Speaker 1: 先{さき}に食事{しょくじ}に行{い}っていいよ
Speaker 2: では、そうさせていただきます

Please help understand this conversation - especially the 「させていただきます」 construct. What would this translate into English as?


2 Answers 2


The form

The sentence, そうさせていただきます, is a typical example of use of 謙譲語{けんじょうご} (humble language).


Let's make the Speaker2's sentence a normal form. (Earlier step is politer.)

Step 1. では、そうさせていただきます。

Step 2. では、そうさせてもらいます。

Step 3. では、そうします。

Step 4. なら、そうする。

So, these sentences can be translated like:

Speaker1: You can go for a meal earlier than me.

Speaker2 (Literal): Well, I do so.

Speaker2 (Free): Well, I go.

Speaker1 allows Speaker2 to go for a meal earlier than Speaker1.

Then, Speaker2 responds to him.

(The translation on the meriororen's comment is not correct because Speaker2 has already been permitted to go when s/he responds.)

Reference: Kenjogo

Humble language, 謙譲語{けんじょうご}, is used when you talk to someone higher ranking than you.

Here is a great explanation: Business Japanese – Keigo II – Kenjougo Japanese Talk Online


People learning Japanese get all caught up in polite language by twisting odd sounding honourific English to make it seem like it's at the same level of politeness as Japanese, like "I humble receive you allowing me to do that". From now on, think of いただきます as simply meaning "get" or "have" as in "getting someone to do something nice for you", because that's all it really is at its core. It's used in the same sense as the "get" in "Can I get you to reach that book for me" or the "have" in "I had him buy it for me" (with favour and appreciation implied).

させる, as you have probably learnt, is when person A has person B do something, whether they make them do it or let them do it. そうさせる is "you'll have me do that" or visa versa depending on the context. When it's attached to いただく is is always the speaker that "gets" the other person doing the させるing, and because いただく implies favour it is always the "let me do" or "allow me to do" nuance rather than the "make me do" nuance.

では,そうさせていただきます is then literally "in that case, I'll get you to let me do that" or "in that case, I shall have you allow me me to do that."

お返事させていただきます is literally "I shall have you let me reply". In English we would say "please allow me to reply" but this is actually a request or soft command.

お休みさせていただきます is "we shall have you allow us to rest", i.e. "We are closed".

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