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Shinkansen chair can be rotated. The case is when you need to rotate it and you need someone (stranger) to stand up on their chair so you can rotate yours... Is this a proper way to ask it?

First, asking them to stand for a moment...

すみませんが、ちょっと立ってくださいますか?

The confusing part is telling the reason... The message was "I want to rotate the chair" This is what I though of below...

椅子を回りたいです 

But when I check on google translate, it says...

椅子を回転させたいです

Please help to explain the difference and what would be a proper way to say for this case.

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"回る" is an intransitive verb, and therefore not appropriate the way you are trying to phrase it.

In Japanese, sometimes there are two types of the same verb often referred to as transitive and intransitive verbs. The difference between the two is that one verb is an action done by an active agent while the other is something that occurs without a direct agent.

So you can say, "椅子が回る" to describe the seat turning, but not turning it. If you had said "椅子を回る", it would rather mean "go around the chair", but that is a different story.

"回す" is the transitive counterpart to "回る". "回す" takes the particle "を". You can phrase it in the following way:

椅子を回したいです


"させる" is a causative verb, which can essentially mean "make" or "let" someone/something do something.

Verbs conjugated into the causative form are used to indicate an action that someone makes happen.

"回転する" would be what the seat is doing, while "回転させる" would be what you are doing to the seat, or making it do.


Lastly, I would prefer to phrase the request as following:

すみません、ちょっと立っていただけませんか?

The why is mostly preference, but "ください", albeit humble, is imperative. Using potential form is also a pretty standard and soft way of requesting something. You can make it even less direct by using phrasings suggested by nodakai and Shoko.

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    普通は、「立っていただけませんか」「立ってくださいますか」などの直接的表現は避けて、「すみません、椅子を回したいんですけど、いいですか?」「すみません、椅子を回してもいいですか?」などと言うと思います。 – Chocolate Mar 15 '16 at 9:59
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    If you guys try to be that polite, then すみません、ちょっと椅子を動かしたいんですけど… (ending the sentence without a direct request) would be the best. What do we mean by ちょっと here? 10 degrees? Of course not, but don't ask me :-) – nodakai Mar 15 '16 at 19:05
  • @nodakai ちょっと, the way it is used is an interesting topic in itself – Amani Kilumanga Mar 16 '16 at 3:19
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すみません、椅子を回したいんですけど、いいですか?
すみません、椅子を回‌​してもいいですか?
すみません、椅子を回したいんですけど…。(cutting off the sentence as suggested by @nodakai)

would be fine.

I think we also commonly say:

すみません、椅子/[座席]{ざせき}の向きを変えてもいいですか?
すみません、椅子/座席の向きを変えたいんですけど、いいですか?
すみません、椅子/座席の向きを変えたいんですが、いいですか?
すみません、椅子/座席の向きを変えたいんですけど…。
すみません、椅子/座席の向きを変えたいんですが…。

I don't think we'd say 「すみませんが、ちょっと立ってくださいますか?」 or 「すみませんが、ちょっと立っていただけませんか?」 in your situation; I think it'd sound a bit too direct and impolite to say to someone you don't know.

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    What's the reason for the downvote? – Chocolate Mar 16 '16 at 7:38
  • I'd like to upvote your answer thousands of times. This is way more natural way to ask someone for permission to rotate the seat at trains. – Wataru 'Watson' Subridge Mar 11 '17 at 6:42

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