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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How to say “I don't know you well”

I'm trying to tell someone the reason I don't want to do something is because i barely know them. I'm not even sure if the verb I'm suppose to be using is 知る。I feel that might be really rude to say to ...
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Use of non-polite form between Japanese companies

I'm reading the novel 下町ロケット now and one part that really surprised me is when several of the members from one company speak to members of the other company without using 敬語 (for example "やめた方がいいよ”). ...
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981 views

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 ...
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How rude is it to speak to a Japanese stranger informally instead of using the polite form?

Are there any native Japanese here that could tell me how rude it is to speak informally to Japanese people I have never met instead of using the polite form? I'm assuming it's more rude the older the ...
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ご無沙汰いたしました — OK for electronic communications?

In a recent comment exchange on ELU.SE, a Japanese man (my senior in years, and a "guest" in the forum whose questions I had answered regularly for some time, but not much lately as I have been ...
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How to ask someone to do something for you

I'd like to know how to politely ask someone (as a question, not a statement) to do something for me in Japanese. I'm already aware of the basic "___をください" and "___をおねがいします" patterns, but I don't want ...
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Grammar vs. politeness: a tale of two evils

In "The structure of the Japanese language", Susumo Kuno uses the example (p. 130) John wa sensei ni kono hon o {moratta / itadaita}. Both have a problem: itadaku should be used only in the first ...
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946 views

Any better way to ask “How are you?” instead of “お元気ですか?”

I'm very curios to know about the meaning of "お元気ですか?". This could be the very basic question. But once I asked my office colleague(Japanese Native) "お元気ですか?". so his reply was very shocking to me. He ...
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Polite way of asking if someone's received an email

What's a polite way of asking in an email if you've received a previous email? In my case, "polite" means "I'm emailing the tourism information staff of a place that mainly deals with domestic ...
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When to use ご返事 and お返事?

Here is a discussion about whether to use ご返事 and お返事, but there seems to be diverging opinions: ご返事: ご返事 is 謙譲語 (according to No.1) ご返事 is seldom used for 尊敬語 (according to No.5) ご返事 is for 謙譲語 AND ...
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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 ...
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599 views

Does 「拝見ありがとうございます」 ever make sense?

I have seen this used on a Japanese site by at least two native speakers, usually attached to the end of the post to mean "Thank you for reading". The phrasing simply doesn't make sense to ...
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How does one differentiate between future tense (will) and present tense?

How do I differentiate between future tense and present tense. For example, the sentence: 私は魚を食べる If I am not mistaken, the above sentence can either mean "I will eat fish" or "I eat fish". ...
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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 "...
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How to address misbehaving kids (not one's own)

Say you are in public and see some other people's kids misbehaving. What is the appropriate way to address them? (both sexes) Something on the line of: "Hey kid, don't do ..." It might be specific ...
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574 views

Am I understanding ご覧になって頂く/送らせて頂く correctly?

Just for a little bit of context: There's a flyer about a Japanese church's beach retreat that's been sent around, and I'm trying to translate it for practice. That being said, the flyer has been ...
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282 views

Why would you use まいります for rain? (降ってまいります)

I ran across this example sentence in a basic dictionary, but I can't figure out what particular meaning まいります has in this context. 雨が降ってまいりました。 Generally speaking, it's used as the humble verb for ...
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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" ...
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Should I use sonkeigo if I meet a celebrity?

Yesterday I met a very famous Japanese person. I panicked and asked him, 「写真をとってもよろしいでしょうか」 Was this correct? Or was this too polite and kind of strange?
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“If I may ask a question, …”

Our teacher taught us to ask for the permission to ask a question by saying「質問してもいいですか。」. Now I'm writing her an email, and would like to say something along the lines of "If I may ask a question, ..."...
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Making a sentence that ends in なかった polite

What are the different ways to make a sentence that ends in なかった polite?
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How do fathers say “I” when talking to their children in Japanese?

In this thread, I asked about how parents say "I" when talking to their children. I want to refine that question to specifically how fathers refer to themselves. My understanding is that fathers ...
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609 views

Dragging one's feet for politeness

Having worked in a Japanese office for years, I have noticed this behavior thousands of time: An important customer rings the reception's bell. An employee 10 to 30 meters away (who has an ...
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Why do Japanese businessmen use 「さん」 even with うち names in meetings with foreigners

I noticed that many Japanese businessmen tend to address the colleagues they are traveling with, or even introduce themselves as ◯◯◯さん. This would clearly be a faux-pas in a Japanese-only meeting, yet ...
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referring to children: 子, 子供, or お子さん?

This is an issue that came up with my host family quite often. I have never been quite clear on which to use. In particular, 子 seems somewhat rude (much to the same effect as 男 or 女). On the other ...
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446 views

When is 博士 (hakase) used as honorific?

According to wikipedia, 博士 (hakase) is used as honorific when addressing some academics: Sensei (先生、せんせい) [...] is used to refer to or address teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers. [...] The term ...
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When to use the counter word mei 名 over nin 人?

Beginner here. When would you use the counter word 名 over 人? I read online that 名 is used for formal situations, and literally every website gave counting customers as the example (as in, asking how ...
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399 views

What is the recommended timing for あけおめ ことよろ?

Contrarily to the abbreviated informal (if not rude) version I used in the title, the usual greeting for the New Year is quite long: 明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。 Those are two sentences, and it ...
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502 views

How to correctly use でございます when speaking with a superior?

I have heard that some phrases may be used in a humble form when speaking to a superior regardless of whether or not it has an impact on the superior. でございます is one of them. But does that only apply ...
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644 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 ...
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Politeness level congruency

This question comes from observing a game show called ガキの使いやあらへんで ("instant miso soup" episode), where the participants have to match a product to the one they consume while blindfolded. They are only ...
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380 views

When should the polite form of 〜たり be used?

I've noticed that I don't see 〜ましたり used very often, but it does seem to be an accepted form. I believe this form can be broken down like this: 動詞{どうし}の連用形{れんようけい}+「ます」の連用形{れんようけい}+「たり」 My ...
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395 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 ...
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Are both of these correct sentences: 「ここに住所を書いてくださいますか?」「ここに住所を書いてくださいませんか?」?

I believe 「ここに住所を書いてくださいますか?」 means “Could you please write the address here?” And 「ここに住所を書いてくださいませんか?」 means “Would you please write the address here?” An exercise I’m doing shows the second sentence ...
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Is it rude to ask a Japanese person using keigo to speak less formally? How to do it politely? [closed]

This has mostly to do with me not understanding Keigo well, so when I enter restaurants or other service-based businesses, and they talk in Keigo to me, I hardly ever understand, which is why I always ...
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How to convert verbs from polite form to dictionary form?

Does anyone have a good rule for converting to dictionary (u)form from masu form regarding the different verb groups? Most websites start with dictionary and go to masu but I learned starting with ...
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963 views

Polite or casual?

Is this sentence polite or casual? Or even better. Is it correct to use this casual type of sentences inside another more polite? This is the sentence: 時間がなかったからパーティーに行きませんでした。 Wouldn't it be more ...
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How to answer -だね question?

So I've come to learn that something + だね means something along the lines of "Is it __?" with an expected yes answer. I received this kind of comment as a response to a photo I posted on the internet. ...
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Is it polite in Japan to ask if someone speaks English? (英語を話せますか?)

As preparation for my trip, I am re-learning my Japanese. I imagined a scenario which I am not sure if it is okay to ask. Is it polite to ask someone if they speak English or are people offended by ...
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How would one refer to someone else's lover in 尊敬語?

I've searched the internet, but can't really find anything. My first thoughts were お恋人 and お付き合いの方, but the first doesn't seem very common, and the latter seems to have a different meaning.
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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 ...
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Questions about `〜はる` 敬語

One thing I've never fully gotten a grasp on is the 〜はる form of "敬語", and I have some questions about it. Is it official 敬語 recognized by the 文部省, or is it just more of a regionally accepted ...
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よろしくお願いします or ありがとうございます

I have to write a letter to my future Japanese host family. It's in English, but I want to end it in Japanese. Should I use よろしくお願いします or ありがとうございます or even どうぞよろしくおねがいします?
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In Japanese, how do you say you will skip ahead past one section for time's sake while reading aloud to an audience?

How do you succinctly say that you are going to skip ahead past the next section or paragraph for time's sake and tell the audience which spot you are picking up again when reading a paper aloud at an ...
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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。 ~ ...
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453 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, ...
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281 views

How to refer to a famous writer? (-さん?-先生?)

I was trying to write something about Osamu Dazai, I know that for mangakas we use 先生, but usually celebrities' names are mentioned without any honorifics.
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Noun + da kara desu — why are da and desu mixed? why not both “da” or both “desu”?

In this sentence: Neko da kara desu. Because it's a cat. Why are the "da" and "desu" used at the same time? Logically, it should've been: Neko desu kara desu. Or in a casual conversation if ...
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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 ...
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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 ...

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