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First, I would like to let you know that I'm aware of a few topics already made regarding "try" here:

Saying "try" in Japanese

Different ways to "try"

But after reading those topics, I still feel unsure, therefore I write this question...

This is about when you go to Japanese Electronic Store or something similar, and you want to buy the appliance (in this case a hair straightener). Before you pick the item and go home, you want to make sure that it functions well... So we'd like to say "Can I test it?" (to see if it's not broken)

I come up with a few sentences... But I'm unsure if these are correct...

  1. ためしてください (I want to test it)

  2. ためしてみたい、いいですか? (I want to try testing it, is it okay?)

  3. 使ってみたい、いいですか?(I want to try using it, is it okay?)

It's written in dictionary that ためして is to test, but I read in some comments that ためして is very rarely used in common daily life. And when it's used, it's being used for something serious like to test a new government law or something... Is this right?

Could you help to explain what is the best sentence to use in daily life for this situation? Thank you so much in advance :)

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Well, to be honest, I never thought of testing an electronic device to see if it works or not before buying it in Japan unless it's secondhand or has known compatibility issues, and I don't know if every salesclerk is ready for it, but...

The best way to ask for it is:

動くかどうか試してみていいですか? Is it okay to test if it works?
動くか(どうか)確かめてみていいですか? Is it okay to confirm if it works?

or, if you want them to test:

動くかどうか試してもらえますか? Can you test if it works?
動くか(どうか)確かめて(みて)もらえますか? Can you confirm if it works?

Your

  1. ためしてください
    isn't "I want to test it", but "Please test it".

  2. ためしてみたい、いいですか?
    and...

  3. 使ってみたい、いいですか?
    are good in word choice, but grammatically sound a bit doge speak ("want test okay?"). You can say ためしてみたいのですがいいですか? or 使ってみたいのですがいいですか? to combine them. Note that 使う often implies you apply it to real use case, that is, if it's a hair straightener, you test it with your hair.

...I read in some comments that ためして is very rarely used in common daily life. And when it's used, it's being used for something serious like to test a new government law or something... Is this right?

It depends. If the word means "test somebody's ability", it sounds quite bookish, but used in "try using something" or "try out something", it is a daily language (and common around me).

  • Thank you very much for your thorough explanations!___I see... it seems it's not common to test a product before buying...___ In my country, it's very usual to test a product before proceed to buy it___Anyway, thank you very much for your explanations, i'll be sure to use them the next time i want to buy something. – Alice28 Mar 9 '16 at 8:28
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試【ため】す and 試してみる are both fine in this context.

「試してください」 and 「試してみてください」 are inappropriate because they mean "Please try it."

「ためしてみたい、いいですか?」 makes sense, but this sentence is an unnatural mixture of non-polite and polite expressions. Try one of these instead:

  • 試してみたいのですが、いいですか?
  • 試してみてもいいですか?
  • 試してもいいですか?
  • 試していいですか?

Longer ones are closer to "Do you mind if I tried it?" and shorter ones are closer to "Can I try it?" There would be even politer expressions, but I think you can safely use the shortest version in stores.

使ってみて(も)いいですか is also perfectly fine. But if you said 使ってもいいですか, they might gently smile at you saying "Of course, if you buy it."

  • Thank you very much for your thorough explanation~ And yes, you're correct with " they might gently smile at you saying "Of course, if you buy it." haha... _____ The other day when I ask to test it to see if it's work (using hand gesture) since i'm going to buy it, they tell me the exact same thing in English. Then I proceed to pay and test the product, but i want to learn a proper way to say it. Anyway, i really appreciate your answers, thanks :D – Alice28 Mar 9 '16 at 8:20
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If you want to say:

  1. I want to test it.

  2. I want to try testing it, is it okay?

  3. I want to try using it, is it okay?

in Japanese, you can say;

1.(それを)試してみたい。

2.(それを)試してみたいが、いいですか?

3.(それを)使ってみてもいいですか?

試して(見る)is a quite common word to mean to try in such a way as;

動くかどうか、試してみる – to test whether it moves or not.

使えるかどうか、試してみる – to test to ascertain whether the product is usable or not.

商品を試してみる – to test / evaluate a product.

人物を試してみる – test / evaluate a person (on his capability, personality / suitability)

一か八か試してみる – take one’s chances.

As the word to mean both try and use, there is “試用,” which is a noun, and 試用する, a verb. But we rarely use it in spoken form, because it could be confused with ”使用する,” which vocally sounds the same with the latter.

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