Couple of days back, I was at Japanese class and 先生 wanted us to return the printouts he handed us earlier. 先生 used the sentence 「プリントを出します」instead of 「プリントを出して」. Some other examples I have seen are:

  1. 関係者は出社したことを確認します - Related party, please confirm attendance
  2. 出社したら、自分で「出社しました!」メールを送る - When you arrive, send a mail stating you have arrived

These examples are requests to other parties to do something. From what I understand, to make requests, one should use the て- form of verbs. The example sentences uses the ます/る form in making requests. Is this even possible? If I am not mistaken, using the ます/る forms of verbs implies (first person) will do (verb), for example: リンゴを食べます means (I) will eat the apple, and not please eat the apple. And if it possible to use ます/る to make requests, how can I differentiate (other then by context) whether it is a request or whether it is what someone will doて

1 Answer 1


Dictionary-form and masu-form are common in product documentations and how-to type sentences (e.g., 扉を開けるにはこのボタンを押す/押します), which explains why 出社したらメールを送る is fine. But it doesn't work as an immediate request/order. Ordinary Japanese speakers don't say プリントを出します in the context in question.

Is this 先生 a professional Japanese teacher who teaches both beginners and advanced learners? I have heard that at the initial stage of teaching Japanese, student do not even know imperative forms, so it's common for a teacher to say 教科書を開きます to beginners when 教科書を開いてください is normally appropriate.

Sometimes plain dictionary form is used to make a quick and strong order (e.g., 立つ! ~しない!), but this doesn't apply for masu-form. See: Plain form as imperative

Also note that te-form as a request sounds fairly colloquial. If your teacher generally uses ます/です during lessons, プリントを出して would sound out of place.

  • Is it safe to assume that using ます/ dictionary forms would only be used in situations where the request is not immediate, whereas in using the て form, the request "can be" or "may not be" immediate? For eg: 出社したらメールを送って would be alright but プリントを出します would sounds weird unless the one saying the sentence is trying to imply that the print is to be handed in later in the near future. Addendum: Yes, the 先生 I was referring to is a native Japanese
    – Newbie
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 5:46
  • @Newbie Something like ボタンを押します or メールを送る is not even a request but a plain description of a rule, a procedure, etc. Of course there are one-time but non-immediate requests, in which case you can use te-form (e.g., 来週遊びに来て).
    – naruto
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 6:13
  • When I first read 出社したらメールを送る , it gave me (the reader) an impression that the person who wrote this is requesting/telling me to send an e-mail upon arriving (Almost feels like a very vague request). Your explanation (it being a procedure/rule, rather then a direct request) helped clear up my misunderstanding, so I have accepted this answer
    – Newbie
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 6:28

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