36 votes
Accepted

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

The pronoun "anata" is the supposed neutral way to refer to someone whose name you're not aware of, and it's OK to use it to a stranger if you can't think of any other way to phrase the thing you want ...
user avatar
  • 6,521
29 votes
Accepted

Can polite and casual Japanese be combined?

Yes, absolutely. It's called "style shift." There's a whole book about it, and it's covered in brief in A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar, but in short: The most common place to hear style ...
user avatar
  • 2,967
17 votes
Accepted

What is it about ~まして?

Yes, it is the -て form of ます. But it's a little more restricted, so you need to be a bit careful. To be polite, you normally only need to use the です/ます form for the final verb. Any other verbs can be ...
user avatar
  • 7,865
15 votes

How would a fluent speaker understand ありがとうございません?

It's not common at all and I don't remember whether I've heard it in my entire life, but ありがとうございません is not gibberish, and it could pass as a meaningful wordplay to describe ありがた迷惑 if used in an ...
user avatar
  • 267k
14 votes

Interpreting させていただきます

People learning Japanese get all caught up in polite language by twisting odd sounding honourific English to make it seem like it's at the same level of politeness as Japanese, like "I humble ...
user avatar
14 votes

How to use ~先生 properly with co-workers?

This question is largely about culture but a place where culture and language interact. I work at a university in Japan and both on and off campus, we call each other 苗字 (family name)-先生. There's one ...
user avatar
  • 8,025
13 votes
Accepted

How do you politely apologize to a professor for unintentional rudeness?

I feel that the expressions you listed include "super-polite" apologies which would be a bit too much in this situation. The professor would be surprised if you really used these heavy expressions. (...
user avatar
  • 267k
13 votes

How to respond when someone praises about my Japanese?

The way to go is usually to just deny it a little. Something in the lines of : そんな事ないです。 まだまだです。
user avatar
  • 5,601
13 votes
Accepted

How to respond when someone praises about my Japanese?

There could be many ways of saying "I am not good at Japanese." depending on your personal preference and context. My favorites were いいえ、あまり[上手]{じょうず}ではありません。 No, I am not that good at ...
user avatar
  • 2,078
12 votes

How impolite is it to call a waitress お姉{ねえ}さん?

Until a few decades ago, we used to hear guests call waitresses “お姉ちゃん” or “お姉さん.” But we don’t see or hear someone calling a waitress by the term, “お姉ちゃん” or “お姉さん” today. We address waitresses in ...
user avatar
  • 9,425
12 votes
Accepted

How impolite is it to call a waitress お姉{ねえ}さん?

I wouldn't do that. It's true that some people use お姉さん, but you'll be taking unnecessary risk. For a example, some older women might get offended for being called that way, and some younger women ...
user avatar
  • 14.5k
12 votes
Accepted

When to use である vs であります?

である is formal, but not polite であります is formal and polite, but not humble でございます is formal and polite and humble だ is informal, but not polite です is informal-* and polite *- compared to である A ...
user avatar
  • 7,221
12 votes
Accepted

Do all verbs have an honorific and humble form?

As a general rule, almost all verbs can be transformed into an honorific form, and many, but not all, can be transformed into a humble form*. The chart you pasted lists special/irregular forms. So, ...
user avatar
  • 60k
11 votes

How can I say "I insist on paying" (for a free item) to a shopkeeper?

The other answers I feel are OK, but I wanted to point out that I think your attempt "お支払いたい" is not grammatically correct. As far as I know the honorific お is attached to nouns (or well, する-verbs) ...
user avatar
  • 7,720
11 votes

Is it rude to refer to a person as 古い?

But I have never once heard a person referred to as 古い, We use 古い also 新しい for a person not for describing his/her age but for describing his/her way/tendency of thinking. As you know 古い is an ...
user avatar
  • 15.1k
11 votes

How would a fluent speaker understand ありがとうございません?

While it’s not impossible to interpret, it is unusual (far more than “thanks, but no thanks”). This is mainly because the grammatical construction of 〜うございます is mostly no longer productive and ...
user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Could 家族 be used for really close friends?

We may not use 家族 to refer to friends as much as in other cultures, but calling someone with whom you have a family-to-family relationship as you describe in your post 日本の家族 is totally acceptable, and ...
user avatar
  • 12.5k
9 votes

What is the polite way to say, "move?"

そこ literally means "there" so you can't just add ください to it. For "move", I think you would say: どいて。(informal) どいてください。(polite form of どいて, but still sounds informal) (ちょっと、)そこ、あけて。 (Lit. Make ...
user avatar
  • 60k
9 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to ask a Japanese person using keigo to speak less formally? How to do it politely?

Asking someone to speak in plain Japanese is not rude if it's done nicely. However, asking someone to speak in Teineigo seems strange, I would say. Because it sounds like a challenge. Keigo(敬語) is ...
user avatar
  • 2,756
9 votes

How to use ~先生 properly with co-workers?

Normally when the Japanese company workers go out for the 飲み会(party) with their Manager or Boss they call them 部長 or 社長 only. In the same way your students will call you as ~先生 even after they ...
user avatar
  • 161
9 votes
Accepted

Ways to say 'You needn't apologize'

How about... (いえいえ、) 謝っていただくことはありません(よ)。 (いえいえ、) 謝っていただくことではありません(よ)。 (いえいえ、) 謝っていただかなくていいんです(よ)。 (いえいえ、) 謝っていただくことなんか(何も)ありません(よ)。 (いや、/ いやいや、/ううん、etc.) 謝らなくていい(んだ)よ。 -- casual (...
user avatar
  • 60k
9 votes
Accepted

Origin of ません (-masen)?

According to Shogakukan's big 国{こく}語{ご}大{だい}辞{じ}典{てん}, the verb ending -masu ultimately derived from a combination of humble polite auxiliary verb 参{まい}る plus the verb する, as a shift from either &#...
user avatar
9 votes

How to respond when someone praises about my Japanese?

I would say: そんなことないです。 全然ですよ。 まだまだですよ。 Those means "not at all".
user avatar
  • 1,474
9 votes

How does one differentiate between future tense (will) and present tense?

If I am not mistaken, the above sentence can either mean "I will eat fish" or "I eat fish". Correct. ... conjugating the verb to the ます form only aims to make the sentence polite ...
user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

okay to use 男/女 as opposed to 男/女の人 to refer to yourself?

私は男でも女でもありません is perfectly fine. When you refer to yourself, you don't have to add の人. Even when you refer to someone else, 男/女 tends to sound safe when used predicatively, because you are clearly ...
user avatar
  • 267k
9 votes
Accepted

Is 何それ a rude phrase?

何それ? is not necessarily rude, but it is certainly informal. As such, it should probably only be used with friends or family or in an informal environment. Using it outside those boundaries might risk ...
user avatar
  • 11.2k
9 votes
Accepted

Does 「拝見ありがとうございます」 ever make sense?

おっしゃる通り、「拝見ありがとうございます。」は敬語の使い方が間違っています。「拝見いただきありがとうございます。」「ご拝見ありがとうございます。」「拝見していただき...」などは、(言おうとしていることはわかるんですが、)どれもおかしいです。 「拝見」「拝読」「拝聴」などは謙譲語ですから、相手の行為には使いません。「ご覧くださりありがとうございます。」「ご覧くださってありがとうございます。」(...
user avatar
  • 60k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible