Through this question I want to understand exactly how ぜひ is used adverbially.

My problem is that ぜひ is not behaving as I expect it to be. It appears that the English translation does not reflect its correct usage:

ぜひ: "certainly, without fail, right and wrong, pros and cons"

I take "certainly" and "without fail" to be its adverbial use.

I observe that:

  1. These sentences do not appear to me to have the sense of "certainly" and "without fail". E.g.,

    ぜひおいでください。 "We'd like you to come."

    ぜひお試しを。 "Please try our products"

    I would (poorly) interpret them as follows instead:

    "Please come without fail"

    "Try without fail"

    There seems to be some intermediate step that causes "without fail" to soften and become part of a request (the actual requesting should be from a ~てください or an implicit one).

  2. In English, "~ certainly is ~" and "to without fail be ~" and "~ without fail will be ~" are possible sentences. However, what I would expect to be the equivalent in Japanese - ぜひ~だ is ungrammatical. I seem to be misunderstanding something very important about the usage of ぜひ and I can't figure it out.

  3. From sawa's comments in "How are で and ばかりused in this expression?",

    • 是非 is an adverb expressing the first person's expectation, and has to concord with a predicate that expresses such meaning. Your first sentence with 是非 without 願う is ungrammatical.

    • Because just a copula is an assertion. There is no room for the first person's expectation to come in.

    I've been meditating on those 2 points and I guess I just don't get it. It should be because I do not understand the usage of ぜひ. In what way does ぜひ exhibit expectation?

So please tell me what have I understood wrongly.

  • 1
    When in doubt, check another dictionary: see sense 2 listed here.
    – Zhen Lin
    Jan 4, 2012 at 12:20

2 Answers 2

  1. ぜひ does not only mean "certainly", "without fail". It has the meaning of "expressing the first person's expectation, and has to concord with a predicate that expresses such meaning" (thank to @sawa) or in a short way, "please" (thanks to @Williham).

  2. English and Japanese are two different languages, sentence structure that works in one language may not work in the other. And you can never do translation using word replacement, like from "~ certainly is ~" to "ぜひ ~ だ". There's seldom a word pair that can be translated in his way.

In all, ぜひ is not an equivalent of "certainly" or "without fail". It also has other meanings (like "please"), and not every "certainly" or "without fail" (or "please") in English can be translated to "ぜひ".

I will try to translate the explanation of the adverbial ぜひ given by 大辞泉:

1 どんな困難も乗り越えて実行しようとするさま。どうあっても。きっと。
Try to carry out an act/accomplish a task whatever difficult is met.
(May be "without fail")

2 心をこめて、強く願うさま。なにとぞ。
Ask full heartedly.

3 ある条件のもとでは必ずそうなると判断できるさま。必ず。きまって。
Under a certain condition (we) can judge that a certain result can be got.



Using kanji(是非) to mean 'please' seems fine to me, like '是非お越しください'/'是非お試しを'.


  • I think you probably meant to write that as a comment. Jan 4, 2012 at 13:47
  • 1
    Yes...I'm new here and don't know how to post a comment... Sorry.
    – user1016
    Jan 4, 2012 at 14:04
  • 2
    You need 50 rep to write a comment on someone else's question/answer
    – fefe
    Jan 4, 2012 at 14:36
  • 1
    Oh I see...Thanks. Oh now I have 49 lol!
    – user1016
    Jan 4, 2012 at 14:55

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