What Is The Real Meaning Of Ganbatte?

Mar 14, 2024Shopify API

Have you heard the word Ganbatte? Wondering what is the real meaning of Ganbatte? Do you know how to say good luck in Japanese? Ganbatte (頑張って) is a very popular word and used in many ways to help encourage someone.

The phrase "Ganbatte," often heard in the hallways of schools, offices, and sports fields across Japan, carries a depth of meaning beyond its common translation of "good luck."

This expression of encouragement and perseverance is deeply embedded in Japanese culture.

Let's unravel the layers of significance behind "Ganbatte."

What Is The Real Meaning Of Ganbatte

Ganbatte: Meaning and Terminology

The term Ganbatte is actually the  conjunctive form of the verb ‘ganbaru’ which consists of two characters 頑 (gan) meaning stubborn or tough and 張る (haru) meaning to be prominent. 

When you combine both the characters together, they make up the concept of working hard or unrelentingly striving to achieve a particular goal.

If you find yourself in a situation that requires  encouragement and support, use the term Ganbatte which can literally mean any of the following expressions: good luck, hang in there, do not give up, do your best, keep going, do your best,go ahead, hold on, keep focus, and so on.

In contrast to the more emphatic sounding ganbare, ganbatte is a simple way of encouraging someone, and wishing them to do their best. In situations which require you to be polite, you can use kudasai after ganbatte or you might come across as a little rude accidentally.

It is believed that Ganbatte has been used since the Edo period, which originated from the expression ‘look forward, move on.’

The term Ganbatte can be written in kanji as 頑張って、 in katakana as ガンバッテ or in hiragana as がんばって. For more emphasis about overcoming the task at hand it may also be said as “ganbatte ne”( 頑張ってね) or “ganbatte yo” (頑張ってよ). This word is used to encourage people to strive for something they are doing, whether at work or school and other things. 

Saying ganbatte will motivate or encourage a person. You must be wondering how you can use it in a sentence? Always remember that the Japanese language is defined by the context of the conversation, the reason why all these ideograms and words have so many translations. 

A few examples of using Ganbatte include:


Daijobu-yo. Ganbatte!

You’ll be fine. Good luck!


Testo, ganbatte!

Good luck on your test!


Aserazuni ganbatte ne

Stay calm and do your best!

Different Ways to Use Ganbatte

Depending on the situation or person, ganbatte can be used  in a number of different ways, each calling on the central theme of persevering and trying your best. 

Ganbareru (頑張れる) and Ganbaremasu (頑張れます)  meaning ‘I can do my best’ or ‘I am able to do my best.’

Saying either of these phrases both signify a person;s willingness to complete the task at hand by working through the obstacles.

Ganbare (頑張れ)  and Ganbari nasai (頑張りなさい) meaning ‘Do your best’

This is more  of a command than a form of encouragement. So, you won't use it for a superior at work, rather use it to motivate an equal peer or to someone a subordinate at the workplace.

Ganbatta (頑張った) and Ganbarimashita (頑張りました) meaning  ‘I did my best’

After completing a difficult task, a person can use ganbatta to say they did their best. You can use ganbarimashita for a more formal and polite tone.

Ganbatte Kudasai (頑張ってください) meaning ‘Please do the best you can’ or  ‘Please do your best’

This may be more suitable for business settings as it is a formal or polite way to tell somebody to do their best. The addition of the term kudasai means please  and is a form of request.

Ganbatte iru (頑張って いる) and  Ganbatte imasu (頑張っています) meaning ‘I am doing the best’ 

The phrase can be used by a person to state that he/she  is currently doing their best to overcome any problems and difficulties. The phrase ‘Ganbatte imasu’ is a politer version.

Ganbaritai (頑張りたい)  meaning ‘I want to do the best’

This is used when someone  is having doubts about whether or not they will do their best in a particular situation. It implies that they want to do their best but may not be able to because of certain circumstances.

Ganbatte ita (頑張っていた) and Ganbatte imashita (頑張って いました) meaning  ‘I was doing the best’

This is used to  describe doing one’s best in the past to reflect on a difficult task or past struggle and confirm that they did do their best.. Ganbatte imashita is a formal version.

Ganbaranakatta (頑張らなかった) meaning  ‘I was not able to do the best’

This is a  humble way of taking responsibility for one’s own failure, without blaming any other person or other circumstances.

Ganbarimasu (頑張ります) meaning  ‘I will do my best’

It can be directed to oneself and is often used as a reply or acknowledgment  to ganbatte.

Cultural Background & Japanese Community

Ganbatte and all its many variations is a word dearly loved by the Japanese community. This is simply because its essence revolves around the concept not to give up no matter how difficult a situation may be. 

Did you know from a young age the children in Japan are exposed to the concept of ganbatte? From doing homework to falling down to failing friendships to eating habits, this concept is ingrained in almost every individual. 

As you get older the term is used as a form of encouragement. Some situations include writing an exam, breaking off a relationship or participating in a championship. 

As an adult, ganbatte is used when you get sick or attend a job interview or while attending meetings and other social gatherings.

Ganbatte  serves as an effective form of encouragement, and used in great times of hardship. It  reminds each of us that the true obstacle lies in trusting our own abilities. 

For the Japanese, ganbatte is indeed a way of life, no matter what kind of challenges you may be facing.

Despite the versatility of ganbatte, there are some situations where it is not appropriate to use the term. 

When someone is facing genuine trouble, read the room, think because people could end up feeling patronized or even offended by the use of ganbatte. 

For example, a friend has had something tragic happen to them or their family or someone struggling with depression or spouse whose husband has left her for a friend is expressing a deep level of sadness or worry. 

In such circumstances, using Ganbatte may feel like twisting a knife in the open wound.

Ganbatte Meaning: FAQs

What are some of the equivalent terms and expressions of “Ganbatte” outside of Japan?

Outside of Japan, there are many other terms and expressions that mean the same as ganbatte. In America, they say Come on or You can do it. It is similar to the idiom, ‘break a leg’ which is often used to tell someone to give it their best shot.

In Korea, the words Paiting or Hwaitng or Aja aja which mean keep going are used to tell a person to let go of his doubts and find some strength within himself. Jiayou is another expression used in China to encourage people to not give up and to be

What are some of the equivalent terms and expressions of Ganbatte in Japan?

-Besides the term ‘ganbatte,’ there are also other words of encouragement used in Japan. Faito (ファイト) means fight in English but is common in Japan and means ‘More power to you’ and used to encourage t close friends or family to overcome whatever it is they are struggling with.

Oen shite iru (応援している) or Oen shite imasu ( 応援しています) means I am here to support or cheer for you can also be used.

Genki dashite (元気出して) means keep your chin up and used to encourage someone to keep one’s spirits up and remain cheerful.


As mentioned earlier, you can start using this expression to encourage and help people to achieve their goals. To end the article, what stands to be the most interesting and serves to be the best representation of the Japanese spirit is this term Ganbatte. 

On its own, it serves as a reminder to keep going until our goal is reached. Keep in mind it can also be said as a response or to imply a clearer sense of determination.

Okay, so now that you have officially got a full rundown of all the great ways to wish someone good luck in Japanese, you can know exactly what to do. Good luck!

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