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In my everyday conversations when trying to confirm an understanding or recall a piece of information I am sure I had heard before, I often use (そう)だっけ、だったっけ、and でしたっけ when speaking to equals or 目下の人。 But when talking to 目上の人 I'm never quite sure what the equivalent expression would be. I know that でしたっけ can be used with 目上の人 depending on your relationship and the situation, but I am trying to find out if there is a polite(r) equivalent※.

So far I've been given ~かね as a candidate from a native speaker. But since it was the only candidate and it doesn't carry the feeling of "trying to remember" I am inclined to think that there is no polite equivalent.

On top of that, depending on the situation and listener, it could be taken like you are doubting the other person, being condescending, or lack class(品)。Here is the site I got that from.

So, to sum up my questions: Is there a polite equivalent※ to っけ and if so, what is it? If not, what do people say when trying to recall a piece of information that they are sure they once had when in a situation where they should use keigo?

※By equivalent I mean carries the same nuance and feeling, not just in meaning as in "can be used to form a question."

Let me give some examples so I can explain the way the words "feel" as I understand them. The different meanings may or may not require different intonations. Also, I am not going to exhaust all options.


1) Trying to remember if this is his car or not.
2) Expressing disbelief that this is his car. Both very casual.


1) Same as above, but more polite. However, I highly doubt a regular worker (please assume properly educated, polite person) would say this to their 部長. This is the reason I posted this question.


1) Expressing conviction that I know this is your car, but I want confirmation
2) Could also be used accusatorially
(I think there would be a split opinion about whether this could be used with a 部長)


1) Used to ask a plain old question
2) Could sound like I'm being condescending
3) Could sound like I doubt the validity of their claim
4) Could sound accusatory


1) Used to ask a plain old question
2) Could be used to get confirmation
3) Could be used to express doubt

The point is that none of these are equivalents in terms of nuance and feeling, or even usage other than the fact that they modify the conveyed feeling and intent of questions.

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I enjoyed the Yomiuri blog. It is clear that some native speakers share your (quite valid) feeling strongly, others have occaison not to worry about about it so much depending on the situation. –  Tim Oct 19 '12 at 22:41
@By137 Now that you've edited the question I'm not sure exactly what you are asking. Do you wish to know a politer expression for each of the above cases? Before the editing it sounded as if you wanted something generic enough but still polite to replace っけ. For the new examples you listed, the first four can be considered somewhat casual depending on the context and how you actually say it (does the sentence end with the intonation going up or down? That sort of thing). –  Taro Sato Oct 20 '12 at 15:55
@Taro Do you agree that one of the main nuances of っけ involves the feeling of "trying to recall something"? As in パーティーはいつだっけ? (I'm pretty sure I heard when the party was, and I'm trying to remember that information now) A very useful nuance. I'm trying to find out if there is a polite "word" that carries a similar feeling/nuance since っけ is definitely not OK for 敬語 situations. The first answer I received was a list of a bunch of different endings two of which I had already dealt with in my Q. So I included them in my Q to show how they do not answer the question. The Q is still only about っけ. –  By137 Oct 20 '12 at 17:26
@Taro Actually, I think yours is the most accurate answer, but it would help if you specifically said "There is no polite equivalent to っけ. When using 敬語 people would use でしょうか in situations where they would otherwise use だっけ if the situation were casual." Assuming that's what you meant, of course. –  By137 Oct 20 '12 at 17:33
@By137 It kinda got long so I also edited my response below. I'm in no way an expert of 敬語, but I hope I'm adding something useful. –  Taro Sato Oct 20 '12 at 18:21
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The original question basically comes down to finding an "honorific" way (yes, that dreaded 敬語 thing) of saying だっけ? or でしたっけ?

I would say a good and polite alternative would be to replace those expressions with でしょうか? To say


you say


Of course depending on what comes before だっけ and also to whom you are talking, the politer expressions would take slightly different forms. My example above is not the politest but is generally good enough to sound not rude.

Edit after the OP added a few more examples:

I see what you mean. Your understanding of different nuances for all those example cases is correct (mostly in line with mine, that is... and as you abundantly know those nuances can change slightly in different contexts and for different people). As I see, you are trying to find an equivalent of っけ when used to remember something and doing so by directing a question to someone else.

While I still think my answer above would be "safe" (since it is a 敬語 expression, though not the most 丁寧 one) and can achieve the same thing, I think the reason why you may be having harder time (as I have browsing Google先生) looking for an equivalent of っけ is that, within the social context in which accurate use of 敬語 is very important, it might be that asking a petty question for the purpose of getting a simple confirmation from someone above you in status could even be considered somewhat indecent already.

Am I over-thinking? Perhaps, and obviously in daily communication it is your intention and mutual respect that really matters, less your 敬語 word usage (reason why even でしたっけ can be fine in some contexts), but there's a reason why the politest form of 敬語 often demands you to explicitly express appreciation for the time and effort on the part of superordinate.

So in such a situation, I could even go like


This is certainly much politer, but you kind of feel the excessive politeness in view of the insignificance of the question itself. Or just even


would be okay.

In both cases, the major difference is the explicit concern for the inconvenience that you asking question could cause. Such an expression for that concern is often enough.

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Awesome answer! I truly feel I've learned something important. Not only that there is no equivalent to っけ, but why there is no equivalent. I think this understanding will help in many different situations. Thank you so much! –  By137 Oct 21 '12 at 4:55
I'm rediscovering Japanese these days so learn as much from responding to these questions. I struggled learning English, so I have a great respect for those who study a foreign language as deeply as you guys do here. –  Taro Sato Oct 21 '12 at 6:58
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You can also use っけ with です・ます, as in


If you want to avoid っけ for its familiarity (as when talking with your boss), I would use よね instead of っけ, which can also be used in conjunction with both the です・ます forms and the "dictionary" forms, e.g.


There are also (の)か, かな or かね, which can be used in a similar way.

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I agree with you about your alternatives but perhaps you should add that they need to be used with the correct intonation/NVC? eg when saying そうでしたよね I might make eye contact with my boss and drag it out slowly to give him/her the chance to consider his/her response. –  Tim Oct 19 '12 at 22:38
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