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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What is the meaning of the word DOMO?
You probably know that ‘Domo’ can be used as a casual phrase to say “Thanks.”
However, the phrase ‘domo’ can also be used to mean “hi," “hey,” or “Sorry” depending on the context.
How can one phrase have so many different meanings?
It’s because ‘domo’ is originally an adverb which emphasises the following part. ‘Domo” can attach to ‘Arigato’ and emphasise your appreciation -- “Domo arigato”, or Thank you very much. Another one is ‘Domo sumimasen’ meaning “Sorry.”
So when you just hear ‘Domo’ by itself, it’s often because the second part of the phrase was dropped. Please note that for this reason, ‘domo’ can sound a little bit rude. It’s better to use the whole phrase, such as ‘Domo arigato.’ or “domo sumimasen” when you really want to express your appreciation or apology.
It is especially rude to use ‘domo’ to mean “I’m sorry.’ I’d recommend you avoid it. Say ‘Domo sumimasen.’ instead.
So, what do you say when you take seated but on the wrong one in the cinema, and someone said “You’re sitting on my seat.”? You’d say ‘Domo sumimasen.’ and move down. ‘Domo sumimasen’ is commonly used when your mistake is not a big deal.
Another common use of 'Domo' is as a casual “Hi” or “Hey”. It’s more casual than ‘Kon'nichiwa’. Men tend to say it twice, ‘A, domo domo!’ Please note that you can use this ‘domo’ in the office but not to your boss and clients.
So, when you see your neighbour and he says “Hello” to you, and you want to say “Hi.”  You’d say….”A, domo.”
I hope this makes sense to you and you’re able to use "domo” more from now on!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 11th, 2015 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 17th, 2018 at 02:32 PM
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Hello Brian,

Thank you for your question.

You can check various scenarios on how to behave/talk in these video series:



In addition, if you search the keyword 'formal' in our search bar, you'll find lessons related to the formality levels and their explanation:


We hope it helps!



Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 17th, 2018 at 01:40 PM
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I'm sorry for the late reply!!

And thank you for the suggestion! I'll share your post with my colleagues and discuss about it

as possibilities for future lessons! ;)

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

October 18th, 2017 at 10:40 AM
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Could you make a video talking about different statuses for people? For example, at the end of this video, you raised the question:

"If you neighbor greeted you, how would you reply? Domo, or a more formal phrase?"

The issue here is that I wasn't sure, because it could be either. In different parts of the world, different people hold different "statuses". Even in different parts of the US, the way people act towards their neighbor or a store clerk varies very differently. So here in Texas, if we spoke Japanese, I'd imagine just using "domo" would be a little crass, and like you said, situationally rude. However, up in the northern states, people are not quite as social and the way they would greet their neighbor would be much less formally. Do you think you could give a run-down on what types of situations would call for more formal words? Thanks :)

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 13th, 2017 at 11:06 AM
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Annaliese san,


Yes, you can say them. They are less polite though.

Lincoln Fontenele san,


Yes, that is long so it shows high politeness level.


Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

Lincoln Fontenele
January 27th, 2017 at 06:28 AM
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Can i say: "doumo arigatou gozaimasu" ?

December 9th, 2016 at 12:38 PM
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I wonder...Could you leave out "domo" and just say "sumimasen" or "arigatou"?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 29th, 2016 at 07:31 AM
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Kristaps san,


That is ‘bizinesu paatonaa.’ :smile:

Yuki 由紀


August 15th, 2016 at 07:39 PM
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Konnichiwa everyone san,

How should I say to business partners?



JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 25th, 2016 at 04:45 PM
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Christian さん、

Konnichiwa. :smile:

We have a rule ‘the longer is the politer.’

Arigatou (low politeness level)

Doumo arigatou

Ariatou gozaimasu

Doumo arigatou gozaimasu (high politeness level)

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

July 14th, 2016 at 10:13 PM
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I wonder if you would clear up a point of confusion.

I understand (from the video) that "Domo arigatou" is a more formal form of "Thank you" i.e. "Thank you very much, but I have also seen that "Arigatou Gosaimasu" is also a formal "Thank you very much" is this correct?

What is the differences between these two phrases?