Huh? words for “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” deserve to mean “Thank you?” i don’t gain it…

You’ve probably noticed by now that there are particular words and also phrases choose sumimasen(すみません) that don’t translate very well into English. This wake up in every language, for this reason it’s a an excellent idea come familiarize yourself through this and take on it if you want to sound much more natural once you speak. Today, we’re walking to learn the prominence of interpreting the context when speaking Japanese, particularly with sumimasen(すみません).

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すいません suimasen , Sumimasen すみません
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1 Sumimasen(すみません) can Mean thank You?2 Sumimasen(すみません): What go it yes, really Mean?3 script 2:4 let’s Look at “Sumimasen”5 paper definition is Key6 Sumimasen ! find out Japanese Online through

Sumimasen(すみません) deserve to Mean thank You?

Sometimes in Japanese, words that we think we know how to interpret will take it on a different meaning depending on context.

Context in Japanese

Japanese is recognized as a “high context” language. A high context language is one the conveys an interpretation without having to be specific or incorporate all information. This means that as soon as speaking Japanese, under words are used to convey definition because much of the details or feelings expressed go unstated and rely ~ above contextual elements. This have the right to be challenging for language learner unaccustomed come this type of communication. Regularly times once Japanese human being speak they will say one word and also the listener is meant to infer what is meant based on unstated contextual factors. This path of communication has its confident and an unfavorable sides.

Sumimasen(すみません) have the right to Mean thank You?

A good thing around it is the you don’t have to string a bunch the words together with every sentence in order come express yourself. In various other words, high context languages keep things short and sweet! However, it have the right to be a difficulty and occasionally frustrating to obtain used to reading non-verbal cues and also the general setting surrounding the exchange.

In contrast, English is a “low context” language. We assume the person to whom we’re speak will have no idea what we’re talking about unless we are details and detailed. Sometimes, in extreme cases, us may need to spell the end what we’re trying to say word for word in stimulate to make ourselves understood. If you clock a Japanese movie or display with English subtitles, you might see this in practice.

The English subtitles often tend to contain an ext words and also seem to convey much an ext than what the Japanese speaker on display screen says. The is since English speakers need much more detail to understand what is going on; conversely, in Japanese, sometimes just one word will suffice.

Because Japanese is a language that relies so much on context, friend may find looking increase words in one English-Japanese thesaurus confusing. Why does one word have so numerous different translations? Well, that’s because in one situation it would have one meaning, and also in another situation that would have a various meaning.Let’s look in ~ sumimasen as an example.

Sumimasen(すみません): What go it yes, really Mean?

The indigenous sumimasen (すみません) is a really great example of exactly how a native changes an interpretation depending on the context. Sumimasen is among the very first phrases Japanese-language students find out in their studies. That usually translated to “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” in English.

For example, if you’re shoulder-to-shoulder ~ above a pack train and you arrive at her stop, you need to gain past anyone so the you can obtain off. Therefore, you say, “Sumimasen,” and when people hear this, lock will acquire out of the means to let girlfriend by. Another method sumimasen is used is to gain someone’s attention—most frequently when call a waiter end to her table at a restaurant. In this cases, sumimasen would median “Excuse me.”

Another instance is if you’re in ~ a restaurant and a waiter knocks her water glass over on the table and spills it. The waiter would then say, “Sumimasen” while the tries his finest to clean increase the mess. Do you view what happened? The same word is being supplied in various situations. In this situation we know based upon what taken place that the waiter isn’t questioning you to move out that the way or make the efforts to gain your attention. In this context he has made a wrong that has caused uncomfortable to someone.

Therefore, that is clear the he is apologizing. Sumimasen in this instance means, “I’m sorry.”On height of that, walk you understand that sumimasen can additionally mean “Thank you” in the right context? it is right. The same word offered to express shame is used to refer gratitude. Whoa, right? Let’s take a look in ~ some instances below.

Scenario 1:

Mrs. Takahashi heads over to Mrs. Sato’s house for afternoon tea. When she come at the door, she has actually a gift the she intends to give Mrs. Sato. The gift is a box of individually-wrapped cakes the she brought back from she hometown. She ring the doorbell, and when Mrs. Sato opens the door, she is surprised when Mrs. Takahashi hand her the box of cakes. “Sumimasen,” Mrs. Sato says.

Huh? Why would she to speak “I’m sorry” instead of saying something favor “Arigatou gozaimasu” (Thank you)? This is since Sumimasen is likewise a humble way of expressing gratitude in part contexts. Sumimasen in this case is prefer expressing apology in a way. After all, Mrs. Takahashi walk go through the trouble to purchase the cakes and also bring castle over. What a burden it must have actually been on her, right? However, it’s much less an overt apology and method something an ext along the lines of “Thank you for doing this for me regardless of the inconvenience.”

Scenario 2:

You’re sitting on the train, and you arrive at a stop. A woman sitting next to you gets up to gain off, and you notice that she left her phone on her seat. You spring up, take the phone, and rush out the door to catch up v her. “Sumimasen,” you say. The woman turns and also sees the you have her phone. Friend hand it to her. “Sumimasen,” she replies as she put it ago into her pocket.

Wait, what? girlfriend both supplied the specific same word, and it expected two various things? In this situation, the woman is both humbly expressing her many thanks while at the exact same time acknowledging the inconvenience it might have led to you to acquire up and also chase she down.

Scenario 3:

You’re approaching the door to a building, and you an alert there room a variety of people behind you who additionally want to go inside. You, being the kind and considerate human being that you are, open up the door and also hold it open up for them together they to walk in. “Sumimasen,” the civilization say as they pass you by.

Why space they saying, “Sumimasen?” I’ll allow you figure it the end by interpreting the context for yourself.

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In short, the major takeaway native this is that sumimasen can mean “Excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” and it’s likewise a humble and polite way of saying “Thank you” once someone goes out of their means to aid you.Now, some of you out there might be wondering about “Gomen nasai” (ごめんなさい).

Is it okay to use gomen nasai—another word because that “I’m sorry”—in these situations to likewise mean “Thank you?” when gomen nasai and sumimasen have comparable meanings, the doesn’t work in this case. Gomen nasai isn’t as formal as sumimasen, and also it’s much more commonly offered to typical the literal meaning “I’m sorry” fairly than noþeles else. In the Mrs. Sato situation, she receiving the gift and saying “Gomen nasai” would sound strange. In scenario 2, however, where the waiter spilled her water, if he stated “Gomen nasai” instead of “Sumimasen” that would be okay since he’s apologizing—often times world will speak both.