The Most Useful Japanese Word, "Doumo". : When and How You Should Use.

Mar 17, 2001 (Updated Mar 18, 2001)

The Bottom Line The most useful Japanese word, "Doumo". Learn the basics, and make your stay in Japan more comfortable.

These days, more and more Japanese words are getting common in the US. Some examples are Sushi, Sashimi, and Tofu. (Well, Tofu is originally Chinese.) Other examples used for verbal communication are : Konnichiwa (Hello, or, Good afternoon), Arigato, (Thank you), and Sayonara (Good bye). These words for communication definitely make the human relationship smoother, but they are situation-specific. You cannot use Konnichiwa to mean good-bye.

In this opinion, let me introduce the very popular Japanese word that you can use for almost all the situations. The word is "Doumo". It's pronounced as "D'ou-mo" with the accent on "D".

What does "DOUMO" mean?
Probably, if you have studied Japanese, this word should be on your vocabulary. And the textbook usually says this word is for strengthening the word coming after. In other words, the textbook use this word something like "very" in English. So, "Doumo arigato" means "Thank you VERY MUCH".

Nevertheless, in the colloquial sense, the scope of "doumo" is not limited within the adverb. "Doumo" is used as one sentence very frequently, and means something which makes the communication smoother. In other words, the listeners interpret this word as whatever meaning they can guess with generosity.

How can I use this word?
"Doumo" is the super helper for the better communication. The word itself means almost nothing. But this word is self-completing. Thus you can use this word almost for any situation. If you don't know either what to say, or how to reply, just say "Doumo". Your listener interprets in the nice way in his sense.

When can I use "Doumo"?
Anytime you like. As it goes on the textbook, if used as an adverb, this word makes the sentence very polite. If you want to be polite, you should use this word often.

The true advantage of "Doumo" comes when used as a sentence. It can be replaced anything from "hello", "good morning", and "good night", to "thank you", "excuse me" and "sorry". Whenever you want to express your feelings or greetings, you can just say, "Doumo".

Is there anything I should be careful?
You have to be careful is the following: Since "doumo" is very ambiguous word that falls anywhere in between the agreement and the disagreement, you are giving up (or postponing) your precise decision by using this word as a sentence. So, under the situation you got some offers from somebody, you are basically saying, "Thank you very much. I take it."

Also, note that you are not encouraged to use "Doumo" as a sentence to your boss. "Doumo" is not impolite word, but not extremely polite either.

Of course, as long as you use this word as an adverb like on the textbook, you are encouraged to use this word a lot. Sorry, it is a little confusing. But this works as a spice for making the communication interesting. Don't you think?

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