"Sorry" or "Thank you"?

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by adexx, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. adexx

    adexx Senior Member

    I noticed that in many cases, instead of saying "thank you" after having someone else do something for you, Japanese people tend to say "Sorry" rather than "thank you".I understand that it's the culture, but does it sound weird if someone says "Thank you" and not "Sorry"? I'd like to hear opinions of native speakers.For instance, if you stop someone on the street to ask for directions. After that, should I say "どうもすみません" or "ありがとうございます" or both "どうもすみません. ありがとうございます" ? Which is the most common & natural?Thanks.
  2. carp3 New Member

    Japanese - Tokyo
    I would say ありがとうございます in such a case. If I feel I really bothered him I might say すいません。In general I think I say すいません instead of thank you when the action deserves less than ありがとうございます for example when somebody hands me a paper. By the way you hears ありがとう more often in Kansai with an accent on tou.
  3. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    すみません is not just for being sorry. Where ありがとう can be also used, it's more like "Much obliged."

    I just mention that apology is built around different concepts in Japan and other places in the world.
  4. lrosa Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    I've noticed that Japanese people do often come across as apologetic (at least to the eyes of a half-外人 such as myself :D) when saying すみません in this kind of context. I tend to think of it in a similar way to English expressions such as "It's too much" or "You shouldn't have" when accepting a favour/gift.
  5. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Ah, lrosa, that's a better example of what I meant. すみませんねえ。(<- while being least apologetic) :D

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