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感謝の気持ちは品物の量じゃない。 気持ちなんだから、気持ちがこもっていればいい。
A feeling of gratitude isn't about the amount of stuff. Because it's a feeling it should be filled with feeling.

Obviously my translation of the second sentence is meaningless. How should I translate 気持ち here?

Also I don't understand how こもる works. Apparently it means 'to be filled with' so I would expect 気持ちがこもる to mean 'feeling is filled with ...' rather than 'filled with feeling'. Why is が used rather than で to denote what something is filled with?

For example, in answer to the question "Who is filled with happiness?" how would I say "Tanaka is filled with happiness". I would have said 田中さんが幸せでこもる, but I'm guessing that's completely wrong.

  • で + こもる is reserved for "to retreat inside at" so it doesn't work. – broccoli forest May 9 '16 at 9:55
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For the verb こもる, the thing that is doing the 'filling' is usually followed by a が, like in the example you gave. That is just how this verb operates. You can see more examples here if you like.

If you want to talk about someone actively doing the "filling", you can use the verb こめる (込める), where the thing to be "filled" is followed by を:

僕は気持ちを込めて歌を作曲したいです。

Natural translation: I want to make songs with feeling.

Literal translation: I want to make songs and put feeling into them.

About your question regarding "Tanaka is filled with happiness", I think your Japanese translation isn't natural because of how こもる is used, and think the following would be a bit more natural:

田中さんは幸せでいっぱいです。

EDIT: Here is a translation of the Japanese text given in the original post. While the grammar is somewhat straightforward (given my above explanation), it's a little tricky to translate.

I ended up with a somewhat non-literal translation, but I think this is a good way to express the meaning of the original Japanese.

感謝の気持ちは品物の量じゃない。 気持ちなんだから、気持ちがこもっていればいい。

Expressing gratitude isn't about the amount of things you give. Since it's about feelings, the important thing is that the giver has put feeling into buying the gift.

I could have also used something like "It's the thought that counts".

  • Thanks. I think I understand こもる now, but I still can't make sense of my second sentence. Any thoughts? – user3856370 May 8 '16 at 9:53
  • I added a translation of the entire passage you gave. Let me know if this helps. – Locksleyu May 8 '16 at 15:13
  • Your translation certainly makes sense, but it doesn't help me to understand the sentence structure. Sorry to be a pain but could you try a literal translation even if it isn't good English. For example I thought すればいい means 'should do', and I don't see any mention of 'giving'. Thanks very much. – user3856370 May 8 '16 at 15:19
  • Glad to have helped (: The すればいい structure often maps to a concept of "just do X and you are good". – Locksleyu May 8 '16 at 17:37

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