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Here it reads :

As we mentioned earlier, itadaku means "to receive" or "to accept." But it's not a direct translation of the concept in English. There are certain situations where it's best not to use itadakimasu.

Here's your general rule of thumb:

You can use itadaku when you're offered an actual physical thing. It’s like you are saying, "I’ll take it," in a polite way.

Gloves, video games, tire irons, wigs, replacement basketball nets, you name it. If it's a physical object being offered to you, you can use itadaku to receive it.

Don't use itadakimasu to receive non-physical things.

Is a digital object (a file sent via email) considered as a physical object?

In other words, when I receive a file via email and need to express my gratitude ("Thanks for sending me this file") can I use いただきます?

For instance :

ドキュメントをいただきます

2 Answers 2

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ドキュメントをいただきます

We don't really say like that. In this case, we put it after a verb like 先日はドキュメントを送っていただき、ありがとうございました。Basically, we thank for his behavior. As a website you posted says, you can use the syntax noun + いただきます when you actually choose what to take, and it's not when you express your gratitude after receiving something.

I think we can use that syntax with non-physical things, too.

ドキュメントもありますが、そちらも一緒に送付しましょうか?

そうですね、ではドキュメントもいただきたいと思います。

This seems totally fine to me. Note that いただく is our behavior.

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  • I feel that いただきます is used before actually receiving the object (typically, we say いただきます before starting to eat). Is that correct? If yes, is there an idiomatic way of expressing the confirmation and the gratitude that we have already received the object? (Like in English "Thanks for the document" (meaning 'I received it and express my gratitude'))
    – starckman
    Aug 13 at 7:27
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    More precisely, I feel like we use いただきます exactly when we express our will to receive something (So, yes. we say it before receiving the object). You can say ドキュメントの件、ありがとうございます like in English for the confirmation and the gratitude.
    – Marronnier
    Aug 13 at 8:10
  • ありがとうございます. If I may ask one last question; how would we express confirmation only in this situation (i.e. confirming that I received a document via email)? I found things like メールが届きました; お手紙拝見しました.; はい、届きました; はい、受け取りました; but I am not really sure
    – starckman
    Aug 13 at 8:25
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    You’re always welcome:) If you want to be really polite, you can say 確かに頂戴いたしました or something. I’d just say 届きました or 受け取りました to my colleagues. But I’d still say 〜の件、ありがとうございます cuz we can use this phrase even if we don’t thank someone that much. Sometimes, that almost says nothing. Haha
    – Marronnier
    Aug 13 at 8:48
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I don't think it as tangible vs nontangible. To me it's more like consuming (in a broad sense) vs not consuming.

Many digital objects by their nature may not be consumed - they may be publicly available for download and no single person will consume it (in a way that will render the object unavailable to others then). That would make いただきます less appropriate.

If a digital document has been made specifically for you (or your team of people), it may be appropriate to to say Xさんからドキュメントをいただきました。 Or if you have been offered a virtual Amazon gift card that can be consumed, you can accept it by saying ありがとうございます。いただきます。

However, I can see why someone might advice you not to use いただきます for digital objects, because the criterion can often be a good enough proxy, and easier to use.

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  • Would it be possible to use いただきます after already having received the object?
    – starckman
    Aug 13 at 12:48

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