Anyone who has lived through 2020 knows that it’s sometimes hard to keep going.
Indeed, occasional feelings of pessimism and negativity are a universal across all cultures.
Because of this, it’s a good way to know how to encourage people when learning a new language.
Let’s take a look at five ways to say “don’t give up” in Japanese.
「諦めないで。」(akiremanaide) is the negative imperative form of 諦める (akirameru), the verb meaning “to give up.”
In other words you can say「諦めないで。」to say “don’t give up.”
To make it more polite, you can add ください (kudasai) on the end and say「諦めないでください。」 (akiramenaide kudasai).
This is the basic way of saying “don’t give up” in Japanese, and should be the expression you use unless circumstances warrant another option.
Here, the で of 諦めないで has been swapped out for 法 (hou), meaning “way.” This makes “don’t give up” just negative, rather than imperative.
The phrase as a whole, 諦めないほうがいい (akiramenai hou ga ii) means “it’s best if you don’t give up.”
The kanji for this version of “don’t give up” might make you do a double take.
No, you’re not seeing things.「諦めないで。」(akiremanaide) and「辞めないで。」(yamenaide) really are written in exactly the same way!
The difference is that this expression, is actually the negative imperative form of 辞める (yameru), a verb meaning to quit or stop doing a job or other official activity.
Both of these verbs use the same kanji, 辞, which means “quit” or “give up,” and both are conjugated the same way, with the same hiragana characters after the kanji no matter what tense or form they take.
Both verbs are pronounced differently, but unless you are in a situation where the expression is being spoken aloud or is written with furigana (small hiragana written above kanji to make reading easier) you may not be able to tell which is being used outside of context.
While 辞めないで in this context could also mean literally “don’t quit,” the implication is still of not giving up.
If the kanji in our first two expressions were confusing, here it’s the pronunciation that will trip you up.
The verb 辞める (yameru), our previous expression, and the verb 止める (yameru) in this one are both pronounced the same.
In fact, their meanings are also pretty similar. The main difference is that the kanji for 止める means to physically stop as well as to quit.
When written as「止めないで。」(yamenaide), this verb suggests not stopping or quitting an activity, rather than a job.
No matter which kanji you use, the meaning of these two expressions is more or less the same. You’re telling someone not to quit, or not to give up.
Just make sure that in writing you use the right kanji for each slightly different meaning.
Just like with the other yamenaide, even though this one technically means “don’t quit,” it can be used to encourage people in the same way as “don’t give up.”
4. 「我慢して！」 (gaman shite)
我慢 (gaman) is the Japanese noun meaning “perseverance,” “endurance” or “patience.”
You can pair it with the verb する (suru, “to do”) to get「我慢して。」(gaman shite), an expression similar in meaning to 「頑張れ。」 (ganbare, “good luck”).
The nuance of this expression is a little different, though. While 頑張れ implies going to the limit of your abilities and beyond with an upbeat attitude, 我慢して carries a somewhat reserved tone more in line with “hang in there” or “don’t give up.”
Think of it as the difference between telling someone “Good luck!” and telling them “You’ll get through this.”
Negativity aside, if you see someone struggling and want to sympathize with their plight while letting them know you think they can persevere instead of quitting,「我慢して。」is definitely an option to consider.
You could also say 「我慢しなければならない。」 (gaman shinakereba naranai) or, less formally, 「がまんしなきゃ。」 to mean “You have to perservere.”
5. 「ギブアップしないで。」 (gibu appu shinaide)
This one is a little silly, and not something you would use in most, if not all, cases.
If you’re up on your katakana, you might notice that ギブアップ (gibu appu) sounds an awful lot like “give up.”
Not to put too fine a point on things, but that’s because it is just “give up” written in katakana.
This expression is used in a casual setting to say that you are giving up on something, usually of relatively little importance.
You can pair it with する (suru), the verb for “to do,” to mean “to give up,” and from there add ないで (naide) to get「ギブアップしないで。」(gibu appu shinaide).
You’re not likely to hear someone say this very often, if at all. But if you’re looking for a kind of goofy way to say “don’t give up” in Japanese, you can give it a whirl.
The best way to say “don’t give up” in Japanese
In short, the best and most accurate way to tell someone not to give up is to say「諦めないで。」 (akiramenaide). In a more formal setting, you should add ください (kudasai) to the end for「諦めないでください。」(akiramenaide kudasai), a more polite expression.
Other ways you can encourage people not to give up are「辞めないで。」(yamenaide) if you are referring to not quitting a job or other official role and its homonym「止めないで。」(yamenaide) when you want to tell someone not to give up on some other activity.
You can also tell people to persevere by using the expression「我慢して！」(gaman shite).
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.