This is a brief overview of how to make requests in the Japanese language.
Inviting someone to do something
By using a negative question, you can invite someone to do something. For detailed instructions on how to construct negative forms and question, please refer to the negative forms and interrogative forms pages (see links below).
O-cha wo nomimasen ka.
Won’t you have some tea?
Asking someone to do something
The ren’youkei + てください (te kudasai) / + てくれ (te kure) can be used to ask someone to do something for you. The ren’youkei + てくれ (te kure) is very direct and should be avoided as it contains an imperative form. The ren’youkei + てください (te kudasai) also is imperative, but since ください (kudasai) is an honorific verb the request is polite.
The politeness can be increased for both versions by creating a negative question. Also, you can add the dubitative form to add some doubt to your request. To be extremely polite you can also combine the ren’youkei + て (te) form with the potential form of いただく (itadaku).
Katte itadakemasen (deshou) ka.
Won’t you please do me the favour of buying it for me? – very humble request
Katte itadakemasu (deshou) ka.
Would you please do me the favour of buying it for me? – humble request
買ってくださいません(でしょう)か。 (Katte kudasaimasen (deshou) ka.
Would you be so kind as to buy it for me? – very polite request
Please be so kind as to buy it for me. – very polite imperative
Please buy it for me. – polite imperative
Katte kuremasen (deshou) ka.
Won’t you buy it for me? – polite request
Katte kurenai (darou)?
Won’t you buy it for me? – informal request
Buy it for me, will you? – informal imperative
Buy it for me. – blunt imperative
For more information on dubitative, imperative, and polite forms, please check the links below.
Asking someone not to do something
This construction is achieved by adding ないでください。 (nai de kudasai) to the mizenkei conjugation.
Sore wo shinai de.
Please don’t do that.
Enpitsu de kakanai de kudasai.
Please don’t write with a pencil.