It’s most often the case that those in positions of authority praise their subordinates, however, there are times when friends praise each other. In both cases, it’s best not to exaggerate. If someone’s good at something like singing or sports, phrases such as “sugoi” (great), “umai” (splendid), and “yarune” (way to go) are used. For clothes and personal belongings, phrases such as “ii” (good), “suteki” (cool), “niau” (it suits you), “oshare” (fashionable), and “kirei” (beautiful) are used. “Nice” is also used. In English, this gives the impression of faint praise. If you add “ne,” “yo,” “da ne,” or “ja nai” (as long as it is with raised intonation at the end and not in a negative statement) to the end of a sentence, it creates a friendlier impression. Japanese people try not to take a statement at its face value, but to grasp its implied message. Because of this, even if the praise you’re receiving is justified, instead of replying “arigatou” (thank you), some people say the following: “Zenzen” (that’s not the case at all), “iyaiya” (no no), “sonnakoto nai yo” (it’s not true), “iie, madamada” (no, not yet), and so forth. Furthermore, some people add “kantan dayo” (it’s not difficult), “moraimono nanda” (this was a present), and “se-ru de katta no” (I bought it in a sale). The intention behind these phrases is to show that “I know that there are better able people out there, or there are better quality items.” This style of speech is used to create a humble impression. Standard polite conversation / Casual expressions You are very good at tennis. No, I’m not that good. Your tennis outfit is also fashionable. No, not at all. This was just a present.
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