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I know のみましょう but I was wondering if the above was legal japanese as well.

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    Legal Japanese? Probably a lawyer will not use informal phrases like this in a court. May 5 '12 at 1:39
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    @TsuyoshiIto: I think they meant "legal" as "grammatical", not related to law.
    – istrasci
    May 5 '12 at 2:30
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    飲んでましょう is not grammatical.
    – user1016
    May 7 '12 at 8:46
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    @Chocolate: So all these people above and below you are wrong?
    – dotnetN00b
    May 7 '12 at 13:23
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    Correctly it should be 飲んでいましょう. If you wrote 飲んでましょう in an essay at school you'd get it corrected, that would be too sloppy. We might pronounce it that way when we talk very casually and quickly, but that's not how we're supposed to 'write' at least.
    – user1016
    May 7 '12 at 13:41
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When in doubt, as someone Japanese, or else search for the exact word or phrase to see if it appears in Japanese blogs, forum discussions, online publications or other material.

There are a million hits for 飲んでましょう, in quotes, and 0.8 million more for 飲んでいましょう. So the evidence points to the answer that it is "valid" in the sense that it is in reasonably wide use by the people.

Reading some of these, it is difficult to see if there is any difference in meaning or distinguishing usage.

You would think that the progressive + volitional form would emphasize the ongoing activity. Let's do this, and keep going: let's be doing this.

This is making me curious.

A good pair to research may be 遊んで(い)ましょう vs. 遊びましょう. This would reveal if one is a preferred way to say "let's play regularly" versus "let's play now". I'm thinking that people would express this more often than "let's drink all the time". :)


Update from asking Japanese speaker, shedding some additional light.

This progressive volitional is appropriate if the activity is already going on. If people are already drinking (飲んでいる) then it makes for one of them to say もっと飲んでいましょう (let's drink more; let's keep drinking).

This applies to -たい (want to do).

今「遊んでいる」、だから 「もっと遊んでたい。/もっと遊んでいましょう。」

今「遊んでない」、だから 「遊びたい。/遊びましょう。」

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    google hits are extremely deceiving
    – yadokari
    May 5 '12 at 3:53
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    i searched 飲んでましょう in quotes and after i went through the pages i don't think there were more than 300 examples of this word being used.
    – yadokari
    May 5 '12 at 21:55
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    okay. so i guess for the only relevant info to glean from google search numbers if it is 0 or very few, it probably doesn't exist.
    – yadokari
    May 6 '12 at 1:39
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    You are right that ~ていましょう sometimes has a meaning of “keep doing,” but (1) I do not think that 飲んでましょう means it in the typical context where this expression is used, and (2) もっと遊んでいましょう sounds unnatural to me, probably because the subject cannot be already doing “もっと遊んでいる” (that would contradict the meaning of もっと). May 10 '12 at 10:11
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飲んでましょう is a colloquial form for 飲んでいましょう. In general, abbreviating ~ている to ~てる is common in colloquial speech. Whether you count colloquial expressions as “legal” or not is up to you.

Now what is the difference between 飲んで(い)ましょう and 飲みましょう? As I understand it, the former implies that the suggested action of drinking is temporary.

I think that 飲んで(い)ましょう is typically used in the following context. A group of people decided to go out for a dinner (more precisely 飲み会, but I cannot explain it well in English…). Most of them have arrived at a restaurant, but not all of them. Then the organizer (幹事) says something like:

山田さんがまだ来てないけど、先に飲んでましょう。 Mr. Yamada is not here yet, but let’s start drinking.

Here the organizer says 先に飲んで(い)ましょう instead of 先に飲みましょう because the situation of 先に飲む (drink before something, here drink before Mr. Yamada comes) is supposed to be temporary, because people expect that Mr. Yamada will arrive soon.

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    I feel like it has the sense of 飲んで待ちましょう, but I can't tell why.
    – Jesse Good
    May 11 '12 at 5:20
  • @Jesse: Well, it is because ~て(い)ましょう means temporariness, as I explained in this answer…. May 11 '12 at 11:49
  • I am confused to how the progressive ている implies temporariness. "progressive" and "temporary" seem to be conflicting ideas.
    – Flaw
    Nov 18 '12 at 12:44
  • @Flaw: I do not know why ~ている can mean a temporary action. But just to note, the progressive form in English is also sometimes used to express temporariness as in “I am living in Tokyo now.” Dec 20 '12 at 22:54

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