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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!