Nuance is a big thing here. There are 2 specific Japanese phrases that I've been muddling up in the past few weeks.
'X no sei de' (のせいで) - because of X, owing to X
'X no okage de' (のおかげで) - because of X, owing to X
*takes brief pause to welcome and roll around in your sympathy*
Okay, I admit I missed something important out here.
The main meaning of 'okage de' is 'thanks to'. The other meanings I used above are right, but they're secondary. It is always a positive thing. 'okage' by itself means something similar to 'the grace of God'. Like heaven did you a favour.
Saying 'sei de', on the other hand, always has negative connotations. You'd say it when blaming someone or something when life's going wrong. It'd be more natural to translate 'X no sei de' as 'X's fault'.
So I mixed these up in conversation, and I got some very strange looks. "Yeah, I had this amazing time, and it was alllllll Y's fault!" Said while grinning.
I've been repeatedly saying 'sei de' when I mean 'okage de'. Never the other way round, though. Is it worrying that I automatically go for the 'blame' word?
I personally blame TV.
Near the start of my Japanese learning adventures, I watched a lot of TV shows to try to get a feel for it. Most of the time, nobody's thanking anyone for their efforts. 'Anata no sei yo!' is very drama-like. In dramas, people get emotional real quickly. There's a lot of finger-pointing, figuratively and literally. The plot twists that have to exist for the drama to continue are always caused by someone.
When it comes to all of the other 'thanks/gratitude' polite words, I'm good. 'Okage de' still trips me up and I use 'sei de' instead. Then I have to explain it's my fault for getting it wrong, which doesn't make things better.
To me, there's only one way around this. Which is to us 'okage de' for everything. The people who deserve my thanks get it. And those who don't feel the brunt of my sarcasm. "Thanks sooooo much!" Not. See, us Brits can dole out spoonfuls of nuance with the best of them.