Request Master, Part I (Bonus Unit G)

Of the stem changes we've seen in this course, the ones for ~て, ~た, and ~たら form are likely the most difficult to master.

Luckily, it's very easy to get a lot of practice with these.

I think that the best way to do this is by looking at the myriad of types of requests that can be made by attaching various words to the end of a て-form verb.

For example, most beginner students are taught the ~てください ending, which is used when politely asking someone to do something:

なまえ を かいて ください。
Please write your name.
Literally: "name + を + write (and) + please."

Most classes and textbooks put less emphasis on more casual request like this, though:

なまえ かいて くれる?
Will you write your name for me?
Literally: "name + write (and) + give (me)?"

And not until students have progressed quite a bit are they taught phrases like:

なまえ かいて ほしい。
I want you to write your name.
Literally: "name + write (and) + wanted."

It seems kind of odd to me to not explore the various types of requests we are now able to form by mastering て-form conjugations. As such, I'm going to introduce a handful of them here.


To show you exactly what I'm talking about, here is an extremely condensed grammar lesson. In fact, here are 9 lengthy grammar lessons packed into one short-ish lesson:

1) ~て is used for requests. In some cases, it can border on being a casual command.

2) ~てください is used for formal/polite requests. However, it's still pretty direct.

3) ~てくれる? means something like "Will you ~ (for me)?" The verb くれる means "to give," but it is used when someone else gives something to you (or someone closer to you than the giver). When it attached to the て-form, the thing being given is an action.

4) ~てくれない? is getting translated the same as ~てくれる?, but if we were using more literal translations, we would say that it means "Won't you ~ (for me)?" くれない is the plain present negative form of くれる.

5) ~てくれませんか? is using the polite negative form (i.e. ~ません) of the verb くれる. This is just as polite as ~てください but less direct. We're translating it as "Could you please ~?" (In later lessons, we'll see even more formal endings like ~てくださいませんか?)

6) ~てもらう is used when saying that you'll get someone to do something (for you). The verb もらう means "to receive." When it follows a て-form verb, we'll translate it as, "I'll have her/him ~," "I'll get her/him to ~," etc. In other words, it's technically NOT a request.

7) ~てもらえる? is a casual/informal (though not rude, if used with people close to you) ending that we're translating as "Could I get you to ~?" Note that もらえる is the possibility form of もらう. (In later lessons, we'll see more formal endings like ~てもらえますか?, ~ていただけますか?, etc.)

8) ~ていいよ is used when giving permission to do something (informally). In other words, it's NOT a request. We're translating it as "It's OK to ~." (Although we're not covering it in these lectures, this could be made more formal by inserting です, giving us ~ていいですよ. It can also be used in requests, as in ~ていい(ですか)?)

9) ~てほしい is used when expressing that you want someone to do something. The word 欲しい (ほしい) means something like "wanted" or "wishing for." We're translating our phrases as "I want you to ~."

↑ Too much information? Maybe just looking at translations is easier:

X) 買う(かう // to buy
1) 買って。(かって。 // Buy it.
2) 買ってください。(かってください。 // Please buy it.
3) 買ってくれる?かってくれる? // Will you buy it [for me]?
4) 買ってくれない?かってくれない? // Will you buy it [for me]?
5) 買ってくれませんか?かってくれませんか? // Could you please buy it?
6) 買ってもらう。(かってもらう。 // I'll have her/him buy it.
7) 買ってもらえる?かってもらえる? // Could I get you to buy it?
8) 買っていいよ。(かっていいよ。 // It's OK to buy it.
9) 買ってほしい。(かってほしい。 // I want you to buy it.

↑ It's pretty exciting that we can say such a wide variety of things with such similar phrases, don't you think?

No? Only me?

In any case, let's not get too excited just yet. We are going to run into some problems with the lists at the end of this lecture. Namely...


Disclaimer #1: A lot of the sentences we're seeing in this lecture would sound strange unless used in very specific contexts. Additionally, translations would change in certain contexts.

For example...

In our list of phrases below, we'll see:

ねて ください。
Please sleep.
Literally: "sleep (and) + please."

In some contexts, however, it might be possible to translate this as "Please lie down."

Or we'll see:

かいて もらえる?
Could I get you to write?
Literally: "write (and) + can receive?"

In many situations, though, the translation "Could I get you to write it?" would be more natural.

Also, we have the sentence:

△ 案内していいよ。
△ あんない して いいよ。
△ It's OK to guide (me).
△ Literally: “guide / show around + do (and) + good + よ.”

...but there are pretty much no situations in which that will ever sound natural to use.

In short, please take all of these translations with a grain of salt. They're all following a pattern simply so that we can fit such a wide variety of phrases into a small amount of space and drill conjugations rapidly.



Disclaimer #2: We are not covering every single type of request that can be formed by adding words to the end of て-form verbs.

For example...

We do look at the ~てもらえる? ending, which we're translating as "Could I get you to ~?" However, we do not mention that it would also be possible (and more formal/polite) to say something like ~てもらえますか?

かいて もらえます か?
Could I (possibly) get you to write it?
Literally: "write (and) + can receive + か?"


OK. Now, please brace yourself for an onslaught of sentences.

Here they are in printable PDF format:

Japanese Conjugations - Request Master 1 - Letter Sized.pdf

You can also download them as images.

Or you can view them in a Google Sheet.

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