I've read at other sites that "don't work too hard" isn't something that's generally said in Japanese. Is there any truth to this?

Are there any alternatives if that is the case? In which circumstances would 無理(を)しないで(ください) and 働きすぎない(で/ように) be appropriate?

  • I say(あんまり)無理しないでね/無理しないようにね/(あまり)無理なさらないでくださいね etc to mean 'Don't work too hard.' (...Actually I say more like あんま無理せんといてくださいね/あんま無理(or無茶)せんときや~ in Kansai-ben...) P.S. Ah, and maybe 'お疲れの出ませんように' too.
    – user1016
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 6:58
  • Oh, I often say '頑張りすぎないでね' too. And... what else? Hmm
    – user1016
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 9:19
  • @Chocolate would you say that phrases like 体調を崩さないように and 体に気をつけてね are more common than 無理しないでね?
    – cypher
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 10:29
  • @ Cypher san I think we use all these phrases quite often in daily conversations/letters etc. Hmm, when I say 体調を崩さないようにね/体を壊さないようにね/体に気をつけてね (and 元気でね too), I think I mean '(Be sure to) take good care of yourself' rather than 'Don't work too hard.'
    – user1016
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 15:19
  • yukkuri shiteitte ne? Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 2:21

3 Answers 3


Not really used, not because the language does not allow, but because of the mentality.

無理しないで(ください)ね can fit most of the situations. Just meaning "Don't push yourself too much" 働きすぎないで/ように can be used as well. Nobody will correct you on this one.

An other way would be something like (and this case, 'work' is for a job only, not weight training or physical things) 働き過ぎには気をつけて(ください)ね that literally means: be careful not to work too hard.


I can't add much to the way to translate it as explained by chocolate and oldergod, but I can confirm that no, it's generally not said. Personally, I still don't understand it myself, but the psychological significance of work over here is incredible. It becomes much more a part of your average Japanese (males, especially) identity than it does for Westerners. It becomes a core source of self-esteem, much in the same way that friends and family do for us. Telling somebody not to work too hard in Japan is, in a way, like cautioning you not to love your family too much. There perhaps exists in the individual consciousness the concept that there is such a thing as too much work, but it has no immediacy. Much in the same way that you and I know that hijackings and cancer exist, but give little thought to them until they strike close to home.

  • 2
    You have a point, I don't think you would here anyone saying "You've been working so hard lately, why don't you just take it easy" in Japanese. Whenever I heard 無理しないで it was more in the context of "I know this is a really difficult task, don't kill yourself trying to get it done in one go". Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 13:56
  • Exactly. I've tried to say this exact phrase three or four times, and every time I ask a native how to say it, I get a good three or four minutes of confused looks before they get the meaning/intent. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 1:16
  • I'm not that familiar with Japanese culture, but I half-expected Japanese to be more likely, not less likely, than English, to have such a phrase. Akin to Japanese having 過労死 (death from overwork), but English lacking such a word.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 8:09
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm Interestingly, recently, there are incidents reported in East Asian countries of 過労死 that were caused by continuously playing Role Playing Games on the computer.
    – user458
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 12:54
  • I'd imagine that there being no phrase for "Don't work too hard" in the Japanese language comes from the same attitudinal causes as there being a such thing as death from working too hard. But I live here, so I have a lot of exposure to the culture. Commented May 27, 2012 at 13:29

I agree with the other answers that you won't find a Japanese person say this with the same nuance as English speakers, but I was watching TV with Japanese subtitles "Don't work too hard" was translated as 頑張りすぎるなよ。

The man who said it is romantically involved with the person said to in the show. If you were to say it to coworkers I'd go with a more polite like 頑張りすぎないで。

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