Imagine wanting to tell a superior something along the lines of, "I saw/read/received your e-mail." In Japanese, there's sometimes something with using the te form along with words like くださる and もらう to suggest a favor has been done, or something like that. So would this be a good way to put it:


As in, "I saw your nice e-mail," or something like that.

Why or why not? If not, what's the proper way to go about this? Thanks!

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    Nearly all Japanese-speakers, myself included, would think it was a question if they saw the sentence 「電子メールを見てくださいました。」. "Did you read my/the e-mail?" That is why I read it, though silently, with a rising intonation at the end. – l'électeur Feb 27 '14 at 23:08
  • You want a polite, spoken phrase (not written), right? – user1016 Feb 28 '14 at 15:56

くださる is used when the -doer- is the one who needs honorifics, so that sentence makes it sound like you're exalting yourself above the listener. (It can be appropriate if you're talking about someone else having seen your email.) もらう has similar problems - -てもらう is used when someone else is doing the thing, so メールを見てもらった sounds like '[I] had [my] email read'. You don't typically talk about doing favours for other people, generally you talk about other people doing favours for you - the connotations of the relevant grammar honour the person who goes out of his way to do something nice, rather than humbling the person that receives the nice thing.

Typically in situations like this you don't need any particular honorifics beyond -ます, but if the superior is high enough up in the company's hierarchy, you might feel drawn to a humble sentence like メールをお読みしました. メールを見ました or メールを読みました is almost always going to be enough.

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    We never say お見しました. Where did you learn this? – l'électeur Feb 27 '14 at 22:40
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    @TokyoNagoya, I suspect Sjiveru learned お[連用形]する, which is a standard 謙譲語 template, but didn't learn or forgot the exceptions. I don't know exactly what the exceptions are, but it seems one-mora 連用形s don't work, e.g. *お見する・お来する・おしする・お出する. – dainichi Feb 28 '14 at 2:20
  • Ah, I wasn't sure about it, but Google's IME was happy enough to convert it so I assumed it was permissible. I'll fix the answer. – Sjiveru Feb 28 '14 at 17:10

In addition to what @Sjiveru said, it's probably also OK to use

○ 読ませていただきました ; ? お読みしました
○ 目を通しました (this might require some discretion, as it may make the email sound unimportant)
○ メール、確認させていただきました ; △ メールが届きました
○ 拝見しました (again, depending on how high up this superiour is)

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    「お読みしました」はちょっと変です。「読ませていただきました(read)」の方がいいかも。「メールが届きました」も「メール、確かに頂戴しました」(received)とか「メール、確認させていただきました」(recieved/read)とか。。。 「メール、拝見しました。」が一番いい感じですが・・・ – user1016 Feb 28 '14 at 1:10
  • @Chocolate Should it not be 拝見いたしました? – Earthliŋ Feb 28 '14 at 13:42
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    I think that 確認させていただきました is only appropriate when you were asked to confirm/check an email. If you just receive an email, reading the email is the least the sender can expect. It's like saying "thank you for letting me confirm your email" when you just mean "I read your email". – Earthliŋ Feb 28 '14 at 14:12
  • @Earthliŋ 拝見いたしました would sound politer and both 拝見しました and 拝見いたしました would work alright, and I think 拝見しました is more used in verbal communication. Some people use 拝見させていただきました too (but others say it's 二重敬語.) – user1016 Feb 28 '14 at 15:23
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    @Tim 読ませていただきました is a polite, formal way of saying 読みました(I read it). メールを書いていただきました would be a polite way of saying メールを書いてもらった(I had him write an email.) You can use させていただく even when you're not asked to do the action. eg. 「勝手ながら、調べさせてもらったよ。/調べさせていただきましたよ。」「ええっ!そんな、ひどい!」 – user1016 Mar 16 '14 at 6:37

This kind of question is very good because it puts us on the spot in exactly the same way we often find ourselves in real life. Unfortunately, just like many questions on this site, we need to know a bit more about the context:

Is it someone you deal with on a daily basis? If so then you will use the "politeness level" you use with them all the time - probably neutral Japanese.

If they are asking you if you saw their mail then your response will follow the level and words they used in the question, so the conversation will be something like:



And you will wait for the next question, ready to give your view or explain the action taken.

If you are broaching the subject then:

1)You will ask them if they are busy.

2) If you have a view or a response that might take time then you introduce the subject first, giving them the opportunity to postpone the conversation.

3) At all times you have to be clear what you are talking about so as not to waste their time.

(This might all sound obvious but you have not described the scenario and although we are often concerned not to offend by using the wrong level of politeness, getting these things right may be more important to the superior)

So, having got their attention you will probably say something like:


And then, depending on the scenario be ready to follow up requested information/opinion etc.

Regarding level of politeness:

  • If you want to say this to a very important person you do not often deal with and need to show reserve then the humble verb will be 拝見しました.
  • くださる is used to refer to the other person's actions done for you.
  • Humble forms such as お読みしました are used to describe actions you are doing for the other person to help them which may not apply to things have to as part of your job anyway!
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I would use

I saw your email.

I read your email.

I received your email.

for "I saw/read/received your mail". Using 電子メール is fine, but not really necessary. Maybe 電子メール is similar saying "electronic mail" in English.

A more humble way of phrasing the first two would be


which might be

Thank you very much for your email. [More details/comments/questions following.]

For a simple confirmation of receipt, the first version (e.g. 拝見いたしました) is more appropriate.. For a detailed reply (or "I saw your nice email"), the second version (e.g. 拝見させていただきました) is more appropriate.

Note. くださる is used to address other people, so 見てくださいました, with or without か or question mark, is always assumed to be a question addressed to someone else, not a statement about yourself.

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  • Why are you dropping the を ?, perhaps you should include 「、」. I don't think you would omit it without an appropriate pause for breath in conversation (see Chocolate's comment), and not in written Japanese. – Tim Mar 1 '14 at 0:37
  • For reasons mysterious to me, 敬語 seems to be less strict about keeping particles. I think either is fine and I don't think omission necessitates a comma. – Earthliŋ Mar 1 '14 at 1:23

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