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Isn't 取る means to pick up?, so you are literally saying "pick that salt", so how would you say when you want someone to pick up something instead of passing it to you?

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2 Answers 2

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Why “pass me the salt” is しおを取って instead of しおをわたして

Isn't 取る means to pick up?, so you are literally saying "pick that salt", so how would you say when you want someone to pick up something instead of passing it to you?

取る indeed means 'pick up', but
取って seems to have become to mean "pick it up for me (and hand it to me)."

渡す{わたす} doesn't have the sense of picking up, and we Japanese want the sense of picking up for me when we ask someone to pass us the salt at the table.

At the table, if we need to tell someone, casually, to pick up the salt, we will probably say お塩かけたら? Now our concern is for the listener to use the salt for themselves and not if they pick it up or not.

Yes, I find the thing is that 取って, やって, して are to ask someone to do something for me/us.

When it's not for me/us, and for the listener's sake, it's an advice, and we say it differently; 取ったら, やったら, したら, etc.


Conclusion: 渡して says "pass it for me" and not "pass it to me"; it's asking to pass something to (someone) for me. So, if you say そのお塩を私に渡して, it'll be understood, but we still don't say it this way. We say (その)お塩を(私に)ちょうだい/取って/取ってちょうだい etc.

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Good observation. You point out a difference between English and Japanese, but to Japanese the act of passing something can be made more indirect by asking to 'take' instead of 'pass' it. The request to pass something is well understood when you say 「塩を取ってください」

If you want to ask someone to pick something up, you can say 「XXXを手で持ってください」or 「手で掴んで(動詞:つかむ)ください」

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  • So it's incorrect しおをわたしてください ? Jul 29, 2017 at 19:48
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    it's not incorrect, but using 取ってis more natural in Japanese.
    – Austin
    Jul 29, 2017 at 19:51

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