Questions tagged [formality]

Formal versus informal usage. In Japanese this can include, among other things, different endings and even entirely different words.

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Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません?

Text books normally teach that the negative of です is じゃありません. However it seems very common to hear native Japanese use じゃないです. Is this slang or somehow less correct than じゃありません? Would it be marked ...
Niall Murphy's user avatar
23 votes
6 answers
21k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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22 votes
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How do Japanese speakers transition from polite to plain form amongst friends?

When you first meet somebody, polite language is, on the whole, the most commonly used form of Japanese. Children may differ, and I understand that not everyone will use plain form, but regardless a ...
sqrtbottle's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
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Should I use the formal form (~ます) on the buttons of an app?

I'm an iOS app developer who's learning Japanese. I want to localize my app to Japanese (make a Japanese version of it, basically). For context, my app falls into the "Utilities" category on the app ...
Sweeper's user avatar
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17 votes
5 answers
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Is すごい slang or just informal?

Regarding すごい: What is the right way to spell it? Is it vulgar, or is it slang like the English "cool"?, or informal or colloquial? Is it archaic? If it is slang, does it have a non-slang meaning? If ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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15 votes
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Are 漢語 always more formal than 和語?

It seems that in response to questions regarding the differences between 漢語 and their 和語 equivalents, it is often explained that the 漢語 is "more formal" than the 和語. As a result, I get the feeling ...
rintaun's user avatar
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10 votes
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How would you refer to a married couple if you were familiar with both prior to marriage?

If you had two close seniors or friends that you referred to by last name got married how would you address them? Would you refer to one as their given name, call them both by the shared last name, or ...
maggie's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
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How rude is it to say 寝ぼけてるんじゃねぇよ!

I've heard this used (also as 寝ぼけんじゃねぇよ!) in informal situations with nothing but smiles all around. But when I tried to use it in an informal situation with a colleague, I got the distinct feeling I'...
Robusto's user avatar
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9 votes
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How to situationally respond to 「お元気ですか」?

I'm curious about how native speakers actually respond to the simple question of 「お元気ですか。」 I'm currently going into my third year of studying Japanese. My first-year Japanese professor impressed upon ...
charlieshades's user avatar
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1 answer
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How do you replace 「お悔やみ」 in condolences to a Japanese Christian?

In Yosh's answer to the question What are the ways to express someone's condolences?, this link states that Buddhist terms should not be used in expressing condolences to a Christian in Japanese: ...
seijitsu's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
613 views

How formal is 唯一?

If I wanted to say "She is his only friend" I could say 「彼女だけ(が)彼の友達だ」or 「彼は彼女しか友達がいない」right? What about 「彼女が彼の唯一の友達だ」? How common would that be?
nehry's user avatar
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What is proper letter ending greeting for a letter to a teacher?

In Chinese letter writing there is a phrase "教祺" that can be roughly translated as "good luck in teaching" and is used exclusively in the letter ending greeting. Is there a counterpart in Japanese ...
Sheng Jiang 蒋晟's user avatar
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2 answers
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What are appropriate situations where you use 何卒 to end a formal correspondence?

I've seen some emails ending with 何卒宜しくお願い致します but I was wondering if it just raises the respect/politeness of a letter or does it have specific situations where it should/shouldn't be use? Like when ...
Punong Bisyonaryo's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

Usage of "sensei"/"先生" when the recipient is a peer?

In a professional setting, would two professors/doctors/lawyers—who would normally be addressed as "sensei"—refer to each other (as peers) using "sensei"? Note: This question used to be asking about ...
ESultanik's user avatar
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3 answers
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Do Japanese people use formal or informal language for internal monologues?

I assume informal. Are there any cases when you would use formal, perhaps to be sarcastic? And general, is informal or formal language used more in life (I mean for the average person - is it around ...
user71207's user avatar
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7 votes
5 answers
3k views

When does omission of です constitute casual speech?

In many textbooks, polite style speech is taught, which means です and ます endings are introduced, and used in many sentences. However, I have encountered sentences with omissions, for example sentences ...
rhyaeris's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
280 views

formality of ちゃう・じゃう

Is it sometimes considered politer or more formal to say ちゃう・じゃう as opposed to してしまう? Does it give a more positive nuance than してしまう? An example: One time I was going to be late to a dinner date and ...
frei's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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The difference between するには and する為には

The one answer I have really found says there is no semantic difference. Is there a formality difference? Is する為には more formal than するには?
Angelos's user avatar
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What is the difference between formal and polite verb forms?

In the answer to this question I asked (When to use である vs であります?), sazarando responded by saying that "である" is formal but not polite, and "です" is polite but not formal. I sort of understand the ...
charlieshades's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
5k views

When to use である vs であります?

I understand that である is the "written" form of だ/です. Because it's a "written" form, doesn't that already imply a certain level of formality? So when would one use であります as opposed to just である? If you ...
charlieshades's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
184 views

今(temporal counter) vs. 本(temporal counter)

Aside from levels of formality, is there a difference in the meaning/nuance of 今日・今週・今月・今年 as opposed to 本日・本週・本月・本年 ?
archaephyrryx's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
4k views

全く vs 全然 (formal / casual)

What is the difference between 全く vs 全然? Is there a preference between using 全く or 全然 in essay writing? Is this true: 全部 (zenbu) all [casual] 全て (subete) all [formal] 全然〜ない (zenzen nai) not 〜 at all ...
450F's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
155 views

〜と考えている at the end of a sentence

An example sentence from NHK Easy (source) 政府は、日本に住む人みんなにマイナンバーカードを作って、健康保険証の登録をしてもらいたいと考えています。 Reading NHK Easy, I frequently see sentences ending in 〜と考えています when it's clear that it's not meant to ...
frog's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
590 views

Asking somebody of higher social status whether they made a mistake

I am exchanging an email with someone of higher social status than me after noticing a possible mistake on their part. I want to say I'm wondering if a mistake has been made My first thought was ...
Iceandele's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
182 views

3rd person references in formal emails

I deal with lots of formal emails (within the company) that refer to unnamed 3rd parties. The first reference is 「研究者」. If I want to use "they" later in the email, what should I use? I've seen both 「...
Norbles's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
647 views

Politeness / Respectfulness / Humility / Formality

The wikipedia article "Honorific speech in Japanese" states that Japanese has grammatical functions to express several different emotions. Not only politeness but also respectfulness, humility and ...
ersbygre1's user avatar
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1 answer
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How to ask for something, formally, but on the internet

I don't really have a great understanding of Japanese internet culture, but as a Korean, I'm guessing it would be quite similar to ours in terms of "formality," as both Korean and Japanese have "...
VladeKR's user avatar
  • 507
5 votes
2 answers
3k views

When to use おなかすいた and when to use はらへった?

From what I understand from listening to anime, both mean I'm hungry. But when do I use them properly? Is one more formal/polite than the other? Or is neither of them polite/formal enough? In ...
絢瀬絵里's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Politely asking to stay at someone's home? お邪魔させてもらう、泊めてもらう、or 滞在させてもらう?

Which of the following is the most polite? Is any of them incorrect? Is there a more standard way to ask someone if you could stay with them while in town? ~ 8日から9日まで、あなたのお宅にお邪魔させてもらえませんか。 ~ ...
seijitsu's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Difference between onyomi words and kunyomi words

I think the more I read up on complicated topics the more I encounter onyomi words that have kunyomi synonyms. For example: 新しいvs新規 最新 終わりvs終了 危ないvs危険 Is the rule generally that onyomi words are ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
2k views

In general, do Japanese people communicate formally or informally when conversing on a forum/commenting/chat?

I am asking for general use, when it is not clear whether you should be talking in formal/informal.
Game Master Jack's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
404 views

How to politely inform other people of acceptable alternative ways of addressing you?

Being a foreigner often comes with having a name/surname that doesn't quite roll off the tongue in Japanese. So for example if my name/surname is "ABCDEFG", I'd like to say (after introductions) "...
Ceiling Gecko's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
249 views

What are simple "No" responses?

I've learned from textbooks and online sites like Duolingo that "no" is いいえ, but I've rarely heard native speakers say that. I learned さあ today as sort of an "I don't know" response. I saw a ...
Strawberry's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
13k views

"Please let me know if you have any questions" in japanese

I'm trying to send a report to my superior, and want to say "please let me know if you have any questions" about this report. The only form that I can think of is "何か質問があれば言ってください". But I am sure it ...
Ahou's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
254 views

Usage of 次第 with informal language (やる)

I encountered the following multiple-choice question on page 29 (question 10) of my JLPT N2 grammar textbook 「新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N2」: 佐藤君、今やっている作業が(   )、山口君の方を手伝ってやってくれ。 1 終われば       2 終わった上で 3 終わり次第   ...
L. F.'s user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

How common/formal is あたくし?

A while ago, I discovered that あたし has a more-formal variant: あたくし This is obviously very similar to the relationship between わたし and わたくし. However, there are a couple of details that I'm not too ...
GoBusto's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
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"Formal" Japanese and "honorific" Japanese, are completely different, right?

My understanding is that, strictly speaking, "honorific" Japanese 敬語{けいご} is completely different from "formal" Japanese 丁寧語{ていねいご}. Yet, I sometimes hear even native speakers conflate them: ex: 「する」...
davewp's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Casual way to enter a home?

As far as I know, おはいりください might be used to invite someone in when they are visiting your home. I was wondering if this would be used by friends who have visited each other's houses a few times before....
RLB's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

How to introduce myself in relation to my wife?

I know there are a few ways to essentially say "husband" (夫、旦那、主人). Can all be used by a speaker to refer to themselves? Examples I thought of: (私はAの)旦那/夫/主人です。 旦那/夫/主人の○○です。 I have a ...
Amani Kilumanga's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
308 views

Formality when talking to ex girlfriend

I am a 32 year old American male. I dated a Japanese female from Kobe for three years. She is now 35 years old, married with a baby. I met her in Kobe, where I lived as well. We haven't spoken in ...
Eoin's user avatar
  • 143
4 votes
2 answers
511 views

What's the proper form (formal or informal) to use when speaking to others online?

I should preface this by saying that I'm myself fairly young (a teenager) and I speak primarily to other young people. While I may not know their exact age, it's safe to assume they are either ...
Catherine Palmer's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
238 views

つもり vs Simple Future

Several resources I've looked over define つもり as (often) being used to say "I intend to ~", such as this example sentence from Genki I: 週末にたけしさんとテニスをするつもりです。 "I intend to play tennis ...
frog's user avatar
  • 424
3 votes
2 answers
337 views

Are both of these sentences grammatically correct? (stem+に+行く vs て+行く)

These are the sentences: ユニオンへサンドイッチを買いに行きました。 ユニオンへサンドイッチを買って行った。 Are they both grammatically correct? Also do they both mean the same thing, which by my translation is "I went to the union ...
Mononoke's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
529 views

Is honorific speech ever used in the first person?

I'm just starting out learning Japanese, and I've read that when using honorific and humble forms and conjugations, you use humble forms to refer to yourself, and honorific forms to refer to others, ...
Obie 2.0's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
1k views

Question about switching formality in a conversation

In case I am talking with someone using the informal form but we are not close friends yet (perhaps a close acquaintance or someone I'm chatting with online) and I want to ask him a personal question (...
Ofek Aman's user avatar
  • 135
3 votes
1 answer
210 views

How is this unnecessarily informal?

I was reading this particular answer, when I found something interesting and confusing to me. The answer stated: If one had to insert a particle in [会社{かいしゃ}など230の会社] that made sense, that ...
ajsmart's user avatar
  • 7,099
3 votes
2 answers
406 views

Which is more formal/polite: 大いに or ずいぶん?

I know とても is not very formal, but what about ずいぶん and 大いに? Are ずいぶん and 大いに interchangeable, and if so, which is more formal?
Kiki's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
217 views

Parsing usage of 方

The following is from a scholarly book describing old Jerusalem in the context of the modern geo-political world. The bolded part stands out for me. 市街は、古い巨大な城壁にかこまれています。城壁は[方千]{ほうせん}メートルたらず。 ...
A.Ellett's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
249 views

How often is 略字 (handwriting simplification) used?

Is 略字 (handwriting simplification) used only in informal writing (like a diary or post-it annotations) or is it used in more formal situations (like teacher/professor blackboard writing or an essay)?
Yasushiki's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
250 views

Confusion on the politeness vs. formality terminology

I was reading the "Dictionary of Japanese Grammar" series, and I found the way it uses the term formality vs. politeness contradictory and confusing, so I wanted some clarifications. Here ...
what the's user avatar
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