be thanking you“.
Often you will also hear the longer version Kochira koso arigato gozaimasu (こちらこそありがとうございます) which literally translates as “I’m the one who should be saying thank you” or “Iie iie, kochira koso arigato gozaimasu” (いいえいいえ、こちらこそありがとうございます) which means “No, not at all. I’m the one who should be thanking you“.
I should be thanking you
|Kochira koso arigatou |
I’m the one who should be saying thanks
|Kochira koso arigatou gozaimasu|
I’m the one who should be saying thank you
6. Oyaku ni Tatete Ureshii Desu – I’m Glad I Could Be of Help
Now we will take a look at more formal phrases again. “Oyauki ni tatete ureshii desu” (お役に立てて嬉しいです) is a very polite and humble response when your boss thanks you with “Arigato” or “Arigato gozaimasu. In English, it means “I’m glad I could be of help” or “I’m happy that I could help you“.
Instead of ureshii (嬉しい) you can also use yokatta (良かった or よかった) and reply with “Oyaku ni tatete yokatta desu” (お役に立てて良かったです). The English translation is essentially the same. Yet another very similar phrase is “Oyaku ni tatete kouei desu” (お役に立てて光栄です) which translates as “It’s an honor to be a help to you” or “I feel honored that I could be of help“.
Oh, and as a side note “Yaku ni tatsu” (役に立つ) actually means “to be helpful” or “to be useful“.
|Oyaku ni tatete ureshii desu|
I’m glad I could be of help.
|Oyaku ni tatete yokatta desu|
I’m glad I could be of help.
|Oyaku ni tatete kouei desu|
I feel honored that I could be of help.
7. Otetsudai ga Dekite Yokatta Desu – I’m Glad I Could Help
“Otetsudai ga dekite yokatta desu” (お手伝いができて良かったです) is very similar to the phrase we have just learned. Tetsudai (手伝い) means “help” and can also be used when you need to ask for help in Japanese. The whole phrase means “I’m glad I could help” or “I’m glad that I could help you“.
As with the previous phrase you can make some minor adjustments and use ureshii (嬉しい) or kouei (光栄) instead of yokatta (良かった or よかった). I have listed them down below.
|Otetsudai ga dekite yokatta desu|
I’m glad I could help you.
|Otetsudai ga dekite ureshii desu|
I’m glad I could help you.
|Otetsudai ga dekite kouei desu|
I feel honored that I could help you.
8. Itsu Demo Douzo – Anytime, Ask Me Anytime (casual)
Itsu demo douzo (いつでもどうぞ) is another rather casual response you can use as a reply when one of your Japanese friends say thank you to you. It can be translated as “Anytime” or “Ask me anytime” and shows that you are willing to help them out no matter what.
|Itsu demo douzo|
Ask me anytime
9. Doumo Doumo – It’s Nothing At All, You’re Welcome
You might already know the word doumo (どうも) from the polite phrase “Doumo arigatou gozaimasu” (どうもありがとうございます) which means “Thank you very much“. It’s another very useful word that can be used in countless situations such as when saying thank you or hello in Japanese (see my post: 26 Ways to Say “Hello” in Japanese).
After “Arigato” you can either say “Doumo doumo” (どうもどうも) which I would translate as “It’s nothing at all“. Or you just reply with “Doumo” (どうも) which sounds more like a basic “You’re welcome” to me. I always have trouble deciding if this is a casual or a polite phrase. It’s probably something in between so I would say it is semi-casual.
It’s nothing at all.