Reading a lesson on 国語文法.com, I'm having difficulty telling 意志 from 勧誘.

E.g. 「今度こそ成績をあげよう。」 is stated is that of volition (意志). However, why can't it be "(I suggest you to) improve your grades!"?

Or the following example/exercise sentence: 彼の業績は評価しよう - is that the speaker's intention to evaluate 3rd party performance, or a suggestion to 2nd party to do that?

Or an image like this, is it the speaker's (猫さん's) intention or suggestion for the reader (a motivational image)?

enter image description here

  • 1
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    – user1478
    May 15, 2015 at 15:07
  • Is "suggestion" your own translation of 「勧誘」?
    – user4032
    May 15, 2015 at 15:24
  • Well, I just picked one out of many possible synonyms (?). Solicitation, invitation, inducement, persuasion... Not sure which is more appropriate (my sense of nuance in Japanese is lacking) so I just picked one. One word for 勧誘 as in "making the 2nd party do something through suggestion"? Would "suggestion" be inappropriate here?
    – user9771
    May 15, 2015 at 15:45
  • The meaning of "suggestion" may surely be included in 「勧誘」, but it would be a little weak to be called a synonym. "Invitation" would be closest, followed by "solicitation", IMHO.
    – user4032
    May 16, 2015 at 0:02
  • The example of the picture of a cat is ambiguous, and how to distinguish depends on contexts.
    – user4092
    May 16, 2015 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


It might be easier to visualize this as the ambiguity of me/us, rather than a clear distinction between volition/suggestion.

When one says 成績を上げよう, it may seem to an English brain that it is either “Let me improve my grades” or “Let us improve our grades”. In fact, the mental image in my Japanese brain is more like “Let it be that grades are improved”. There is an inherent fuzziness to the me/us. In this case I might even say the me/us is nonexistent.

In the example 山を見よう, it is like “Let [me/us] look at the mountain”, where [me/us] is a single ambiguous clump that isn't actually teased apart at the point of speaking nor receiving. It safely remains as a clump, until called upon to provide a clear English translation.

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