How to say 「頑張ろ」「頑張ります」 in English

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They are going for it!

Sometimes you need to use extra effort or give special attention to something. Maybe you need to take an exam, or work on a special project at work. You want to get a good result, so you do everything possible to succeed.

When you look up 「頑張ろ」(or)「頑張ります」 in a dictionary, it usually says, “to do your best.” But actually, the phrase “I’ll do my best” is not natural sounding in English in these kinds of situations. There are 2 reasons why.

First of all, your best is 100%, and that is what you always do, unless you’re really lazy all the time! We expect someone will do always their best, so it is not natural to say that. Nobody says, “Oh, it’s my first day of work at a new job. I will do 90% of my ability. That sounds weird, right?

I think the meaning and nuance of 「頑張ろ」(or)「頑張ります」 is, this is something very important, so I will give it extra effort and attention. In other words, I will give this more than 100%..more than my best.

Here are some phrases you can use in English to show that you are going to put in extra effort:

  • It’s my first day of work at a new job. I’m going to try really hard.
  • The marathon is tomorrow. I’m gonna go for it.
  • The exam is next week. I’m gonna study like crazy to pass it.

By the way, the second problem with “I’ll do my best” is that native English speakers often use “I’ll do my best” to mean, I’ll try, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to. We use “I’ll do my best” when someone asks us to do something for them. If that person’s request seems difficult to do, we say “I’ll do my best.” I think that is the opposite meaning of 「頑張ろ」(or)「頑張ります」

I hope this was a helpful English lesson. If you have any questions, or would like my help to make your English sound more natural, I teach private English lessons in my office on Madison and 40th Street, and on Skype. Feel free to send me a message here.