49 - Making Requests Like a Boss

Yesterday I gave you what some could argue was an overwhelming list of politeness levels for making requests.

Then I left you stranded among all that grammar, left to insert verbs yourself.

Today, however, I've gotten Rei to throw a bunch of verbs into those formulas, which we can look at together.

Awesome Note: Although most of these only include one or two words, these are all full sentences. Part of the reason that spoken Japanese is, at times, so simple is that we can use context to leave out words... which is happening for all of these (very natural-sounding) phrases.

We are dropping off nouns like crazy, in particular. And often times I'm just guessing those nouns based off of imagined context. So you can often think of other translations that are completely different. Also, you'll notice that sometimes I throw in random pleases, in a (futile) effort to match up politeness levels with the Japanese.

OK. Here we go...

Note: We're starting with the most polite constructions and working our way down.

01 ~ていただけませんか

Although I very rarely use this construction, I do hear it a lot.

いただく (itadaku) is a fancy way of saying もらう (morau), "to receive."

In #1 and #2, we have the potential, negative forms of these verbs attaching to the te-form of a verb.

So the literal translations are something like, "Could I not possibly have you VERB?"

kaite itadakemasen ka
Could you possibly fill this out for me, please?

kite itadakemasen ka
Could you possibly come over here, please?

02 ~てもらえませんか

kashite moraemasen ka
Could you possibly lend me some money?

mite moraemasen ka
Could I get you to take a look at this, please?

03 ~てくれませんか

Understanding the difference between もらう (morau, "to receive [from someone]") and くれる (kureru, "to give [me]") is a nightmare for another day.

Notice we're using the negative form again, which ups our politeness level.

akete kuremasen ka
Would you mind opening the window, please? // Could you open this for me, please?

okutte kuremasen ka
Could you give me a ride, please?

04 ~てください

The classic request formula in Japanese! I've always though that it felt a bit direct, to be honest.

It is quite common and polite, though. A nice way to simply say "Please VERB."

nuide kudasai
Please take off your shirt.

mukae ni kite kudasai
Please come pick me up.

05 ~てくれない?

Earlier we had ~てくれませんか (~te kuremasen ka). By using the same verb, again in the negative, but this time in plain form, this becomes a bit less polite. It's still not at all rude, though.

I use this one with Rei quite a bit when I'm (nicely) asking her to do something, like grab me a water bottle out of the fridge, for example.

yatte kurenai?
Will you do it for me? // Will you do this for me?

misete kurenai?
Will you show me? // Can I see your notes?

06 ~てくれる?

Almost the same as the previous request formula, but this one is a little less polite because it's not in negative form. We're not saying "Won't you grab me a water?" Instead, we're saying, "Will you grab me a water?"

tashikamete kureru?
Will you check this for me?

aratte kureru?
Will you wash those for me?

07 ~てくれ

This is a bit rough sounding. You will very rarely hear females use this construction.

It's not rude... if you're talking to someone you're quite familiar with and they are NOT above you in the "social hierarchy," so to speak (e.g. your boss or teacher). But yeah, it's not "clean-sounding."

It's also used, for example, when strongly asking for something, like the "please wake up" example below.

Maybe this should be number #8 or #9... oops.

sutete kure
Throw that away, will you?

okite kure
Wake up.

08 ~て

Pretty much OK all around for casual requests.

Please answer me.

Take this. // Hand me that pen. // Grab me a tissue.

Hey, wake up.

09 Masu-Stem + な

A bit more assertive than #8.

hayaku iki na
You should really go (to the dentist) soon.

mou ne na
Go to sleep already.

10 ~てよ

This would be the same as #8, but adding よ (yo) makes it sound like the speaker is impatient (or insistent). They want the listener to hurry up and do something. Or stop making excuses for not doing something.

oshiete yo
Tell me.

kazoete yo
Count the money.

11 Masu-Stem + なよ

Like #10 makes the nuance more insistent and/or impatient for #8, so too does #11 boost the impatience and insistence of #9... thus making it less polite.

ochitsuki na yo
Calm down.

suwari na yo
Sit down.

12 Masu-Stem + なさい

I NEVER use this.

And yet, it was one of the first request/command formulas I learned. This will only be used by a person of authority speaking down to someone. I hear it most often with parents telling their kids what to do.

Get down from there!

Drink this. // Drink your medicine.

13 Imperative

This is a blunt, bare command. You'll hear it a lot in anime... where people like to say rude stuff before killing each other and whatnot.

We'll look at how to form these verbs some other time.

Get away from me.

ki wo tsukero
Be careful!

14 Extra-Rude Imperative

In my list yesterday, I included 食え (kue), "Eat it!"

This is the same verb form as #13, but I was just pointing out that some words will be more polite than others. Although it's rude to command someone saying 食べろ (tabero), it' s ruder to say 食え (kue).

Similarly, in English, saying "Listen!" is not quite as rude as saying "Die!" Right?

Pay me back! // Where's my money?!


Hopefully those photos gave you a bit of context ^_^

Bonus Phrases

しゃちょう から さしいれ を いただきました。
The company president requested that I perform this task.

おこづかい もらった!
I got my allowance! // I got some pocket money!

おかあさん が バッグ くれた。
My mom gave me a purse [a bag].