How to Use Ganbare, Ganbatte, Ganbarimasu in Japanese: Give It Your Best!

Ganbare (頑張れ) or ganbatte (頑張って) is a Japanese phrase that means “Come on!” “Let’s go!” or “Go for it!” in English. It means “Do your best,” and it can be used to cheer for your favorite team during a sporting event.

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If you want to know more about using ganbatte and ganbare in Japanese, watch the Youtube video we posted above.

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The Spirit of Ganbare or Ganbatte in Japanese Culture

Although a seemingly simple term, ganbare, ganbatte, or their other modifications have roots in Japanese culture and a view on perseverance and determination. You’ll hear it chanted in sports competitions and anime series, mostly to encourage the other party to do their best and never give up, no matter how hard the challenge.

Saying ganbare or ganbatte isn’t just preserved for special occasions, though. From a young age, Japanese people are exposed to ganbatte through various mundane activities: doing homework, studying for a test, or fighting with friends.

The word ganbare is ingrained in almost every stage of life in the Japanese community. As you grow old, you’ll face even greater problems, like finding a job, overcoming a hard breakup, or confronting a problem at work. In the end, the spirit of ganbatte reminds individuals in Japan that even in times of great hardship, you need to trust your ability.

Japanese Kanji and Writing for Ganbare or Ganbatte

The Japanese word for ganbatte originated from the verb 頑張る (read as ganbaru), which means “to do your best” or “to work hard.” However, in many social contexts, people tend to follow the first definition more. The Japanese kanji 頑 (gan) means “tough” or “stubborn”, while the last character 張る (haru) means “to be prominent”.

How did it turn to ganbare or ganbatte? The term ganbatte (頑張って) is the conjunctive form of 頑張る. Ganbatte is the shortened form of てください, which is to turn a plain Japanese verb into a polite command or request: “I would ask you to (verb).”

The longer version of ganbatte is ganbatte kudasai (頑張ってください), but this might sound a bit too formal if you’re speaking to your friends or close family members. This is why sometimes people just opt to say “ganbatte”. It can be written in kanji as 頑張って, in hiragana as がんばって, or in katakana as ガンバッテ.

You might wonder: ganbatte is not a loanword that the Japanese language takes, so why can we use katakana? This is because katakana is used to emphasize things, especially on signs, advertisements, or texts. Examples are gomi (ゴミ) and megane (メガネ), each meaning trash and glasses, respectively. When you type ガンバッテ, it shows you want the reader to pay attention to your words of encouragement.

It may also be said as “ganbatte ne”( 頑張ってね) or “ganbatte yo” (頑張ってよ) for more emphasis on overcoming the task at hand.

You can also add ね or よ for more emphasis.

Ganbatte ne!

Ganbatte yo!

Ganbare (がんばれ), on the other hand, is stemmed from the same verb, but it’s in a command form. The verb conjugation changes action in strong commands, and it’s less polite than saying ganbatte kudasai (がんばってください),

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The Best Time to Use Ganbare or Ganbatte

Ganbare has a positive connotation; you need to use it with empathy and without being flippant or joking, which could be seen as insensitive.

  • A coworker or friend is taking an exam or a test
  • A friend is playing in a sporting match or running a marathon
  • A friend will do something difficult, like asking someone to marry them.
  • A friend has expressed a worry about a big event or challenge that they have coming up.

Inappropriate Situations to Use Gabare or Ganbatte

Despite the versatility of ganbare and ganbatte, there are some situations where it’s far from appropriate to use them. Sometimes, the best thing to do is face your vulnerability. When someone is facing genuine trouble, read the room and show empathy. Saying, “Let’s do our best!” to someone having a hard time can instead make us sound tone-deaf and insensitive.

Here are a couple of situations where saying ganbare or ganbatte is not advisable.

  • A friend has had something tragic happen to them or their family
  • A friend is expressing a deep level of sadness or worry

Video Transcript

Ganbare! Ganbare!
Ganbare! Ganbare!

Minasan, “ganbare” koto kotoba kiita no koto ga arimasuka?
Hi everyone, have you heard the word “ganbare” before?

“ganbare” wa shiai geteiru to ouensuru toki ni tsukau kotoba desu
When people are at a sporting match and they are supporting their team, they will use this word!

Tatoeba, yakyuu no shiai o yobini ikimasu suki na senshu ga deteimasu
For example, next time you go to a baseball game and your favorite player appears,

“ganbare! ganbare!”
You can scream “Ganbare! Ganbare!”

Ragubi ya sakka no Warudokapu orinpikku demo “ganbare ganbare” to ouensuru koto ga dekimasu.
You can use the word to support your team at the Rugby and Soccer World Cup, and the Olympics.

“ganbare” kono kotoba wa “ganbatte” ya “ganbatte kudasai” yori mo
The word “ganbare” is similar to “ganbatte” or “ganbatte kudasai.”

tsuyoi no kotoba desu.
But it has a stronger meaning.

Sukoshi, otokoppokute tsuyoi kotoba nano de shiai o ouensuru toki ni tsukaimasu.
It’s a very manly word that you can use to support your team during a sporting match.

Shiai wa waku waku doki doki shimasune, desukara onna no hito mo shiai no toki wa “ganbare” to itte mo idesu.
When you get excited during a football match or a baseball game and you want to support your team, women can also use “ganbare”.

“Ganbatte” kono kotoba wa iro iro na tsuchinoeshion de iro koto ga dekimasu.
“Ganbatte” is a word that can be used in many different types of situations.

Tatoeba, tomodachi ga koiimasu : “a, ashita shiken ga arunda.”
For example, when your friend tells you: “Ugh, I have an exam tomorrow.”

“Do your best!”

“a ashita kanojo ni puopozu surunda”
“I’m going to propose to my girlfriend tomorrow.”

“Do your best!”

“Ganbatte” wa casuaru no hyougen nanode kazoku ya koibito tomodachi ni tsukatte kudasai.
“Ganbatte” is a casual expression that you can use when talking to family and friends.

Saigo ni, mou hitotsu “ganbarimasu” o shoukai shimasu.
Finally, we have one more word to introduce: “ganbarimasu.”

“ganbarimasu” wa itsu tsukau no deshouka?
When should we use “ganbarimasu”?

Sourede wa setsumenshimasu.
Let’s break it down.

Jitsu wa atashi rainen no sangatsu ni toukyou maranson ni temasu.
I will really be running the Tokyo marathon next year in March.

Sono koto wo senpai ya hoka no sensei ni iyuto senpai ya hoka no sensei wa kouiimashita: “e~ sugoi ne. Ganbatte ne!”
So my coworkers, and other more senior teachers, told me: “oh wow, do your best (good luck)!”

Sono toki watashi wa kouiimasu: “arigaritou gozaimasu, ganbarimasu!”
At that time, I replied by saying: “Thank You so much, I will try my best!”

“Ganbarimasu” wa jibun yori ue no hito
“Ganbarimasu” is used when people that are above me,

tatoeba joushi ya senpaino hito ga ganbattene to
like my boss or my senior coworkers tell me to do my best.

ouen shitenatoki ni
When they show their support

“hai, ganbarimasu” to kotae masu.
I can answer them by saying: Yes, I will try my best!

Hai, minasan, kyou no bideo wa koko made desu.
Okay, everyone! That is all for today’s video.

Minasan wa nihongo no benkyou ganbatte imasune!
Everyone, you’re all doing your best to learn Japanese!

Minasan, ganbatte!
Everyone, do your best!

moshi shitsumon ga atta tara, zehi kono komento ni nokoshite kudasai. Watashitachi ga kotae rareru kamoshiremasen.
If you have any questions, please share them in the comment section. We might answer them!

Sorede wa minasan, ganbatte ne!
So then, everyone, go for it/do your best!

What is the difference between ganbatte and ganbaru?

Ganbare is a command form, which has a stronger imperative tone. Ganbatte is the shortened version of ganbatte kudasai, which is more or a request and therefore sounds less demanding.

What is the original word for ganbare and ganbatte?

Ganbare and ganbatte comes from the word ganbaru (頑張る) or ganbarimasu (頑張ります), which means “do your best”

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