I've recently started using the expression 頂ければと思います, but I'm not 100% sure about its precise nuance.

Is there any difference in nuance between

  • 頂ければと思います
  • 頂けませんか
  • 頂きたいんですけども?

To my non-native ear, the first feels formal, the second very standard and the third a tad more casual. Apart for the difference in usage that would ensue, is there any difference in directness (in the sense that ~を頂戴 is more direct than ~を下さい)?

  • 5
    When I hear/read ~~頂ければと思います, I think like "I don't have to respond to this." or "I don't have to do it if I don't want to". When I someone says to me 頂けませんか/頂きたいんですけど, I'll probably think I have to do it, or I have to respond to it at least.
    – user1016
    Dec 8, 2012 at 12:30
  • I think you have slightly complicated the question as to which is more polite by taking 頂きたいんですけども:I don't think it is wrong but 頂きたいんですが seems more comparable to 頂けませんか
    – Tim
    Dec 10, 2012 at 11:56
  • @Tim Hm... I could add 頂きたいんですが to the list, but I don't see how けども complicates the question. Would you mind explaining why you think ですが is more comparable than ですけども?
    – Earthliŋ
    Dec 10, 2012 at 12:03

3 Answers 3

  • ~て頂ければと思います comes from something like -te itadakereba (saiwai) to omoimasu (as far as I know). It's most certainly polite, but it does have an ellipsis in the middle, and that's not good, usually, in terms of politeness. It means "If you could just do~ (I would be glad/you would save me/etc.)"... so you're asking for a favor, but you don't really think the listener will say "no" as a reply.
  • ~て頂けませんか is (the most) polite and formal. It's still a real question, and this is really important, specially in terms of politeness.
  • ~て頂きたいんですけども isn't a question and you have "n-desu kedo", explicative form, plus a contraction (that I really don't like because of gaaru's way of speaking... but this is a matter of personal preference). At least I would use ...keredomo.

I'd use the first one with a coworker, the second one even with my boss, the third one in different occasions (when I want to be polite, but not particularly formal). At least this is the way I've always looked at these expressions. I hope it helps.

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    I do not agree that ~していただけませんか is more polite than ~していただければと思います. There are different factors, but the former is more direct as a request, which is a factor to make it less polite. Dec 12, 2012 at 20:23
  • If there wasn't an ellipsis in ~て頂ければと思います I would have said the same, but I read someone saying he wouldn't use it with someone who's not 部内. So I've always assumed -te itadakemasen ka was more polite, but I see your point. Thank you for letting me know. Dec 12, 2012 at 21:40
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    I feel those expressions are not just questions but actually demanding something very strongly, especially with 頂けませんか ending. I feel this 頂けませんか implies "otherwise you are bound to some sort of penalty".
    – jj1bdx
    Jan 9, 2013 at 9:12

Chocolate's comment and Kokoroatari's answer explains most things.

I think the etymology itself might explain something.

I would (appreciate it) if you could ...

れば sounds like a wish and can be used as a real wish rather than an indirect request. e.g. 直ぐにまたお会いできればと思います / せめてみんながこれを信じることができれば.

Could you ...

ませんか is an explicit request, just softer than imperatives

I wish you would ... (Could you ...)

~たいのですが is almost always followed by an explicit request, but it's omitted so that it sounds a little softer and you expect the listener will understand what you actually want to say.

I will rank the “directness” as: 頂ければと思います < 頂きたいんですが < 頂けませんか

けれども, けども, けれど and けど are much more causal than が. けども is more masculine, けれど is more feminine, けれども and けど are neuter. が is the most common choice when you are using keigo.



頂けませんか > 頂ければと思います > 頂きたいんですけども? > 頂ければ幸いです

euphemistic expression seems correlate to politeness.

  • Thank you for your answer. Unfortunately, I don't quite understand it, yet. What do you mean by "euphemistic expression seems correlate to politeness"? Which do you consider the most polite?
    – Earthliŋ
    May 10, 2014 at 15:34
  • 頂ければ幸いです is less straight and the same time more euphemistic. So, this is the politest.
    – shogochiai
    May 11, 2014 at 10:30
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    明日の予定を空けておいてください euphemistize.... 明日の予定を空けておいて頂ければ幸いなのですが、もしご都合がよろしければお手すきの際に日程の打ち合わせなどさせていただければと存じております。 This is not joke, really polite :)
    – shogochiai
    May 11, 2014 at 10:34
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    I'll compare "やれ!", "頂けませんか", and "頂ければ幸いです". "やれ!" is just a order. There is no politeness and so straight. "頂けませんか" is more euphemistic. "頂く"'s form is polite. And "ませんか" is question. If you couldn't do that, you have not to do that. There is a little care for your circumstance. "頂ければ幸いです" is already not a order or question. This is just say ones thought. "If you do that, I'm happy." If you say this, you rely on spontaneousness. And this euphemism is the base of politeness I think.
    – shogochiai
    Aug 17, 2014 at 15:19

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