労る ( いたわる = itawaru ) Caring Expressions


:maggie-small: 「不器用だけど、あなたのことを思いながらこの鶴を折りました。」

= Bukiyou dakedo, anata no koto wo omoi nagara kono tsuru wo orimashita.

=“I am clumsy but I folded this paper crane thinking of you!”


今日は、皆さん!( = Konnichiwa minasan!) Hi everyone!

We recently received a request from J-san. He has been helping homeless people, and he wants to be able to sympathize without sounding patronizing. He wants to learn vocabulary that he can use to let them know he is thinking/caring about their problems. So I will try to make a lesson not just focusing on helping homeless people but also people in trouble around you. I’ll teach you some useful expressions that you can use when you want to show your concerns to people and to offer them help politely.

It might be a bit difficult, but as usual, please pick whatever information that you think is useful from this lesson!

First, let’s look at today’s verb.


労る/いたわる( = itawaru) We don’t always use kanji for this verb — just use hiragana.

漢字 ( = kanji ) : rou/itawaru /negirau (itawashii)

• 労働  ( = roudou) labor

• 労力  ( = rouryoku) labor


労る/いたわる ( = itawaru) to care about something (body/ health) or somebody (sick people, people in trouble, etc). / to treat someone with care / to be concerned about someone / to be considerate / to console

→Noun form 労り/いたわり ( = itawari)

体を労る  ( = karada wo itawaru)   to take care of one’s body/health.

Ex. 「お体を労って下さいね。

= Okarada wo itawatte kudasaine.

Please take care of yourself.


= Otoshiyori wo itawaru

to care about or for aged people

Ex. 彼(に)は労りの気持がない

= Kare (ni)wa itawari no kimochi ga nai.

He doesn’t have a feeling of caring.→He doesn’t care about others (who are in trouble).

Ex. 怪我をした足をって歩く 

= Kega wo shita ashi wo itawatte aruku.)

To walk caring about the injured leg. To favor the uninjured leg and not use the injured one.

Ex. 人は合って生きて行かなければなりません。

= Hito wa itawari atte ikite ikanakereba narimasen.

People have to live by caring for each other.

Gramatical note : 合う ( = au) each other

Ex.  助け合う ( = tasukeau) to help each other

:rrrr: synonym : 大切にする ( = taisetsu ni suru)  気遣う  ( = kizukau)  (check our ( = ki)  lesson!)  to care / to be concerned.

人を労る/いたわる ( = hito wo itawaru)

To treat people (people in general, sick people or people in trouble) with care or in a sympathetic way.

From the picture above:

:maggie-small: 「不器用だけど、あなたのことを思(想)いながらこの鶴を折りました。」

= Bukiyou dakedo, anata no koto wo omoi nagara kono tsuru wo orimashita.

“I am clumsy but I folded this paper crane thinking of you!”

:rrrr: •不器用( = bukiyou) clumsy, all thumbs

•〜だけど ( = dakedo ) although / …but * casual → *formal ですが   ( = desuga)

あなたのことを思い (or 想い)ながら ( = anata no koto wo omoinagara) while thinking of you

ながら( = nagarado something while doing something else

Ex. 食べながら電話をかける

= Tabe nagara denwa wo kakeru

 to call someone (dial) or talk on the phone while eating


= Kono tsuru wo orimashita.

(I )folded this paper crane.

:ii: Culture note:

折り紙  ( = origami) : Japanese traditional paper craft which you make by folding a piece of color paper. It usually use just one piece of square color paper without glue or cutting with scissors. Japanese small children learn this at kindergarten or elementary school.

The most common one is  折り鶴  ( = orizuru) folded-paper crane

Check this video. Yukari is super clumsy but she made one holding me. (And I ate it at the end. :-P


鶴 ( = tsuru) a crane is a symbol for long life.

→There is a saying


= Tsuru wa sennen kame wa mannen

Cranes live for 1,000 years and turtles live for 10,000 years.

So cranes are considered to be a symbol of good luck or long life.

1,000 paper cranes are called as 千羽鶴  ( = senba zuru).

People fold each paper-crane and pray for the recovery from a long lasting illness of their close friend or family and put all the 1,000 cranes together in the end and give it to the sick person. It is also considered to be a symbol of peace.


 :n: Caring Expressions:

Now going back to J-san’s email, how can we express our feeling of caring without sounding patronizing?

Sometimes just saying


= (Douka) Ganbatte kudasai.

Please hang in there!/Good luck!

is enough to show your sincere sympathetic feelings more than any other long sentences. (Adding どうか= douka)  makes the sentence sound stronger .)

For the more advanced students, there are also longer appropriate sentences for each situation like some of the below.

<Not to be too direct!>

One thing you want to remember here is that we tend to avoid direct expressions in Japanese.

For example, if you want to offer some help to a person in trouble, a dictionary definition would say :


= Watashi wa anata wo tasuketai desu

I want to help you.

Of course we do say this in certain cases but it is too direct and too dramatic for most situations.

So instead of saying this, you can say, for example,


= Oyaku ni tatetara ureshii desu.

“I would be happy if I can be helpful for you.”



= Ochikara ni naretara ureshii desu.

As many of you already know, we often avoid finishing a sentence in order to make it sound softer. The listener will finish the sentence in their mind.

Ex. 明日は忙しいのですが…

= Ashita wa isogashii no desu ga…

I am busy tomorrow (but)..

is sound softer than


= Ashita wa isogashii desu.

I am busy tomorrow.

 :qq: Be humble! 

Also we have to be humble.

Ex. 微力ながら〜 ( = biryoku nagara)  to offer help

= My ability is pretty poor but , I am powerless but…

Ex. お役には立ちませんが〜/立たないかもしれませんが〜

=Oyaku niwa tachimasen ga/tatanai kamo shiremasen ga

to offer something physical or intellectual.

I am helpless (useless) but…/I might be helpless but…

Ex. ささやかですが、

 = Sasayaka desuga..

to offer things/money

 = This is just a little but

Ex. 何も出来ませんが、

= Nanimo dekimasenga..

I can’t do anything but…

Note : Even if you don’t finish the sentence after ですが…. ( = desuga…) people would understand that you are willing to help them.

Here is a list of some useful & polite phrases that you can use to encourage people, help people, and offer help to people in trouble:

:i: 気配り表現   ( =  Kikubari hyougen) Caring expressions for people in troubles.

:grin: (This time I will just focus on polite expressions.)

:w: How to encourage people. 

励ます ( = hagemasu) : to encourage

励まし( =( hagemashi)   : encouragement


• 元気を出して下さい。

= Genki wo dashite kudasai.

Please cheer up! (for people who are depressed.)

• いろいろ大変かと思いますがどうか頑張って下さい。

= Iroiro taihen kato omoimasu ga douka ganbatte kudasai.

I know things are tough but please hang in there. (→You can avoid mentioning all the details.)


=Tsurai kotomo arukamo shiremasen ga douka ganbatte kudasai.

=You may encounter some difficulties but please hang in there.

Caring about their health is very common encouragement.

• お体(or (御)健康)に気をつけて下さい。

= Okarada (or (Go)Kenkou) ni ki wo tsukete kudasai.

Please take care of your body(or health).

• あまり無理はしないで下さいね。

=Amari muri wa shinai de kudasai.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. / Don’t work so hard. / Don’t do too much.

<If it is in winter…>

• 風邪ひかない様に気をつけて下さい。

= Kaze hikanai you ni ki wo tsukete kudasai.

=Please be careful not to catch a cold.

• 寒いですがどうか気をつけてください。

= Samui desu ga douka kiwo tsukete kudasai.

It is cold (or It has been cold) but please take care of yourself.

 :w: Special cases: 

* to a sick person 

• くれぐれもお大事にして下さい。

= Kureguremo odaiji ni shite kudasai.

Please take good care of yourself.

• 早く治して下さい。

= Hayaku naoshit ekudasai.

=  Get well soon!

* to someone who has just lost a close family member:

• 御愁傷様です。

= Goshuushou sama desu.

=  My condolences.


= Douka oki otoshi no nai you ni.

The direct translation “Don’t be too depressed!” /”Don’t be so discouraged.” may not sound appropriate but we use this to encourage them.

*Addressing to a person who is really sick or has lost their house because of some disaster, you can say or write,


= Kokoro yori omimai moushiagemasu.  

Please accept my sincere sympathy for you.

(This is very formal. You will see in written form or in some speeches.)

* to someone who has failed their examinations:

• 本当に残念ですね。また次回がんばって下さい。

= Hontou ni zannenn desu ne. Mata jikai ganbatte kudasai.

=It is too bad. But good luck on the next one!

:!: Simply to show your sympathy to people who went through a hard time you can say :


= Iroiro taihen deshitane.

=I am aware that) you have been through a difficult time.

 :tulip2: How to offer help:

• 私に何か出来ることありませんか?

= Watashi ni nani ka dekiru koto wa arimasen ka?

Is there anything that I can do (for you)?

• 私に出来ることあれば(何でも)言って下さい。

= Watashi ni dekiru koto ga areba (nandemo) itte kudasai.

Please tell me anything that I can do.

• お力になれたら嬉しいです。

= Ochikara ni naretara ureshii desu.

I will be very happy if I can be of any help to you.

• 私に出来ることは限られていますが何かお役に立てることがあれば言って下さい。

= Watashi ni dekiru koto wa kagirarete imasu ga nani ka oyaku ni tateru koto ga areba itte kudasai.

=I know what I can do is very limited but please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you.

• 何もお役に立てないかもしれませんが何かあったら言って下さい。

= Nanimo oyaku ni tatenai kamo shiremasen ga nanika atttara itte kudasai.

I’m not sure there is anything I can do, but if there is please let me know.

!flowerssss! How to offer something:

Again you have to be modest!

•  (これ)わずかですが何かのお役に立てば嬉しいです(for offering money or things)

= (Kore) wazuka desuga nanika no oyaku ni tateba ureshii desu.

This is so little (that I can offer) but hope it can be useful for something. (usually for offering money)

• この位のことしか出来ませんがどうか使って下さい。(for offering money or things.)

= Kore kurai (or kono gurai) no koto shika dekimasen ga douka tsukatte kudasai.

This is as much as I can do but please use this.

• せめてこの位はさせて下さい。(when offering things or physical labor or work .)

= Semete kono kurai wa sasete kudasai.

Please let me at least do this.

• 差し出がましいとは思いますが是非受け取って下さい。(for offering money or things.)

= Sashidegamashii towa omoimasu ga zehi uketotte kudasai.

It could be uncalled for but please use this.

これよかったらどうぞ使って下さい。(for offering things. Could be used for money but a it’s a bit direct.)

= Kore yokattara tsukatte kudasai.

Please use this if you like.

少しでも力になれれば (or お役にたてれば)嬉しいです。(General)

= Sukoshi demo chikarani narereba (or oyaku ni tatereba) ureshii desu.

I will be very happy if I can be of even a little service.

 !star! Grammatical Note: 

I used a lot of 〜下さい。 ( = kudasai)   ending in the above example sentences but you will see/hear 下さい( =kudasai ne)  often in daily conversation.

Ex. 体に気をつけて下さい。

= Karada ni ki wo tsukete kudasai. 

= Please take care of yourself.


= Karada ni ki wo tsukete kudasai ne. 

Please take care of yourself ,OK?

Women prefer to use this ending but men can use this ending as well. It makes the sentence sound softer or sweeter.

frenchbulldogマギー先生より  = Maggie sensei yori =  From Maggie-sensei


= Mawari ni komatte iru hito ga itara jibun no dekiru koto kara nanika yatte ageru to iito omou no.

If you see someone in trouble, I think we should start with something that you can do.


= Minasan no shiawase wo inotte imasu. 

I pray for your happiness.



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  1. Hi Maggie-sensei!

    This lesson was really helpful!
    I recently started a Twitter account and started a project involving some translating (with a couple other international users) and we’ve received a few offers of help from friendly Japanese users. 🙇‍♀️
    I was wondering, in the case that people do offer you help and say things like 力になれたら嬉しいです!, what would be a good way to respond? 今までは「ありがとうございます」とか「嬉しいです」とか言ったことあるんですが。How might I say “Any help would be greatly appreciated” or “Just your reaching out/support/willingness is a great help to me” Or maybe “Your feelings of support really reached me?” 

    1. Hi b,
      OK, I will give you a couple of phrases.
      When you accept the offer or help, you add よろしくお願いします。


    2. Sorry, I forgot to add this in my comment earlier! I was actually also wondering how I might thank someone for looking out for me or showing care (like お心遣いありがとうございます ), but in a slightly more casual setting. :)

    1. They are both “labor” in English, huh…Let’s see the difference in the following examples.

      労働 = labor, job, work, tasks
      労働者 = workers
      労働時間 = working hours

      労力 labor, the work force, how much you work
      この仕事には時間と労力が必要だ= This job requires time and efforts.
      労力の不足 = shortage of labor

  2. Maggie sensei, I really love your lessons they helped me learning Japanese in more fun ways better than my grammar books and Japanese classes.

    Anyway, could you please explain about the differences between 「気をつけて」and 「注意して」?? Normally if I want to say please be careful on the way I used 「気をつけて」、but what about 「途中で注意して下さい」?

    Thank you 😊

    1. Hi Riou,
      I am happy to hear you like my lessons.

      気をつけて/注意して They both mean “carefully” in English and they could be interchangeable
      You tell someone who is careless and keep making mistakes,

      The diference

      注意してV  paying attentions, with attention
      気をつけてV  taking care of, being careful

      You say to someone “to take care of oneself”

      気をつけてね= Take care! / Take care of yourself.
      You never say 注意してね

      You also use 注意する when you warn someone.

  3. Hello Maggie-sensei!

    How do you express sympathy and well wishes for someone who has an ill relative through written text?

    Would *親戚*が早くよくなられるように祈っています work?

    Thank you!

    1. @Peachie

      Hi Peachie,

      親戚 → ご親戚の方(ごしんせきのかた)is better.

      You can also say

  4. Hi Maggie sensei !greenapple!  .
    I would like to ask you the differences in usage and nuances between を通して and を通じて.
    Thank you so much for your time and patience.

  5. Good morning Maggie sensei. I have a question about what’s the difference between いろいろ
    and さまざま because in the dictionary both can be translated as “various”. Thanks in advance.

    1. @Joshua and Diana

      Good morning, Joshua and Diana

      いろいろ vs さまざま
      を通して vs を通じて
      They mean the same.
      さまざま and を通じて are more literal (formal) than いろいろ・を通して

  6. hello maggie sensei :w:
    in this sentence: いろいろ大変かと思いますがどうか頑張って下さい
    why did you say ka to omoimasu? can’t I use da to omoimasu?

    thank you !CHECKHEART!

    1. @Roro

      You can say 大変だと思いますが、…as well.

      You usually use か when you assume something. But it also make your quote more polite.

      →お元気かと思います (You are less certain/ assuming)

      →こちらのお部屋の方が静かかと思います。(You are less certain/ assuming)

  7. Hi Maggie sensei! I have a friend lives in Japan, and she sent me an email the other day saying
    Sarah にまた会いたいです.’
    Why did she use のが after 会う?
    And why did she use に after my name? I thought に was only for location and time?

    1. @Sarah

      Hi Sarah
      1) の is used for nominalization (to turn a verb into a noun)
      会うの=会うこと= seeing

      Ex. 私は食べることが好きです。
      = I like eating.
      = 私は食べるのが好きです。
      = I like eating.

      2) に also has a function as an object marker.
      (It indicates the person/thing an action is directed at)

      Ex. Sarahに手紙を書く。
      = Sarah ni tegami wo kaku.
      = To write a letter to Sarah.
      Ex. Sarahに電話をかける。
      = Sarah ni denwa wo kakeru.
      = To call Sarah.

    1. @murdiyanto

      I wouldn’t say “goshuusama no koto de gozaimasu”
      If you want a polite form for “goshuusama deshtia”, you say “(誠に)ご愁傷様でございます。(makoto ni) goshuushousama de gozaimasu”

  8. Sensei, a couple of questions :)

    1) いろいろ大変かと思いますがどうか頑張って下さい。
    I know things are tough but please hang in there.

    Sensei showed me about “ka” for subordinated clauses. I have the feeling that “ka” in here has that purpose but I am not sure how to think about this sentence in a literal perspective. The one I have is this one”

    “I am thinking that “Maybe there are a lot of hardships?” but please somehow do your best.”

    Is this ok?

    2) 私に何か出来ることありませんか?

    Is there anything that I can do (for you)?

    I am trying to get a natural feel for the particle “ni” as sometimes it seems to convey the feeling “by” and “to”.

    a) Sensei, I know Japanese omits parts of sentences, but if we were to add to this sentence the part “you”, how would the sentence be?

    b) Is it ok to add a “ga” after “koto” in the sentence?

    1. @NecroMadMat

      1) Yes, your interpretation is right.
      I assume “Maybe there are a lot of hardships” but hang in there.

      2) Almost! 私に何かできること”は”ありませんか? You got に right!
      I think I answered your question b).

      a) If you want to add “you” it will be

      1. 1) Sensei I understand that using “ka” as a way to show assumption is like expressing a question to oneself but at the same time sharing it with the person in conversation. I find that interesting. :) It’s kind of different to Spanish and English but conveys the same message. :)


        a) Oh, I get it. Since we are kind of bringing the intention to help, out of the blue, we kind of need to “introduce” the idea with “wa”. At least that is how I understand it. XD

        b) I have seen that sentence patter before. :) It all makes perfect sense now. Thank you sensei. :)

        1. @NecroMadMat

          You are very welcome!
          1) Sometimes just one letter could change the whole meaning of the sentence in Japanese. Therefore “か” can be a very powerful letter!!
          We will learn how to use it little by little, OK?

          1. Yes sensei. :) Little by little. :) I actually am taking that approach to learning Japanese. XD I am studying little by little without torturing my head with a lot of information, but studying everyday steadily. XD

  9. マギー先生、






    1. @Cygnus
      Oh, you mean “いる+ある lesson”? sorry. I activated the comment now.

      Now about your question,

      a) 彼は家庭があります。= He has a family.
      b)彼には家庭があります。 = He does have a family.

      c) 私は弟がいます。= I have a younger brother.
      d) 私には弟がいます。= I do have a younger brother.

      They are all correct. に has a function of emphasizing.
      So b) + d) sounds much stronger.

  10. One question.
    A guy told me “Kaze ki wo tsukete kudasai ne” and I was wondering if it’s just casual and normal to say that. I don’t think any japanese girl ever said that to me.
    Thank you.

    1. @Shaina

      = Kaze ni ki wo tsukete kudasaine.
      Yes, it is nice and polite. And both men and women can say that.
      (Between friends, you just say 風邪に気をつけてね! = Kaze ni ki wo tsukete ne. or 風邪を引かない様に気をつけてね。= Kaze wo hikanai you ni ki wo tsukete ne.)

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