Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

こんなちなみを ・・ ・・

I'm playing Ace Attorney 3 (逆転裁判3), and there's a girl in the dock (ちなみ) giving evidence. She's just been found to be lying about something and is asking for forgiveness.

I've seen the pattern ~ていただけませんか as a humble request, but why has she put a は after the て?

share|improve this question
@dainichi I notice in BCCWJ that てはいただけませんか has only 3 results, but ていただけませんか (without は) has 317. It doesn't seem like は is often used here, so I was trying to figure out what it might add to the sentence. – snailplane Jul 29 '14 at 1:48
@snailboat, good find and good point. I've retracted my close vote, but will leave the comment, since I believe it's related and relevant. – dainichi Jul 29 '14 at 4:39
@dainichi Oh, sorry, I didn't see that question before creating this one. I searched for「ては」and「てはいただけません」, but didn't think to search for は with negatives in general. It's sometimes difficult to know what to search for. Thanks for the link. – MisterM2402 Jul 29 '14 at 11:03
I think this question should be left open, not closed as a duplicate, since there's doubt as to whether it's completely explained by the other answer (several of us have chosen not to close as duplicate). – snailplane Jul 29 '14 at 15:40
up vote 4 down vote accepted

When you see a 「は」 in the following structures, it emphasizes the preceding verb, adjective or noun.

"[連用形]{れんようけい} (conjunctive form) or the て-form of a verb + 「は」"

"連用形 of an adjective + 「は」"

"Noun + 「で」 + 「は」"

「ユルして + は + いただけませんの?」 fits the first pattern above and in the phrase, the speaker is subtly adding emphasis to her petition for mercy. Without the 「は」, she could sound pretty arrogant. She could sound like she takes it for granted that she will be forgiven.  

share|improve this answer
Are you sure it's emphasising the -preceding- verb? It sounds to me like it's emphasising the -following- verb (いただく) by -de--emphasising the preceding verb. Am I wrong to think about it this way? – Sjiveru Jul 29 '14 at 3:51
@Sjiveru, one of my pet peeves is how I feel "emphasis" is used as a catch-all to explain away many things in language. What does it mean to "emphasize" ユルして? Forgive very strongly? Forgive completely? Forgive in contrast with some other action? The meaning of emphasizing いただけません seems even vaguer to me, since it's used as an auxiliary verb here. – dainichi Jul 29 '14 at 6:29
@dainichi Can we emphasize auxiliaries? - Yes, we CAN! – Thomas Gross Jul 29 '14 at 6:37
@dainichi I think you're quite right about the vagueness of 'emphasise'. I think Thomas Gross is right to put it in terms of topic/focus, where ゆるして is the topic because the speaker is kind of assuming the listeners know she'll be asking for forgiveness, and いただけません is the focus because she's trying to draw attention to how humbly she's asking. – Sjiveru Jul 29 '14 at 15:15
@dainichi The issue here concerns Information Structure. In some languages that is expressed syntactically (topic-fronting, etc.), or morphologically (by having focal affixes), or phonologically (prominence, etc.). Many languages combine these instruments. The point is always to distinguish between old or presupposed information and new information. The latter is in the focus. Focusing いただけませんの then means marking this word as highly relevant in communicative and informative terms. What that may mean in a concrete situation, must be resolved by the context, i.e. pragmatically. – Thomas Gross Jul 29 '14 at 15:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.