Q. What should I say when I give someone a present?


Americans who know Japanese custom are aware that when a person says, “This is nothing” (Tsumaranai mono desuga…), that person is being polite. But this is not what one should say in English to an American who does not know Japanese traditions. Instead, it is more proper to say, “Here’s a present for you. I hope you like it.” or “I found this pretty flower vase at a shop near my office and I wanted you to have it.” Such comments convey the feeling of the giver who has thought enough about the receiver to bring the gift. Do not diminish the value of the gift by saying “It is nothing” or “This isn’t very nice.”