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I'd like to know how to politely ask someone (as a question, not a statement) to do something for me in Japanese. I'm already aware of the basic "___をください" and "___をおねがいします" patterns, but I don't want to use these because they actually sound very rude to me.

Personally, I never say things like "Give me that book, please" in English, because it sounds rather demanding, (since it is a statement) and adding "please" at the end doesn't do much to make this sound polite, IMO. I would instead say something like "Could you please give me that book?" or "Would you mind handing me that book?," etc.

The primary difference to me is that asking for things in question forms sounds much more natural to me. I feel uncomfortable saying things like "みずをおねがいします。" regardless of whether or not this is considered perfectly polite in Japanese. I would just prefer another polite way to ask for things.

Could someone give me Japanese sentence patterns similar to:
"Could you please ____?"
"Would you mind ____?"
"Could I have you ____, please?"
"If it isn't too much trouble, could I get you to ____ for me?"

Thank you.

  • I hope you mean お願いします, because without the す this doesn't make sense. – The Wandering Coder May 11 '15 at 4:23
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    I don't want to use these because they actually sound very rude to me - They're not. The English translations of them sound rude, but these are not rude-sounding in Japanese. To be clear, ~をください is a polite order or request of someone (for your own benefit). Forms like ~いただけませんか (extremely polite) or ~くださいませんか (very polite) could be used for "asking" things of people. (Again, for your own benefit.) – Eric May 11 '15 at 4:23
  • @Eric:That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for. Thanks! @ Wandering Coder: Yeah, that's what I meant. Just a typo. I corrected it. Thanks. – Ben May 11 '15 at 4:43
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Even though Eric says it is not rude to use ください is japanese, based on your question, you are looking for a softer way to ask/request things.

・ください is like a formal and cold please but can be a bit straight sometimes. You can use it when you are the customer or the supervisor. Otherwise, to avoid this straightness, the sentence is often turned the other way around asking for the permission of your interlocutor.

  • If you want to do something: verb-させてください。
  • If you want something:何かを頂いてもいいですか。or 何かを頂けませんか。
  • If you want someone to do something:あれをやって頂けませんか。etc.

Finally, Give me that book, please would be "その本を渡して頂けませんか。".

ps: there is a million ways to ask stuff like this so I would recommend to pick something you like first and watch what people around you use to learn new ones.

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    I think the main idea in the link is that you should write it in kana if it's used as a subsidiary (補助動詞) and kanji otherwise. But I think people don't always follow this rule and the meaning doesn't really change if they don't―it's still the same word either way. So there are examples like in this question where people use both spellings for the subsidiary use in the same sentence! You can call it bad form, but I think it's clear that the meaning doesn't really change in that case. – snailboat May 11 '15 at 6:18
  • @snailboat it is always the same. Some people do not care but that can really affect people who does so never a 損 to do it right. – oldergod May 11 '15 at 6:22
  • @oldergod, Thanks for your answer. It's very helpful. – Ben May 11 '15 at 7:19
  • Somehow, I think 渡していただけませんか is more like "Would you kindly hand it over please?", i.e. sarcastic... – Zhen Lin May 11 '15 at 7:36
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    @ZhenLin Thank god sarcasm is not a thing in Japan then. – oldergod May 11 '15 at 7:39

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