Language Making Requests in Japanese

By JREF · Apr 2, 2012 ·
  1. JREF
    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).

    お茶を飲みませんか。
    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).

    買っていただけません(でしょう)か。
    Katte itadakemasen (deshou) ka.
    Won’t you please do me the favour of buying it for me? – very humble request

    買っていただけます(でしょう)か。
    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

    買ってくださいませ。
    Katte kudasaimase.
    Please be so kind as to buy it for me. – very polite imperative

    買ってください。
    Katte kudasai.
    Please buy it for me. – polite imperative

    買ってくれません(でしょう)か。
    Katte kuremasen (deshou) ka.
    Won’t you buy it for me? – polite request

    買ってくれない(だろう)?
    Katte kurenai (darou)?
    Won’t you buy it for me? – informal request

    買って。
    Katte.
    Buy it for me, will you? – informal imperative

    買ってくれ。
    Katte kure.
    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.

    それをしないで。
    Sore wo shinai de.
    Please don’t do that.

    鉛筆で書かないでください。
    Enpitsu de kakanai de kudasai.
    Please don’t write with a pencil.

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