ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました: Which to Use? 1

You might have heard ありがとうございます and ありがとうございました in similar situations and wondered what the difference between them is and which is correct to use.


I’ll give you a very simple answer.
Actually, either is fine in most cases!
Yaaay!! Great news, huh?😆

So, what’s the difference?
Let’s start with the simplest one.

1) ありがとう。

This is the casual form of ありがとうございます or ありがとうございました, and is used with friends or family.
It has no tense-specifier, so you can use it either for ongoing things or those in the past.
Unlike “thanks” in English, however, ありがとう is not used before your request is accepted or someone starts doing what you want to thank them for.
At the end of your request, before getting an answer, you should say “よろしくお願いします” instead.
(See my previous post for a more detailed explanation.)

OK, next are formal, polite ones!

2) ありがとうございました。

ありがとうございました is in the past tense, so you can only use it after someone has done something for you, or when they’re almost done.
ありがとう is usually used when someone has done you a favour, so this should be the most common way to say this phrase, but maybe you’ve heard ありがとうございます more often in the same kind of situations.


Let’s talk about it in the next post since this one seems to be getting too long.

Stay tuned! 😉

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