This has mostly to do with me not understanding Keigo well, so when I enter restaurants or other service-based businesses, and they talk in Keigo to me, I hardly ever understand, which is why I always struggle my away around the convos somehow.

So, would it be rude to ask the staff, which actually has to talk in Keigo to you, to change to Teineigo, so I understand?

And to further generalize: Is it even ok to ask the conversation partner to change the speaking form he's using?


3 Answers 3


Asking someone to speak in plain Japanese is not rude if it's done nicely. However, asking someone to speak in Teineigo seems strange, I would say. Because it sounds like a challenge.

Keigo(敬語) is composed of Sonkeigo(尊敬語), Kenjogo(謙譲語) and Teineigo(丁寧語). So, a Teineigo-only conversation sounds like a sorting Keigo quiz or something.

How about asking them like this?




These sentences are polite and don't specify what kind of speech to use. So they might reply in plain casual Japanese, or probably in very simple Keigo.

I think they, waiters/waitresses or some other kind of staff, want to communicate with you to do their jobs. It's nice to tell them that you know basic Japanese words by asking them to speak in plain Japanese. I guess that they will be happy to use simple Japanese phrases for you, because it's much easier for them to speak Japanese than to speak other languages such as English, Chinese, French, etc.


It is not rude if you explain why you want them to speak casually.


Basically, as nominozomy-san said, it's not rude, because most Japanese people will understand such a situation. I think the situation in other countries is the same. I'm Japanese, but Teinei-go has proved difficult for me to master. So, please don't be concerned over it. It is important for you to continue your studies (speaking Japanese and so on) and not to be afraid to do so. And if you keep on using Teinei-go, you will build up your skill gradually.

Hope this helps

  • @oals I think he meant something like this (see my addition to your edit).
    – Earthliŋ
    Oct 1, 2015 at 10:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .