Questions tagged [politeness]

丁寧表現(待遇表現). From social politeness ("please", "thank you", etc) to the technical Japanese grammatical concepts of honorifics and respectful and humble forms known as "keigo".

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27
votes
3answers
12k views

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

When does one use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい? For example, in phrases like: 先生は野菜を食べて欲し​{いです・がっています}。 My incomplete understanding is that the がる form is more formal/polite, but it can only be ...
23
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6answers
19k 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 ...
12
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2answers
3k views

Is it ok to use ~て下さりました instead of ~ていただきました?

Just to avoid repeatedly saying いただきました too much, can I occasionally switch it with 下さりました or 下さいました?
16
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1answer
1k views

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it?

why is it that some 形容動詞 accepts の after it while some only accepts な after it? Examples: の only: 普通、大勢 な or の: 初心、特別、特殊 Is there a way for us to tell if a 形容動詞 needs a の or な particle after it....
15
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3answers
3k views

In actual Japanese society, how often are second-person pronouns used?

My Japanese professor (I'm in first-year Japanese) advised us to primarily avoid the use of second-person pronouns like あなた or 君 or おまえ throughout the year, and essentially treated their utterance as ...
51
votes
5answers
50k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", "I ...
18
votes
2answers
600 views

What are the origins of ド when used as emphasis, and is it always negative?

Sometimes I've seen ド as a prefix that adds emphasis to words. So saying someone is ドバカ is saying that they are much more stupid than just バカ. I'm wondering what the origin of ド in this context is. ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Do all verbs have an honorific and humble form?

I was reading about this phenomenon in a few places and saw, for instance, this table of transformations and substitutions for various verbs. Is it only these common verbs which change, or do all ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Masu te-form with Kudasai?

Can you use the -masu te form to form requests? Like, can you say "machimashite kudasai"? (O.o sounds weird huh.)
43
votes
5answers
13k views

Is it proper to thank waitstaff, cashiers, etc. for their service?

In my Japanese class we were taught that one does not need to thank a cashier when they check you out or a server when they bring you your meal, but I always feel awkward remaining silent. Was my ...
18
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4answers
3k views

correctness of い adjective + です

Generally, in all Japanese language classes, the rule you're taught is that です does not follow い adjectives. Instead, い adjectives can act like stative verbs, and as such terminate a sentence by ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Can polite and casual Japanese be combined?

What I mean is, is there any overlap? are you allowed to speak in a way that combines both forms of speech? like are there words that, even if using formal speech, are typical to use casual speech ...
10
votes
2answers
401 views

Why does the waiter use past tense here

When I was trying to order a set meal in the restaurant, the waiter said Aランチのほうでよろしかったでしょうか I am not sure why the past tense よろしかった is used here, I personally would say Aランチのほうでよろしいでしょうか I ...
7
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3answers
20k views

How to say “no thank you, I don't want / need it”?

Sometimes I am offered something but because I'm just a beginner I don't know what verb they used. I know the proper way to say "no" is to answer with the negative form of the verb the other person ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Which kanji to use for saying ありがとうございます in emails?

When sending emails, I've noticed that Japanese colleagues use all sorts of kanji/kana combinations for the simple phrases ありがとうございました and よろしくおねがいいたします. For example: ありがとうございました 有難うございました 有難う御座いました ...
5
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2answers
1k views

With whom to use different honorific forms? 丁寧語より尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語

With whom is it considered proper to use 尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語 instead of 丁寧語? I mean saying おいでになります・伺います・参ります instead of 行きます. The often given example is for a service-person speaking with a customer, but ...
29
votes
2answers
6k views

ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました

When thanking someone, what is the rule for using ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました? My sensei taught us to use ありがとうございました when the action you're thanking someone for occurred in the past, but I've heard ...
19
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1answer
2k views

Can you use “anata” with people you don't know well?

I have read repeatedly that the pronoun "anata" (meaning "you") is very personal and should not be used. But to say something like "Which car is yours?" I would say "Dono kuruma ga anata no desu ka?" ...
18
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4answers
4k views

Is it offensive to say あなた?

My teacher says that we should avoid あなた, like わたし, which could be taken off. Following this, I try to refer to the second person by the name: 加藤さんの趣味は何ですか. But there are situations where we forget ...
15
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3answers
2k views

When should 男の人/女の人 be used instead of 男/女?

My teacher always corrects me when I use 男 or 女 by themselves, without adding の人 to the end of it. But in various Japanese media (music, drama, anime, etc.), I know for sure that I have heard them ...
13
votes
3answers
6k views

When and to whom should I use the expression ご苦労様 (gokurousama)?

In what context and relationship wise to who can I safely say ご苦労様 (gokurousama)? I often defer to using otsukaresama since I'm not sure if I'm talking down to someone by saying gokurousama. Please ...
13
votes
2answers
8k views

Polite Way to Ask “How old are you?” : 何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

I think the sentences: 何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? are all sentences that ask "How old are you?" How are they different? What form is most polite?
4
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
914 views

When can I exchange くださる for いただく in expressions of gratitude?

Way back when, I remember being taught that when you want to say a really polite "thank you", sentences such as these are basically the same: 文章を訂正していただきましてありがとうございます。 文章を訂正してくださいましてありがとうございます。...
6
votes
1answer
469 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
12
votes
3answers
44k views

Address someone by their first name, or their last name?

When addressing John Doe, would you say "John-さん", or "Doe-さん"? Does it depend on how polite or formal you're being? Does it also depend on whether the person is a nihonjin, a kankokujin (who have ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Addressing strangers without knowing the name

How does one address a stranger in a casual conversation when name is unknown? For example, I had a conversation with an older Japanese lady and I wanted to compliment her on her English (but in ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Does “敬語” (keigo) just mean “politeness” or is it a technical term specifically relating to Japanese grammar?

What is the difference between the Japanese term "敬語" (keigo) and the English term "politeness" (Specifically regarding language)? I assumed politeness is more general covering things like "please" ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is the honorific o used for the bathroom?

I've seen the honorific "o"/"go" (is it called bikago?) being used as politness or reverence: o-cha for non-western tea, o-namae when talking about someone else's name, o-genki instead of just genki, ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Respectful way to say “policeman”

Let's say I want to call a policeman, or I am in a n-person conversation involving a policeman and I want a word to refer to the policeman. And let's say I want a respectful word. I believe おまわりさん ...
4
votes
2answers
805 views

Imperative form is rude…?

So I've been digging around some more and found this image from a PDF here. Basically, it said that the Imperative form (such as 見ろ{みろ} or 飛べ{とべ}) is usually considered ruder than the ~て form (such ...
6
votes
2answers
700 views

In customer settings, is it ok to ask for keigo to be repeated in more “normal” Japanese?

In the context of restaurants, convenience stores and similar situations, is it ok for a customer to ask for something that was said in keigo (or in manual keigo) to be repeated in more "normal" ...
6
votes
1answer
502 views

What does “sensitive” or “sens” mean?

For example, Jisho marks 医者 (doctor) as sensitive, as does the flashcard set I've been using. I don't understand what this annotation means; "doctor" doesn't seem like a particularly sensitive term to ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Adjective negation: difference between 〜くない and 〜くありません

What's the difference between 〜くない and 〜くありません? Both are added to an i-adjective (イ形容詞, verb type adjective) to make it negative. For example: 寒くない 寒くありません But what's the difference? Is one more ...
20
votes
5answers
23k views

How do you respond to thanks given?

How do you respond to ありがとうございます and other ways of giving thanks? Are there any expressions similar to the English "You're welcome" or "No problem", or is it appropriate to not respond at all?
8
votes
2answers
12k views

Interpreting させていただきます

Speaker 1:先{さき}に食事{しょくじ}に行{い}っていいよ Speaker 2:では,そうさせていただきます Please help understand this conversation - especially the 'させていただきます' construct. What would this translate into English as?
21
votes
1answer
49k views

How would I say “Get well soon”?

Last summer my family hosted a Japanese exchange student for two weeks, and we've kept in touch with her a lot. Unfortunately, about 2 months ago I found out she had Leukemia. She said she'll recover.....
24
votes
3answers
6k views

“You don't have to be so polite.” Really?

Sometimes a Japanese person will say to me: そんなに丁寧な言葉を使わなくてもいいんですよ。 This is an invitation to be less formal. But how much less formal? As I have experienced, sometimes unintentional gaffes can be ...
18
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5answers
2k views

In modern usage how do Japanese natives regard the differences between 外人, 外国人 and 外人さん?

As a near native speaker of Japanese, I find it annoying to be called 外人 since it seems to imply that I "know nothing about Japan" (outsider). I much prefer 外国人. In modern usage, how do native ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

How would I respectfully disagree with a superior?

If my manager says something that I know to be factually incorrect, how can I point that out without sounding disrespectful? (Is ~違います appropriate in this context or is that too strong?) Is this a ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)?

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)? I often see these two words used interchangeably, but more often than not I see 氏名 on websites. Is this a politeness difference or an ...
6
votes
1answer
399 views

Origin of ません (-masen)?

I understand that polite forms like yomimasu are actually (or originated as) infinitive yomi + auxiliary verb masu in its plain non-past form. Then past form yomimashita is just infinitive yomi + ...
3
votes
1answer
754 views

What's the difference among ~てください, くださいますか, and くださいませんか?

I think all three expressions are used to show my requests to someone who are superior than me. However I am wondering if there are any nuance differences in these expressions. For example: (1) ...
18
votes
1answer
495 views

Politeness in examination questions

1) Why do Japanese school examination questions get more rude as the year gets higher? In elementary school ...してください。 or ...しましょう。 ... です。 ...ですか。 In junior high school to high school ......
15
votes
4answers
4k views

How to respond when someone praises about my Japanese?

While talking with some Japanese people in an online form, someone said 日本語上手ですね! to me. I just replied そうですか, but what would be an appropriate way to reply keeping it as less informal as possible. ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

What to say when leaving the table before everybody else?

For example, while having lunch with your coworkers and you have to attend some matter soon, what would be a natural way to leave the table? I think that in this case saying お先に失礼します would be wrong.
9
votes
2answers
6k views

ちょっと and/or むり: How to refuse an invitation with a specific reason?

It is commonly taught that the polite way to refuse an invitation is "ちょっと。。。" However, how do you refuse an invitation, while giving a reason? For example, would it still be considered polite to say ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the meanings of ました, ます, and ません?

What are the uses for ました, ます, and ません? For example with the word, ありがとう, what are the differences between ありがとうございました, ありがとうございます, and ありがとうございません? Also, is it possible to properly use どうも as a ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Does anyone know which おり this is?

彼女は表情が生き生きとしておりとてもかわいい。 was translated awkwardly on ALC as She is very pretty for the liveliness of her expression. Which おり is this? I think I know it from the polite しております but is it here ...
3
votes
2answers
299 views

Usage of 私{わたし} in Informal Situations

I know Japanese males tend to use 俺{おれ}/僕{ぼく} in informal contexts. Is it common to use 私{わたし} too or it makes one sounds overly stiff and aloof? Edit: What about 自分{じぶん}?