丁寧さ. From social politeness ("please", "thank you", etc) to the technical Japanese grammatical concepts of honorifics and respectful and humble forms known as "keigo".

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11
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1answer
1k views

What to say at the cash register in the convenience store

I just came back from Japan, it is my first time, so I found myself in the situations, that I wasn't prepared for. At the convenience store I noticed natives tend not to say much to the staff at all, ...
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it proper to thank waitstaff, cashiers, etc. for their service?

In my Japanese class we were taught that one does not need to thank a cashier when they check you out or a server when they bring you your meal, but I always feel awkward remaining silent. Was my ...
4
votes
1answer
538 views

Thank you note to Japanese professor

I just finished an introductory Japanese class, and the class bought a small gift for the professor. I'm planning to drop the gift off at the professor's office, so I need to write a brief tag saying ...
0
votes
1answer
85 views

(美化語)なさい - sound

The difference between (連用形)なさい and (美化語)なさい is rather clear; the first would only be used for social inferiors, and the second can be used for social superiors (it's also part of set expressions ...
7
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3answers
1k views

In actual Japanese society, how often are second-person pronouns used?

My Japanese professor (I'm in first-year Japanese) advised us to primarily avoid the use of second-person pronouns like あなた or 君 or おまえ throughout the year, and essentially treated their utterance as ...
7
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1answer
248 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
4
votes
1answer
97 views

Polite/nice way to ask for a language exchange partner

日本の言語パートナーを探して。 Is what I currently came up with but I think it is much to direct. I want to express something like this: "I would be very pleased to find a Japanese language exchange partner" ...
2
votes
1answer
99 views

僕 in 敬語 - is it possible?

With 丁寧語, it's very possible - 僕が行きます is a perfectly normal thing to say. But what of 僕が参ります? Would that sound odd? 私が参ります would be more normal, I think, but is 僕が参ります possible at all?
3
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1answer
139 views

Can using ある in place of いる be offensive?

Considering that ある is objectifying wouldn't it be offensive to use it in いる's place when talking about a person, or would it just be seen as a mistake?
3
votes
3answers
829 views

What is the polite way to say, “move?”

My grandma always says, "そこ" when she wants someone to move, -usually she just says that to my mom or me- but I have heard that that translates more as a brusque, move than an, "excuse me". Would I ...
6
votes
1answer
479 views

How are twins addressed by their teacher at school?

If two twin brothers attended the same class, how would their teacher address each of them to indicate to whom they were speaking to, since they shared the same family name? Would one be seen as the ...
1
vote
1answer
107 views

How does 「から」 work in regards to 「だから」 and 「ですから」?

I'm confused at how から works, and there's very little information on this subject. だから is used in front of a な adjective or noun. い adjectives simply use 「から」. Verbs can be in ます form, and only use ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

Situational use of politeness

I am often confused on which level of politeness to use between people who are relatively close. For example, let say I am talking when a friend in Japanese and we use plain form. Although a close ...
9
votes
2answers
761 views

How to answer someone else's phone?

I am in a Japanese office setup sitting next to my boss. He often gets phone calls but most of the time he is not in his seat. How do I answer his phone say that "This is Mr. XX's seat and this is YY ...
3
votes
1answer
192 views

How to ask someone to do something for you

I'd like to know how to politely ask someone (as a question, not a statement) to do something for me in Japanese. I'm already aware of the basic "___をください" and "___をおねがいします" patterns, but I don't want ...
2
votes
2answers
332 views

くだけた日本語 towards people you dislike?

Is this used ONLY amongst family and close friends or can you use it when you're trying to be rude? For example if you use it on someone you don't like such as a stranger, could it be understood ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is “kisama” more refined than “temee”?

From Wikipedia:  –§–  貴様 — formerly an extremely honorific form of address; in modern speech is as insulting as, but more refined than, "temee" 貴様 is often ...
1
vote
1answer
112 views

Adjective negation: difference between 〜くない and 〜くありません

What's the difference between 〜くない and 〜くありません? Both are added to an i-adjective (イ形容詞, verb type adjective) to make it negative. For example: 寒くない 寒くありません But what's the difference? Is one more ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Answering exams in Japanese

When you are taking up an exam that is not written in 丁寧語 but rather in dictionary form, and it requires a brief answer from you (for example, the problem you have to answer is simply 「理由:」 ), are you ...
3
votes
1answer
133 views

How do you ask if you are understood without being rude?

For example explaining to an acquaintance or a stranger something, but I don't know if it's understood or not and would like to ask. In English I would say something like "I'm sorry, was my ...
2
votes
0answers
66 views

Use of です after informal verb conjugation [duplicate]

The following sentence I saw confuses me: わたしは すしが たべられないです。 So it takes the verb たべる (to eat), turns it into the potential form たべられる(to be able to eat) and then conjugates it in to the ...
3
votes
1answer
172 views

Help with Kenjougo!

I'm trying to come up with a polite introduction. Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Megan to moushimasu. Tekisasu kara mairimashita. watashi wa kentakkii-shuu ni sunde orimasu. Sumimasen, watashi ...
5
votes
3answers
698 views

Is it polite in Japan to ask if someone speaks English? (英語を話せますか?)

As preparation for my trip, I am re-learning my Japanese. I imagined a scenario which I am not sure if it is okay to ask. Is it polite to ask someone if they speak English or are people offended by ...
4
votes
1answer
207 views

How to ask for something, formally, but on the internet

I don't really have a great understanding of Japanese internet culture, but as a Korean, I'm guessing it would be quite similar to ours in terms of "formality," as both Korean and Japanese have ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

How to convert verbs from polite form to dictionary form?

Does anyone have a good rule for converting to dictionary (u)form from masu form regarding the different verb groups? Most websites start with dictionary and go to masu but I learned starting with ...
5
votes
1answer
182 views

Politeness level congruency

This question comes from observing a game show called ガキの使いやあらへんで ("instant miso soup" episode), where the participants have to match a product to the one they consume while blindfolded. They are only ...
3
votes
1answer
290 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
5
votes
2answers
506 views

Polite or casual?

Is this sentence polite or casual? Or even better. Is it correct to use this casual type of sentences inside another more polite? This is the sentence: 時間がなかったからパーティーに行きませんでした。 Wouldn't it be ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Polite Way to Ask “How old are you?” : 何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

I think the sentences: 何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? are all sentences that ask "How old are you?" How are they different? What form is most polite?
0
votes
1answer
144 views

Is 何歳ですか polite? [duplicate]

何歳ですか (なんさいですか) - How old are you? Is it usual for Japanese to ask each other how old they are, and if it is, how do they go about and ask it? Is there a polite way to ask, or do you not ask this at ...
0
votes
0answers
46 views

Only 〜ます in ending verb vs. 〜ませんでした [duplicate]

As I understand, 〜ます should only be used in the ending verb while others inside the sentence should be in basic form. How come, then, that the polite past negative tense is made using 〜ませんでした, which ...
5
votes
1answer
353 views

Respectful way to say “policeman”

Let's say I want to call a policeman, or I am in a n-person conversation involving a policeman and I want a word to refer to the policeman. And let's say I want a respectful word. I believe おまわりさん ...
5
votes
1answer
335 views

How do you politely and gratefully reply to an invitation to be published?

Is there a set phrase for politely replying to an invitation to have your academic paper published as a journal article? I presented a paper at a Japanese academic conference, and I've received an ...
3
votes
1answer
290 views

Politely asking to stay at someone's home? お邪魔させてもらう、泊めてもらう、or 滞在させてもらう?

Which of the following is the most polite? Is any of them incorrect? Is there a more standard way to ask someone if you could stay with them while in town? ~ 8日から9日まで、あなたのお宅にお邪魔させてもらえませんか。 ~ ...
8
votes
3answers
305 views

Is おつかれさん “correct” Japanese to address to someone of lower status?

I have noticed in various environments that some people will sometimes, when speaking to someone of lower status, say おつかれさん instead of お疲れ様. Similarly one might here ご苦労さん instead of ご苦労様. I've ...
17
votes
5answers
5k views

How do you respond to thanks given?

How do you respond to ありがとうございます and other ways of giving thanks? Are there any expressions similar to the English "You're welcome" or "No problem", or is it appropriate to not respond at all?
6
votes
2answers
174 views

Why does the waiter use past tense here

When I was trying to order a set meal in the restaurant, the waiter said Aランチのほうでよろしかったでしょうか I am not sure why the past tense よろしかった is used here, I personally would say Aランチのほうでよろしいでしょうか ...
16
votes
6answers
9k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
15
votes
5answers
906 views

In modern usage how do Japanese natives regard the differences between 外人, 外国人 and 外人さん?

As a near native speaker of Japanese, I find it annoying to be called 外人 since it seems to imply that I "know nothing about Japan" (outsider). I much prefer 外国人. In modern usage, how do native ...
7
votes
1answer
626 views

How impolite is it to call a waitress お姉{ねえ}さん?

Were I in a situation where I want to get the attention of a waitress in a noisy restaurant, I kind of feel like calling-out: "お姉{ねえ}さん、すみませんが、ビールもう一本お願いできますか?". I think that I've seen this done in a ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How would you say “if you don't mind my asking”?

This is something that is often said in English to politely ask a question while avoiding sounding overly intrusive. For example, What do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking? The ...
3
votes
2answers
507 views

Is こんばんは too formal for everyday conversation?

When giving a talk on Japanese, How to talk like a ge1sha, I made a terrible mistake: I invited someone who knew something about the language along. The only times he heckled me was when he reckoned ...
6
votes
1answer
747 views

Addressing strangers without knowing the name

How does one address a stranger in a casual conversation when name is unknown? For example, I had a conversation with an older Japanese lady and I wanted to compliment her on her English (but in ...
33
votes
5answers
9k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", ...
2
votes
1answer
303 views

Usage and meaning of とのことです

I see this often in business emails, I guess it is not very important in terms of meaning but I couldn't find any post on stackexchange about it. What does とのことです add to a sentence? Here is the ...
2
votes
1answer
234 views

“Ungrammatical” 丁寧語 used by tour guides and museum narrators

I noticed on my trip to Japan that tour guides in museums etc use a very interesting type of language. It seems to be used almost exclusively by people in Osaka and Kyoto. There are two features that ...
9
votes
1answer
501 views

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it?

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it? Examples: の only: 普通、大勢 な or の: 初心、特別、特殊 Is there a way for us to tell if a 形容動詞 needs a の or な particle after ...
6
votes
2answers
250 views

Why do Japanese businessmen use 「さん」 even with うち names in meetings with foreigners

I noticed that many Japanese businessmen tend to address the colleagues they are traveling with, or even introduce themselves as ◯◯◯さん. This would clearly be a faux-pas in a Japanese-only meeting, yet ...
13
votes
2answers
288 views

What are the origins of ド when used as emphasis, and is it always negative?

Sometimes I've seen ド as a prefix that adds emphasis to words. So saying someone is ドバカ is saying that they are much more stupid than just バカ. I'm wondering what the origin of ド in this context is. ...
5
votes
2answers
478 views

For verbs with irregular humble/honorific forms, are the regular forms still used?

There are verbs with irregular humble forms, e.g. the humble form of 借りる is 拝借する. For these verbs, are the "normal humble conjugations" still used, or considered grammatical? Would お借りする be ...