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For example: "If you want to practice English, feel free/you are welcome to message me". How do you carry the nuance of "you are welcome to but don't feel obliged?" If I said 英語を練習したいならメッセージしてください that would, to my mind, sound too direct and commanding. But I'm not sure how to make it sound softer.

Edit: As Felipe correctly guessed, the context of use is for HelloTalk, for people I don't know well or strangers.

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    「したいなら」is so "plain" it would sound fairly condescending unless the other person was much younger than yourself. If you provided more information on the relationship between you and the other person regarding ages, genders, social standings, etc., that would help you receive MUCH better answers. One more thing, you should also tell us if the other person has already asked you for help with English. – l'électeur Jan 7 at 14:33
4

If you want to invite someone to do something politely, you can say ~しませんか? For example, 一緒に英語を勉強しませんか?、一緒にご飯を食べませんか?

If I were to change your example to a very polite form, I would say もし英語を練習なさりたいなら、メッセージしていただけませんか?

I found an interesting page about expressions of request in Japanese. I hope this helps you. http://web.ydu.edu.tw/~uchiyama/conv/kaiwa_n8.htm

4

(お)気軽に is a very handy word that conveys the nuance of "feel free to ~" or "take it easy and ~". Adding お make it sound politer. As an aside, メッセージする as a suru-verb sounds a little unnatural (or at least a little too colloquial) to me.

Example:

英語を練習したいときは気軽にメッセージをください。

  • Is it polite to end a message with ください?:) – Lou Jan 9 at 17:24
  • @Lou It's usually polite enough in an online chat service. – naruto Jan 10 at 1:34
0

I've been using Hello Talk for over two years, most people that started a conversation with me, said something along the lines of:

こんにちは、XXといいます。よかったら、英語を教えてくれませんか?
Hello, my name is XX. If it's ok for you, can you teach me english? (ofc you'd switch for japanese here)

But that's more if you are asking for help, in your case sounds like you are rather offering help or wanting to exchange both languages "equally" right?

In that case I would say:

こんにちは、XXといいます。一緒に英語と日本語勉強しませんか?よろしくお願いします!
Hello, my name is XX. Let's study english and japanese together? Please accept me as your language partner! (It maybe sounds a bit blunt when you translate to english, but I think it's totally ok in japanese!)

Edit: As pointed by Eric, in case you already know the person and just want them to feel free to contact/message you:

英語を練習したいときに、連絡/メッセージしてくださいね。
Please feel free to contact/message me, when you feel like practicing english.

英語を練習したかったら、いつでも連絡してくださいね。
Please fell free to contact me whenever you feel like practicing english.

Here, I believe the softens the "request" while still being polite.

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    hmm. somehow I got the impression from the question that this was not a random "invite anyone" sort of thing, but that Lou was specifically asking how to invite someone that they know... if only because you would never ask someone you'd never met before to message you... – ericfromabeno Jan 7 at 13:41
  • if that's the case, then your answer would be more fitting, it all depends on the context haha as always – Felipe Oliveira Jan 7 at 13:44
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    「したかったら」is not polite at all. – l'électeur Jan 7 at 14:35
  • @l'électeur in that case, my answer might not be the best fit. Tbh, i'm not so sure how to make that part of the sentence more polite, I thought 「ください」was enough. – Felipe Oliveira Jan 7 at 14:55
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I would use メッセージしていいよ。 Literally, "it's alright/okay to message me."

There are a lot of ways to invite, using different levels of formality, but I think していい(よ) is the most simple, and common.

you could also insert phrases like "any time you like", two common variants being いつでもいい or 自由{じゆう}に

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    But they asked how to do so politely. Your example is neither polite nor formal. – snailboat Jan 7 at 13:59
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    I think in this question's case, "polite" was meant in the English sense, as in "not rude or strange", rather than in the Japanese sense of "properly formal". My resultant suggestion was casual but not rude. – ericfromabeno Jan 7 at 15:05

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