20 - Will you help me out with this?

Learning how to make requests in Japanese can be kind of a nightmare.

The problem is that there are so many ways to make requests, and often they require different conjugations, words, sentence constructions--whatever--all resulting in different levels of formality and familiarity.

I don't want to talk about all of that confusing stuff today, though.

Rather, I just want to talk about one formation for making requests that I use pretty much every day:

"te-form verb + くれない?"
"te-form verb" + kurenai?
= Will you [verb] for me? / Could you [verb] for me?

For example, let's say we have:

ティッシュ取ってくれない?
tisshu totte kurenai?
Will you grab me a tissue?
(Literally: "tissue + take + not give?")

The verb くれる (kureru) means "to give," but you only use it when someone else gives you something. Or if someone else gives something to someone who is psychologically "on your team." For example, if a stranger gave Rei $100, she could say くれる (kureru), and I could say くれる (kureru), because psychologically, I'm with her, not with this stranger. The stranger would use the opposite verb for "to give," though: あげる (ageru). Japanese textbooks dedicate whole chapters to this one point, so don't fret if my truncated explanation is not making sense just yet.

Anyways, in this construction, we are using the negative form of くれる (kureru): くれない (kurenai). Then we add a question mark (and rising intonation) to the end: くれない?(kurenai?).

If we wanted a really stiff translation we could say that ティッシュ取ってくれない?(tisshu totte kurenai?) is actually "Won't you grab me a tissue?"

I translated it to "Will you grab me a tissue?" though, because it's pretty casual (though not rude). That is, it's a nice way to ask a person you are very familiar with to do a (usually small) task for you.

As such, it's a construction I find Rei and myself using every single day.

Conjugation City

I'll list a few examples in a second, but first let's look at the verbs in the examples and their te-forms:

取る (toru) = "to take"
dictionary form → te-form
取る → 取って
toru → totte

教える (oshieru) = "to teach"
dictionary form → te-form
教える → 教えて
oshieru → oshiete

出す (dasu) = "to take out"
dictionary form → te-form
出す → 出して
dasu → dashite

来る (kuru) = "to come"
dictionary form → te-form
来る → 来て
kuru → kite

If you don't know how to do verb conjugations yourself yet, you'll probably need a get a beginner's textbook and just trudge through it. Sorry...

Example City

これ教えてくれない?
kore oshiete kurenai?
Will you explain this to me?
(Literally: "this + teach + not give?")
(Note: Rei says this to me sometimes when she needs me to explain something to her that she comes across in English.)

水くんでくれない?
mizu kunde kurenai?
Will you pour me a glass of water?
(Literally: "water + pour + not give?")

(Note: I learned this verb くむ [kumu], "to pour" quite late in my Japanese studies, but I find that I use/hear this exact sentence quite a bit. The kanji version is 汲む, but after much debate, Rei and I decided that hiragana is fine in this case.)
(Note #2: The verb I initially learned for "to pour" was 注ぐ [sosogu], but then I've never really heard it used in a sentence like this one. Maybe it's less about "filling something up" and more about "dropping water into"... I don't know.

ゴミ出してきてくれない?
gomi dashite kite kurenai?
Will you take out the trash?
(Literally: "trash + take out + come + not give?")


(Note: Adding 来る [kuru], "to come"--here written as きて [kite]--onto the te-form of a verb means something like, "go and do [verb] (and come back)." You'll come across this a lot. I should probably write a lesson about it.)

Using This Grammar Yourself

Step #1: Learn some Japanese verbs.

Step #2: Learn how to put them in te-form.

Step #3: Find a Japanese person you don't need to be formal with.

Step #4: Insert verbs into your "te-form + くれない?" formula to make requests.

All we gotta do is take it one sentence at a time, right?

頑張ろう!
ganbarou!
Let's do our best!
(No good translation for this one T_T)


Bonus Phrase:

代わりにやってあげる。
かわり に やって あげる。
I'll do it for you.

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