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When asking someone else to do a favour, one would append ください or くれる. For example, 手伝ってください or 手伝ってくれる to either mean "please help me" in the former case and "can you help me" in the latter case. What if I were to say 手伝ってくれていい, would this mean exactly the same as 手伝ってくれる? Or does no one actually say it like this? Also, is the difference between 手伝ってください and 手伝ってくれる, only being that the former is taking a stronger stance in asking someone (for a favor) to help, whilst the latter a lighter stance, such that it isn't really forcing but merely asking in a light tone?

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手伝ってください is a kinda straightforward "Help me please". てください is a polite imperative so like with every imperativ you don't really give the other person a choice (In a grammatical sense). Same with 手伝ってくれ(よ) which is the plain imperativ which sound like a "Cmon, please help me" or 手伝いなさい as "Help me (now)!" (Of course depending on the context)

Politer ways to ask for something would be 手伝ってくれる(?) and 手伝ってもらっていい? Both give the other person a choice and therefore sound nice. They are on the same politeness level, but people have personal tendencies. Some examples:

...
A: 明日なら一緒に勉強していいよ
B:本当に手伝ってくれる?ありがとう!

or

A:ちょっと説明してもらっていい?
B:明日なら一緒に勉強していいよ

As mentioned by other people the いい wouldn't work out with the てくれる so you would have to combine it with もらう.

  • Thanks for the answer. So what would the くれていい? mean? Or is it just simply that no one uses it like that – Newbie Aug 14 at 22:21
  • @Newbie I'd say you normally don't use it, don't quote me on that though. I tried googling it because it kinda got me interested. The only thing useful I found was some blog post from a wife who wrote about her husband using「〇〇してくれてもいいよ」when asking for things and she didn't really like this phrase. beat-talk.seesaa.net/article/406214784.html – user11382889 2 days ago
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You probably mean spoken language or "cartoon Japanese", as using くれる to end a question would (if writing) need a question mark afterwards. (And this is of course an indication that is is not formal and belongs more to something like cartoons).

One advice to you: Just don't use the structure "手伝ってくれる?", unless you know what you are doing.

手伝ってくれる? is not about "taking a lighter stance", if having to choose, it could be thought of as the opposite, and also be rude depending on the situation.

One might use it in situations where one in a way "has the right to assume" that the person will do as you request. For example, at work, the boss might use "手伝ってくれる?" when asking his/her subordinate to help. On the countrary, if you would use that to ask your boss to help, you might soon need to find yourself a new boss (=get fired)

The "手伝ってくれていい" is something you would not say, as the "いい?" would require "the opposite direction" ie あげていい? would work. (Sorry for lousy explanation, but while I am bad at using the search function, I am quite sure it has been answered somewhere on this forum already.)

  • Isn't 手伝ってくれていい? almost the same as 手伝ってくれる? in such that it translates to can you please help me? 手伝って あげていい? would (I think) most probably mean can I help you? Or am I again confused at the くれる and あげる usages? – Newbie Aug 13 at 9:31
  • How is 〜てくれる "cartoon Japanese"? – Leebo Aug 13 at 10:47
  • @Leebo maybe I didn't choose my words well, but I meant that, since in "grammatically correct written Japanese" one does not use a "?", and, while, in spoken language, 〜てくれる would be understood as a question if the intonation and/or the context suggests this, but in written language, writing that without the "?" in a case where it clearly is (and the context would suggest it is) a question, it would look awkward. And, when writing the text on cartoons, one often takes more freedom, ie uses ? when needed (as would in the above example be). – Tuomo Aug 13 at 11:34
  • @Newbie No, a sentence with a meaning similar to saying "手伝ってくれる?" would be "手伝ってもらって(も)いい?" – Tuomo Aug 13 at 11:36
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    Question marks may not be necessary in Japanese, but they're common, and I don't believe they're informal. – Aeon Akechi Aug 13 at 11:47

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