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It’s a question I sometimes get asked not only by beginners, but also by advanced students.The answer is simple, but I’ll write it out to make sure you understand it.
“Arigato” expresses gratitude. You say it when someone has done something for you—for example, if your boss helped you with something at work.
“Tetsudatte kudasatte, arigato gozaimashita.” (1)The past tense “gozaimashita” is used because your boss had already helped you before you said it. This makes sense, doesn't it?
However, the present tense “arigato gozaimasu” can also be used in this case. That’s why these expressions cause confusion.
Consider this next example. Let’s say your client is going to prepare some documents for you by next week.
“Arigato gozaimasu. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” (2)The present tense is used because your client hasn’t prepared them yet. In this case, you can’t use the past tense. Remember: The past tense can’t be applied to incomplete events. This is a rule!
Let’s have a look at other expressions: “Otsukaresama desu” and “otsukaresama deshita.”The same rule applies here, too.
It’s 7 PM and all employees are going home after work. What would you say to your colleagues?
“Otsukaresama deshita.” (1)Work for the day is finished (1), so the past tense “deshita” is used. Japanese people say this to each other to mutually acknowledge their hard work. Like “arigato”, you can say “otsukaresama desu” in the present tense.
Actually, you always hear “otsukaresama” at Japanese companies during the day and not only at the end of the day or after long meetings. People say it whenever they pass by each other. You can consider this expression to be a greeting used in the same way as “ohayo” and “konnichiwa.”
And, in cases where work is not over yet (2), you should say it like this:
“Otsukaresama desu.” (2)Even in the middle of the day, it expresses something like “You’ve been working hard today. Are you tired? Are you okay?”
Moving on, how about these expressions: “Osewa ni narimasu” and “osewa ni narimashita”? It’s not easy to translate them into English, but do you understand their meaning?
They are used when expressing gratitude to someone for taking care of you, helping you, or working with you.
For example, when you leave a company where you’ve worked for five years, you feel grateful to your colleagues.
"Ima made taihen osewa ni narimashita." (1) (Thank you very much for all of your kind help.)The act of receiving help from your colleagues has finished, so in this case, the present/future tense is not used.
On the other hand, when you begin working at new office, you expect that your new colleagues will work with you and help you a lot. So, you say,
"Korekara osewa ni narimasu." (2)This is about future, therefore “narimasu” is used and only this form is possible.
What would you say to clients you have been working with for a while?
Itsumo osewa ni natteimasu. (3)
Itsumo osewa ni natteorimasu. (polite version)“Teimasu”, indicating a ongoing state, is used because these refer to a daily situation. When you want to be polite, convert “imasu” to its humble form, “orimasu.”
These are very typical Japanese greetings and essential at Japanese offices. I hope you can use these expressions correctly in various situations.
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Happy New Year 2017!
Yet another years has gone by. I haven’t posted anything for the last three months. However, “Nihongo Day By Day - English” surpassed 10,000 page views last November and December! Arigato gozaimashita!! I thank all of you — those who just had a quick look and also those who read the entire articles. I’m very happy.
To commemorate reaching 10,000 page views, I’ll write a follow-up to my Japanese station announcements article, which has been the most popular article on this blog.
In the first version, I introduced “door ga shimarimasu”, but I sometimes hear “door o shimemasu”. What is the difference between “ga” and “o” and also between “shimarimasu” and “shimemasu”?
door ga shimarimasu: The door will be closing on its own.
(watashi wa) door o shimemasu: I (the train crew) am closing the door.“Shimemasu” is for someone’s action and “o” is an object marker.
Next, you hear something like this.
“muri na go-josha wa o-yame kudasai.muri na: impossible, unreasonable
(go-)josha: boarding (“go” is an honorific prefix)
o-yame kudasai: to stop/quit (“o” is an honorific prefix)
What is impossible boarding? Is that something like the trains in India that have people crammed both inside and on top of trains?
No, that never happens in Japan. Rather, “muri na go-josha” refers to dashing to get on the train right before the door closes.
As I wrote last time, Japan loves warnings. Other people will caution you even for things you have to take care of by yourself.
“kono saki yuremasu node, go-chui kudasai.”
kono saki: from now on/from this point on
node: because/thereforeEveryone more or less expects that trains will shake, though...
These next announcements are rather important. Trains stop at every station along Tokyo Metro, but JR lines and other train lines have different types of trains, such as express or super express. They are quite difficult to get your head around.
“kono densha wa shimbashi ni teisha itashimasen. Tsugi no densha o go-riyou kudasai.”
kono densha: this train
shimbashi: a name of the station in Tokyo
teisha shimasu: to stop
itashimasen: the humble form of shimasen
tsugi no densha: next train(go-)riyou kudasai: please use
“shuten made kaku eki ni tomarimasu”
shuten: final stop/station
kaku eki: each stationtomarimasu: to stop
If you miss these announcements, trains sometimes don’t stop at your station or else they stop at every station and take longer than expected to reach your destination.When you’re unsure whether or not a train stops at your destination, try to ask someone this question:
“kono densha (pointing at the train) wa your destination ni tomarimasu ka?”(Is this train going to stop at your destination?)
It’s tough to get on and off trains or buses at unfamiliar places. Even if you carefully check your surroundings and the destination or number of train/bus, it’s easy to make mistakes. The other day I took the wrong bus in Kyoto - twice!
Even when I go to an unfamiliar station in Tokyo, I have no idea which direction to go and even board trains going in the opposite direction from time to time. This is not a language issue, but just depends whether or not you understand the layout of the area.
Lastly, I’m going to post as many articles as I can this year, so I hope you will keep reading. Thank you!