I am confused with verbs using Shimashou. At first I thought it meant to do something together (Let's do x...) because in most of the examples I heard that was the case. 食べましょう。/ 歩きましょう。 Then I started to see several sentences where it was used, but it meant I will do something. Two examples would be:


How can I tell the difference? I will do/we will do?

  • When you exclaim "ok, let's add some salt to the soup" even though you use "let us" form, you don't expect every single person at the table to take a pinch and add it, do you?
    – macraf
    Aug 2 '16 at 1:59
  • So it's figurative? Is it like saying shall we? In the first sentence would it be like: "let's show you around the city". The translation is "I will show you around the city"? But why not just use: 市内はぐるっと案内します Aug 2 '16 at 3:05
  • I'm not sure it's figurative and I don't think it corresponds to "shall we", but the "show around" example seems exact. In English you can say either, depending on the situation, familiarity with the person, etc. Why do you expect Japanese to be more rigid and have only one proper form?
    – macraf
    Aug 2 '16 at 3:39
  • I learned Sorry, but I have asked several Japanese speakers for help on this and a few of them have said it is completely wrong when the Aug 2 '16 at 4:15
  • ...completely wrong when the?
    – macraf
    Aug 2 '16 at 4:19

The ましょう ending of verbs indicate they're conjugated in volitional-form which is a form that implies the will or intention of the speaker to do something, although this is commonly translated as "let's..." it is not the correct translation for all cases. We can see for example:


Translation 1: Let's begin the exposition.

Translation 2: I'll begin the exposition (now).

Here we see that there are more than one possible translation depending on the context of the sentence. In 1 the speaker was probably among his colleagues and told them to begin the exposition. In 2 the speaker stated what he was about to do (stressing his will to do so).

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