33

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 to ask. The main reason why it's so frequently warned against is that the first instinct of speakers of English (and other Western languages) is to use the ...


28

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 shifts is when the background style is polite. In most conversations in です・ます style between native speakers you will hear shifts to plain form. Here are some ...


18

In short, your waiter said what he said because it is the "in" thing to do for young workers (mostly part-time) at inexpensive restaurants, fast food places, convenience stores, etc. This speech style is called 「マニュアル[敬語]{けいご}」, 「コンビニ[言葉]{ことば}」、「ファミレス言葉」, etc. and it has been very common the last 20 years or so. (マニュアル = "manual", ファミレス = "family ...


16

いかがですか is a more formal way of saying どうですか, and similar to どうされますか. Saying コーヒーはいかがですか can also mean "Would you like some coffee?" Context should clarify it of course, but I think that どうですか would be preferred for asking about the coffee, and if you really wanted to drive the point home you can say something like コーヒーの味はどうですか? To make it more casual you ...


15

To us native speakers, 「古{ふる}い男{おとこ}」 does not mean "an old man". This is why direct translation could be dangerous at times. 「古い男」 to us means "an old-fashioned man". In other words, it is synonymous to 「古いタイプの男」. Therefore, 「古い男」 does not necessarily have to be biologically old because it is his value system that matters here. To refer to "an old man",...


14

That guy who said that こんばんは isn't heard in everyday conversation is flat out wrong. I really hate when people get up on their high horse about Japanese, especially when they're wrong. Golden rule is, never "heckle" someone over their foreign language ability, because yours will never be perfect either. I've been at this for 11 years and have lived here ...


14

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. (And it would be more true considering the fact that he knows you're not a native speaker of Japanese.) Among those, 大変失礼いたしました is probably the safest, and you ...


14

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 or two exceptions where a 高橋 goes by her first name (one of four takahashi's). Japan is a relationally organized society, and the manner in which you know the ...


14

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, for verbs not listed in that chart, you can usually transform them into the basic/regular honorific/humble forms, like this: Honorific forms: 「お~~になる」 ...


13

Both parties can use 失礼します at the end of a phone call, and in fact it is usual that both parties say 失礼します in turn. I think that a phone call is considered to be similar to a conversation between two people who met on the street in this regard. After such a conversation, both parties leave the place, so both say 失礼します. Similarly, after a phone call, both ...


13

A very common (and mature-sounding) phrase would be 「[差]{さ}し[支]{つか}えなければ」. 「差し支え」 means "obstacle", "inconvenience", etc. 「差し支えなければ、ご[職業]{しょくぎょう}をお[聞]{き}きしてもよろしいですか。」 You may add a 「もし」 at the beginning as well. Other natural expressions would include: Polite:「(もし)お[尋]{たず}ねしてもよろしければ」 Less polite:「もし聞いてもよければ」


13

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。


12

I would say the expression お世話になりました is spot on. Especially since you are trying to express gratitude for guidance, which is contained in the word 世話 "looking after; help; aid; assistance". Moreover, お世話になりました is formal and certainly suitable for a corporate environment. To adapt it to your situation, you could say, e.g. 長い間お世話になりました。


12

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 might get offended, too! It's like calling somebody "Hi young woman!". Of course some people will like it. If you say お姉さん to an 大{おお}阪{さか}のおばちゃん, you might get ...


12

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 restaurant mostly raising a hand, and by saying “すみません ‐ Excuse me” or sometimes “ちょっと、済みません - Pardon a moment” instead of calling them “お姉ちゃん / お姉さん,” which is ...


12

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 Japanese. いいえ、あまり[上手]{じょうず}じゃないです。 Ditto いいえ、まだ[下手]{へた}です。 No, (my Japanese) is still poor. いいえ is broadly used when you get praised to express modesty.


11

Both すみません and ごめんなさい mean sorry. However, there is a slight difference: ごめんなさい is an apologetic sorry. It's used when you've clearly done something WRONG, and is a very straightforward, "I'm sorry". すみません is a subtle sorry. You say this simply because you feel bad, guilty, or even embarrassed. It's more of a "sorry for the inconvenience" or "sorry for the ...


11

You are using what could be interpreted as two different verbs: まける -> to lose しっぱいする -> to fail Formally, I usually hear "I cannot afford to fail" rather than "I don't want to fail". 失敗する余裕はありません。 If you want to sound cool, you could say "I don't have any intention on losing". 負けるつもりはありません。


11

My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm wondering why the negative form ends with ん. Is that a contraction of ぬ perhaps? Yes, the final -n is from negative -nu. This should make sense as -nu attaches to the irrealis, which is ma-se since mas- is サ変. (Also why is the 未然形 ませ rather than something more regular, like まさ?) ...


11

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 composed of Sonkeigo(尊敬語), Kenjogo(謙譲語) and Teineigo(丁寧語). So, a Teineigo-only conversation sounds like a sorting Keigo quiz or something. How about asking them ...


11

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) but not to verbs directly. Therefore if you say お支払い, here 支払い is a noun hence you cannot conjugate it in the たい-form. You have two options: Use する to turn the ...


10

Basing on my experience it depends more by the context rather than the two interlocutors and their relationship. I am going to tell you my experiences, and what my teachers told me. At work When I was at work I was the (saying it not badly) the very last one in the hierarchy I would say. I worked in one of the 4 biggest research facilities of one of the ...


10

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 receive you allowing me to do that". From now on, think of いただきます as simply meaning "get" or "have" as in "getting someone to do something nice for you", because that's ...


10

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 graduated/move to higher education. Usually it's difficult for you to call it as 田中さん because you used 田中先生 all the time to call him/her. However if you're friend ...


10

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".


10

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 adjective, and an adjective has two different ways of use as a predicative use and an attributive one. An attributive use of 古い is already answered using the ...


9

To add to the answers, it's also a directional thing. 下さい is 尊敬語 for くれる, you are asking someone to do something in an honorific way. This is oriented to be polite toward the person you are asking to do something. お願いします is 謙譲語 for 願う, you are humbly making a request for yourself. This is oriented to be humble about the request you are making. "More ...


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