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I wouldn't do that. It's true that some people use お姉さん, but you'll be taking unnecessary risk. For a example, some older women might get offended for being called that way, and some younger women might get offended, too! It's like calling somebody "Hi young woman!". Of course some people will like it. If you say お姉さん to an 大阪のおばちゃん, you might get that ...


A very common (and mature-sounding) phrase would be 「[差]{さ}し[支]{つか}えなければ」. 「差し支え」 means "obstacle", "inconvenience", etc. 「差し支えなければ、ご[職業]{しょくぎょう}をお[聞]{き}きしてもよろしいですか。」 You may add a 「もし」 at the beginning as well. Other natural expressions would include: Polite:「(もし)お[尋]{たず}ねしてもよろしければ」 Less polite:「もし聞いてもよければ」


I would probably say [失礼]{しつ・れい}ですが、~ → I'm sorry to be rude, but ~


Not at all, こんばんは is used frequently in everyday (well, "every night") discussion and is absolutely acceptable in both informal and formal situations, and everything in between. However, there are super-informal alternatives; I've heard just ばん、and less often こんばん (confusing, as this just means "this evening") and ばんは (has a strange ring to it). ...


As YangMuye explained, honorifics can be used to clarify first and second person without ever needing to use a first or second person pronoun. In that, usage of 謙譲語{けんじょうご} implies I'm talking about me. Usage of 尊敬語{そんけいご} implies I am talking about you. An extended discussion about this topic can be read on the thread titled そちら as a second person pronoun. ...


I also found out that すみません can be used to express "I am sorry" when doing something wrong like unintentionally stepping on someone's foot. And for expressing "pardon" if we don't understand what the interlocutor says I think we can use 'はい?' with rising intonation. And 'はい?' here is a question like "yes?" Or "I'm sorry?".


とのことです is a hearsay and a bit formal way. For example,your boss said Mike is working at 碑文谷警察署の本町二丁目交番. Then,your business partner asked you where Mike is working at? So you answered 碑文谷警察署の本町二丁目交番とのことです if you like to express it in common way,you can say Mike は碑文谷警察署の本町二丁目交番で働いています。

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