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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:

スカイプで話しましょうか?

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

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  • 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, 2014 at 17:30

2 Answers 2

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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

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  • This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for making a clear distinction between these 2 ways of asking.
    – chlenix
    Sep 11, 2014 at 22:25
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I think I would probably say スカイプで話しませんか?

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    Is it true that 「~ませんか。」 is less demanding than 「~ましょうか。」? Sep 8, 2014 at 21:53
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    @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, 2014 at 23:51
  • @3to5businessdays: see my answer (below)
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2014 at 16:13

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