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この部屋は図書室です。本やCDを借りたり、宿題をしたり出来ます。日本語の本が2000冊あります。外国語の本は1000冊あります。CDは500枚あります。CDを聞くときはヘッドホンをしましょう。友達と話すときは小さい声で話すようにしましょう

Why do we have to use the ~ましょう form here instead of just using the ~ます form? If I understand everything correctly than ヘッドホンをしましょう means "Let's put on the headphones." or "I will put on the headphones". But here we want to say "When I listen to the CD I put on my headphones", so why using ~ましょう?

Also I don't really get the 話すようにしましょう construction here. How can I translate this properly?

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    No, we really want to say "let's put on the headphones". Consider the case where you speak to children and say "when we listen to music in the library, let's use our headphones, okay?". It's a proposition, but in reality it's soft/polite/indirect command. For your second question you want to search ようにする.
    – Simon
    Nov 27, 2021 at 23:27

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If you use ~ます (called スル形 in Japanese linguistics papers), in this context, you'll be stating a fact or describing a situation as opposed to making a suggestion.

CDを聞くときはヘッドホンをします。友達と話すときは小さい声で話すようにします。

Standalone, without more context, this sounds like the speaker is talking about how they do these things: they make sure to put on headphones when listening to music and keep their voice down when they talk to their friends.

Of course you can make that a suggestion without invoking ~しよう(~ましょう):

友達と話すときは小さい声で話してください。

友達と話すときは小さい声で。

友達と話すときは小さい声でお願いします。

友達と話すときは小さい声で話しなさい。

You can use こと to give a command/suggestion if you want to use the verb in スル形, but in doing so you risk sounding a bit bossy and peremptory.

友達と話すときは小さい声で話すことです。

Now, back to your title question,: why is ~ましょう (シヨウ形) used here?

シヨウ形, or volitional form as it's called in Japanese grammar in English, is often used to give instructions by teachers or similar figures of authority. This usage is referred to as 遠回しな命令 (indirect commands) by some Japanese linguists. (See, for example, 山下由美子. "「しよう」「しようか」 の意味・用法: 日本語教育への提案." 創価大学大学院紀要= The bulletin of the Graduate School, Soka University 33 (2011): 299-327.)

A teacher may say to the class: 「みなさん、静かにしましょう」 And this is why the volitional is commonly used by teachers, guardians to give instructions to children/students.

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  • So, ます形 is actually called スル形? Very confusing. Nov 27, 2021 at 23:34
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    @JConstantine スル形 just means する form, and as you know ~します is just the polite form of ~する. I included the name スル形 simply because that's the name many Japanese linguists use to refer to that verb form.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 27, 2021 at 23:38
  • 形 in スル形 is pronounced like けい or かたち? Nov 27, 2021 at 23:45
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    @JConstantine けい
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 27, 2021 at 23:47

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