483 - ～ませんか (recommendation)
JLPT N5: ～ませんか (why don't you...?)
The ～ませんか we're looking at in this lesson is a lot like the ～ませんか we saw in the previous N5 lesson.
You may recall that we saw dialogues like this one:
こんや、 えいが に いきませんか。
Would you like to go to the movies tonight?
Literally: “tonight, + movie + に + won’t go + か.”
いい です ね。 いきましょう。
That sounds nice. Yes, let's go.
Literally: “good + です + ね. + let’s go.”
Note: We saw this usage of ～ましょう in this lesson: [NDL #469] - JLPT N5: ～ましょう.
Here (in sentence A), we have ～ませんか getting translated to "would you like to...?"
In other words, Person A is using ～ませんか in order to invite Person B to do something together.
But we can also use ～ませんか to suggest that the listener do something (on his/her own).
Consider this example:
ムーアさん、 イラスト が とくい なんですか。 わたし の かいしゃ で はたらきませんか。
So you’re good at illustrating, Mr. Moore? Why don’t you work for my company?
Literally: “Moore-san, + illustration + が + strong point / skilled + なん + です + か. + I + の + company + で + won’t work?”
Yes, I’d love to.
Literally: “yes, + certainly / without fail.”
Here's another example:
あさって みんな で うみ に いく んだけど、 きませんか。
Everyone’s going to the beach the day after tomorrow. Why don’t you join us?
Literally: “day after tomorrow + everyone + で + sea + に + go + んだ + けど, + won’t come?”
Yeah, (I’ll) definitely (go).
Literally: “certainly / without fail + go.”
Wait a second. Wouldn't 来ませんか be an invitation and not a suggestion?
I suppose you could argue that. Although it seems that Person A will be going to the beach whether or not Person B agrees to join (i.e. agrees to Person A's suggestion to go).
Or you could argue that differentiation between the "～ませんか of invitation" and the "～ませんか of suggestion" is a big fat waste of time. That's probably what I'm going to do―it just means either "why don't you...?" or "would you like to...?" and we can guess which meaning it is based off of context.
We're just putting verbs into their negative polite form, which is ～ません, and then adding か.
If you cannot conjugate verbs into their ～ます and ～ません forms, then it is too early to be reading this lesson. Go find some conjugation drills/charts online and get those conjugation patterns memorized!
Also, note that it is very common to see our ～ませんか suggestion in the form of ～みませんか (=won't try? [lit. won't see?]) attaching to a て-form verb. Like this:
サイクリング、 あなた も はじめて みませんか。
Why don’t you try cycling, too?
Literally: “cycling, + you + も (=also) + start (and) + won’t see?”
そう です ね。
Literally: “that’s right, huh? / that’s so, isn’t it?”
We'll cover ～てみる in a future lesson. In the meantime, maybe go back and look at this lesson: [NDL #57] - Try Doing VS Try to Do.
While we're on the topic of sentence construction, note that it is also possible to use ～ないか？ in informal language:
これ、 ちょっと たべて みないか。 おいしい よ。
Want to try some of this? It’s good.
Literally: “this, + a little + eat (and) + won’t see + か. + tasty + よ.”
へえ。 じゃあ、 ひとくち ちょうだい。
Is it? I’ll have a bite then, please.
Literally: “oh, really? + well then, + a bite + please.”
Careful using that, as it's informal language and is only appropriate in close relationships (or when you're "above" some person socially, like when you're they're boss).
Here's another example:
あした やすみ なら、 きょう は うち に とまらないか。
If you don’t have work tomorrow, why don’t you stay at my house tonight?
Literally: “tomorrow + holiday / day off + if (it’s the case that), + today + は + home + に + won’t stay + か.”
Are you sure that’s all right?
Literally: “good + です + か.”
Personally, I don't add the ～か to the end of my suggestions like this. And I don't hear people doing that very often, either.
BUT! It is possible to sound a little bit feminine when dropping the ～か from ～ないか？... depending on your intonation.
Also, what is considered masculine and feminine language can differ based on the region of Japan you're in, as well. In this case, I wouldn't worry about sounding too feminine by dropping the ～か. However, the best way to match your speech to a gender is to (1) get lots of exposure to Japanese people in the region you will be using it, then (2) copy whatever gender you want to sound like.
Anyway, here's an example with no ～か added to the end:
この マンガ おもしろい よ。 よんで みない？
This manga is good. Why don’t you read it?
Literally: “this + manga + interesting / fun + よ. + read (and) + won’t see?”
じゃあ、 かりる ね。
OK, I’ll borrow it, then.
Literally: “well then, + borrow + ね.”
That's all for this one.
Now let's get out there and make some suggestions!
Also, get excited. Because our next N5 lesson is our final N5 lesson!!
That's right. Once we get through the next N5 lesson, we'll have already covered all of the grammar you need to pass the N5 test. Nice!
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