I often hear my old calligraphy teacher (and so far only her) use something like the following:



and so on. The question mark in parenthesis indicates that, if I hear the intonation correctly, it seems more like a kind request rather than an imperative. Or at least, kind of in between a request and an order, exactly as the the two forms suggest.

The meaning is quite obvious, I am mostly interested in the following.


How does this differ from simply using ーてもらえる? ーてくれる? or the ーなさい forms alone?

Speech style.

Is it something somewhat old fashioned? I'm asking just because as I mentioned above so far I have only ever heard this from an old lady.

Actual meaning

I find it quite difficult to give a literal translation. Somehow, ーてもらえる? and ーなさい seem almost opposites to me (one a request, one an order). Am I correct in interpreting this as "please do this?", or is there a better way of putting this?

If possible, I would also appreciate a few extra examples of usage.


Reading and thinking on a comment by @By137 I wonder if I misheard all this time and wasn't actually 。。。て御覧{ごらん}なさい. Obviously rather than my poor listening skills I'll say that this is due to my old teacher being very old and speaking in very incomprehensible way... which is false. I'll ask myself next time and eventually edit or close the question, although it could still be a good question for the てもらいなさい form.

  • I thought てもらいなさい meant 'get someone else to do whatever ...'
    – Angelos
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 7:20
  • @AeonAkechi I see the point, it does sound like that thinking about it. However, in my case it's clearly always referred directly to me.
    – Tommy
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 7:23
  • 1
    How's her 活舌? I know an enunciation issue seems way too far-fetched, but given the context it really seems like it should be ごらんなさい
    – By137
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 12:59
  • @By137 no no, she speaks perfectly fine and I have (almost) no doubt that the one I wrote is exactly the expression. Besides, I heard this several times so I think it’s quite impossible I always heard it wrong.
    – Tommy
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 13:08
  • Ha ha, sorry, had to check. But I have a more serious question. What is the particle right before the 書いて and やって?
    – By137
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


~てくれる? Is a (casual) request, but it lacks demand. Which is why it's in a question format. ~てもらいなさい is a demand used when talking to someone of lower status then you. You can hear なさい when parents order their kids to do something. She adds the questioning tone to not have a sense of reprimanding.

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