The word 頑張って (ganbatte) is a common and useful word when speaking Japanese. It means “do your best” or “fight” as a form of encouragement.
While many learners of Japanese pick this word up early, no matter where you are in your journey, 頑張って is an excellent word to have in your toolbelt. In this article, we’ll break down how to use 頑張って and its different forms.
How to Use 頑張って (Ganbatte) in Japanese
As explained above, 頑張って is used as a form of encouragement or cheering on. Depending on the context, it can mean any of the following:
- Do your best!
- Good luck!
It is most often used on its own or with a noun explaining what the situation is. It can also be used with 下さい (kudasai), the word for “please.”
(shiken o ganbatte kudasai)
Please do your best on the exam!
Particles to Use With Ganbatte
When using 頑張って with a noun, either を (o) or で (de) is used as the participle. を is used when the noun is the focus of the effort.
(ashita no shiai o ganbatte)
Give it your all at tomorrow’s match!
In the above sentence, the focus of the effort is the “match,” so を is used.
On the other hand, when describing the context of the effort, such as a place or environment, で is used.
(isshukan no shucchou de ganbatte kudasai)
Please do your best on your one-week business trip.
In this example sentence, the effort will be made during the business trip towards an unmentioned goal, so で is used.
The Most Natural Way to Use 頑張って (Ganbatte)
In the above examples, we say which particles to use with 頑張って. However, using these particles (を or で) are almost never used when speaking Japanese. The majority of time, it is much more natural to not say a particle at all, even for polite phrases like 頑張ってください .
So if we take out the particles from the sentences above, we would get:
(ashita no shiai ganbatte!)
(Isshuukan no shucchou ganbatte kudasai)
These expressions without the particles sounds much more natural in spoken Japanese.
How to Use 頑張る (Ganbaru)
The explanation above was for the word 頑張って, arguably the most common form of the word. However, 頑張って itself is the te form of 頑張る (ganbaru). 頑張る is the dictionary form, or the standard form of the verb.
頑張る means to “work hard on something,” “to do one’s best” or “to give one’s all. Similarly to how 頑張って is used as a form of encouragement for others, 頑張る is often used as a declaration of intent.
(raibu no junbi o ganbaru)
I’ll do my best to prepare for the concert!
(ashita kara daietto o ganbaru!)
I’ll work hard trying to lose weight starting tomorrow!
In addition, 頑張る has the more polite masu form 頑張ります (ganbarimasu), which is used in more formal situations.
(kore kara mo shigoto o ganbarimasu)
I will continue to do my best at my work.
(Ima made douri eigo no benkyou o ganbarimasu.)
I will continue to study English as hard as I have been.
Beyond 頑張って and 頑張る, there are other forms of the verb that can be used for specific contexts. There is the form 頑張れ (ganbare). 頑張れ is the imperative or command form and is identical in meaning to 頑張って, but it is stronger in tone. It is often used in contexts such as sports events to cheer someone on.
(Yume ni mukatte ganbare!)
Work hard for your dreams!
Next is 頑張れる (ganbareru), which is the potential form. 頑張れる means “can do one’s best.”
(kimi ga iru to ore wa ganbareru)
As long as you’re here, I can do my best.
(Ashita kara yasumi dakara, sore o omoeba kono shigoto mo ganbareru yo.)
I’m starting my vacation tomorrow so if I think about it, I can do my best on this job.
There is also 頑張った (ganbatta). 頑張った is the past tense form of the verb, and while it means “did one’s best,” it’s often used as a form of congratulations for someone else.
(happyo-kai, yoku ganbatta ne)
You did well at the presentation meeting.
(Isshoukenmei ganbatta noni shiai ni makete shimatta.)
I did my best, but lost the game.
Lastly, we have the form 頑張りたい (ganbaritai). 頑張りたい means “to want to do one’s best.”
(purojekuto ga seikou suru you ni ganbaritai)
I want to do my best so that the project will be a success.
(Chiimu no yuushou ni kouken dekiru youni ganbaritai desu.)
I will do my best to contribute to our team’s victory.
With an understanding of the meaning and use of 頑張って, as well as the verb’s other forms, you can let others know your desire to give it your best and to cheer others on when they do the same. Good luck!