Alternate You’re Welcomes (Update)

After going over 助かる助かりました (alternative versions of “Thank you”) the last couple weeks, I thought I’d give you some ways to say “You’re welcome” other than the standard どういたしまして. There are a bunch:

ドンマイ – This is short for “Don’t mind.” The actual meaning is closer to “No worries,” and it’s usually repeated for emphasis. ドンマイドンマイ. One of my favorites to throw around due to its hilarity.

とんでもありません – I believe this literally means “not at all.” You are basically negating whatever has just been said to you, specifically the heaps of thanks/praise just piled upon you for doing whatever wonderful thing you just did. (Confusingly, とんでもない can also be used as an adjective to mean “not unimpressive.” e.g. とんでもない間違いですよ! “That is a pretty ridiculous mistake (you moron).” Something like that.)

いいえ・いえいえ – Again, you’re dismissing something someone has said. If you happen to be a dude, make sure you say this in a suitably deep voice. I feel like the intonation requires a slight rise in tone, and if you don’t start at a low enough tone, you’ll end up sounding like a lady.

はい・ほい – Sometimes all you have to do is recognize the person’s thanks with a slightly longer than normal は〜い. I’ve noticed that the people in my office kind of soften it by saying ほ〜い, which is possibly for ladies only?

Updated with a comment from facebook – Yoko, a former classmate, sez:

haha, yeah, ドンマイ is pretty funny. i think ‘ほ~い’ is more of a ojiichan-way of saying はい, but girls use it since the trend nowadays is to use more masculine terms (like when a girl says うまい instead of おいしい) either that or ほ~い is somewhat disrespectful so if a guy says it he might get in trouble :P

11 thoughts on “Alternate You’re Welcomes (Update)

  1. I never use ドンマイ just because Japanese will often use it to me when speaking in broken English. Another one that you can add would be いいよ. Adults rarely use this but I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s pretty common with kids up to high school students. How about 喜んで?

  2. The “tondemonai” connection becomes clearer when you think about “to(n)” as 途, referring to something like “reason” or “rationality” (as opposed to things that are possible but ridiculous, unthinkable, etc.). To rephrase stiltedly:

    “It never would have even occurred to me to think of that favor as troublesome!”
    “It never would have even occurred to me that anyone could make a mistake like that!”

  3. Derek: That’s why it’s funny! Although I also break out the 超ベリ quite often for humor purposes. I will do nearly anything for a laugh in Japanese. 喜んで – never use it myself. Seems like a flourish, like I should add a bow and little wavy thing with my hand. Not sure I’ve ever been 喜んでd by someone.

    Matt: Nice, that makes complete sense. I figured the とん meant something but couldn’t coerce a kanji from kotoeri (or the Windows 変換 system at work today), so I gave up. I knew it wasn’t 豚. Whattup with the floaty ん? Is that originally a の?

  4. I forgot to also add that とんでもないっす! is cooler and more dude-like, for those of you who have been brainwashed by teachers of the softer sex.

  5. Please no… not the 超ベリ. It’s almost as bad as バッチ・グー…
    As for the 喜んで, I picked it up when I was a high school AET. The JTE translated the sentence “I’d love to go” as “喜んで行きます”, then I took it a step further by using 喜んで as “my pleasure”. I’ve used it several times in response after being thanked; for example: いや、いや、喜んで. I haven’t been corrected nor advised otherwise yet, so I’m assuming it’s ok. Actually, now that I think about it, Japanese rarely correct a gaijin’s broken Japanese, at least in my case (I’ve tested them before). I will ask the 国語先生 tomorrow.

  6. Hey. Great blog. I found it through a link on Japan Probe to your 1Q84 coverage.

    You might wanto be careful with using とんでもありません. That’s actually improper Japanese, though it’s a mistake often made by natives along with とんでもございません.

    とんでもない is an adjective just like 大きい or 少ない, but you would never say 大きありません or 少なありません, right?

    If you want to make とんでもない more polite, you can do the following:

  7. Thanks, Chris! I knew that going the ~ないです route felt more natural for some reason…just couldn’t explain why! And とんでもないっす is far cooler-sounding.

    Update your blog, man! That’s some good stuff.

  8. I like とんでもないっす!too, but only when non-Japanese guys say it :)
    Don’t know if it’s just me, but I usually just say the literal translation of the English ‘anytime’ or ‘of course, my pleasure’ which is simply いつでも!or もちろん!(or もち)

  9. Well… it really comes down to whether you believe “とんでもない” has become an adjective or not. Etymologically speaking, とんでもない is a perfectly normal sentence ending in the verb ない. So just as you can say “そうでもありません” and “仕方ありません”, you should be able to say “とんでもありません”. The fact that there are still plenty of native speakers who do this shows that it isn’t a mistake, more of a survival.

    On the other hand it’s true that there are other native speakers who understand it as an adjective like Chris says. And they aren’t wrong either. They’re just speaking a different (newer) dialect.

    Interestingly enough the ~ないです polite adjective ending itself had similar origins. It would be hard to argue that this is not standard modern Japanese at this point. But it began as a new, dialectical thing, opposed by speakers of the older dialect, and there are still many people who consider it an inelegant kludge, even if they use it themselves. I am one such person, so maybe I’m just biased overall, but I don’t think that とんでもない has reached that tipping point yet.

  10. The official word from a 国語先生 is: 喜んで is not natural. Too bad no one ever corrected me when I used it… I’ve used it a few times in the last year.

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