I've heard that it is supposed to be "less demanding" (or something in that regard) to ask a negative question when you're asking for a favor or anything alike.

Let's say I want to turn this sentence into a negative one:


How do I go about doing it? I want to convey the following meaning: "Should we talk over skype?"

  • The same happens in English. The basic, straight-foward question would be Do we talk on Skype? But in common usage, people make that less direct by negating it, or making it voluntary &c.: Can we talk..., Would you like to talk..., How about talking on..., Couldn't we talk..., Do you wanna talk..., and more.
    – blutorange
    Sep 8 '14 at 17:30

By chance I just read something new (for me) on these expressions which explains Choko's answer (〜ませんか?):

〜ましょうか? is used when the speaker is in a position to make the relevant decision. When used as an invitation toward someone with who the speaker is not too close it can sound too familiar.


〜ませんか? is used as a polite invitation. The meaning is similar to "Would you like to ~?" in English. (Don't confuse with 〜ないんですか? which means "You're not...")

Reference: "Japanese Grammar in Use" - E Manita & J Blagdon p188

  • This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for making a clear distinction between these 2 ways of asking.
    – chlenix
    Sep 11 '14 at 22:25

I think I would probably say スカイプで話しませんか?

  • 1
    Is it true that 「~ませんか。」 is less demanding than 「~ましょうか。」? Sep 8 '14 at 21:53
  • 1
    @3to5businessdays It is the difference between "shall we~/let's~" and "Aren't we going to"/"Will you not..": To go one step further the positive, as in ~てくれますか, is less pushy than the negative ~てくれませんか.
    – Tim
    Sep 8 '14 at 23:51
  • @3to5businessdays: see my answer (below)
    – Tim
    Sep 11 '14 at 16:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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