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? 2

This is a sequel to the previous entry, where we talked about two ways of saying “thank you” in Japanese.
Here comes the last and most common one!

3) ありがとうございます。

This is in the present tense, but you can use it either for ongoing matters, things that are almost done, or those in the past.

Yes, you can use both ありがとうございました (the past tense) and ありがとうございます (the present tense) for things in the past!

Either is fine. I don’t feel any big difference in terms of the level of gratitude.
It’s just a small difference of how you feel about the event you are thankful for.


Connotation: “It’s great the event is (almost) done, and I thank you for the whole effort you made for that.”

ありがとうございます (for a past event)

Connotation 1: “Though the event is done, I’m still feeling intensely grateful for it.”

Connotation 2: “Though the event is done, I hope our great relationship will continue.”
(Especially when there will be another related event coming afterwards.)

Connotation 3: “Thank you as always!”
(The listener often helps the speaker, so receiving a favour from him/her doesn’t seem like a “past event” for the speaker.)

Please note: Not really suitable for something done a long time ago.


M: Daisuke, could you help me with my homework?
D: No problem, Mao!
M: ありがとうございます!(for accepting her request.)

Situation 1:
D: We’ve done! Yay!
M: Yeah!
ありがとうございました。(for his help today.)
ありがとうございます。(for his help as usual.)

Situation 2:
D: OK… We’ve almost done, but this is a really tough one…
I think it will take time, so why don’t we do the rest tomorrow?
M: Sounds good.
ありがとうございました。(for his help today.)
ありがとうございます。(for his continuous help.)

If you want to say “thank you very much“, add どうも at the beginning.

Leave a Comment: