We are made to believe that adding a “kudasai” to a sentence makes it a tad bit more polite…is it rude? Can I use “onegaishimasu” instead? Make it through the end of this blog so we can find out together.

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Overview :Is Kudasai(ください) rude?

Japan is known for having a culture that revolves around respect. Japanese students are usually taught that your Japanese politeness level changes depending on who you are talking to–this is a key factor in today’s blog. We were taught that adding the phrase “-kudasai”, makes our overall statement polite. But, can “-kudasai” be considered rude? We are taught that there are 3 main levels of politeness in Japan. We won’t go into detail about these three levels but we will go through how to properly say “please” in Japanese without hopefully, insulting anyone! We will be talking about the different phrases for “-kudasai” and we will also be talking about “onegaishimasu”– another way to say please in Japanese.

〜ください (-kudasai)

Japanese Common Phrases – Coffee please コーヒーください [Koohii kudasai] | Japanese lesson

This is probably one of the most commonly used and heard phrases in our blog today. This is one of the easiest ones to use and one of the first few phrases we learn when we start learning Japanese. The two phrases below are essentially used when you are making a request to a friend, colleague, or someone who has a lower social rank/ status than you–it’s used when requesting for something you know you are entitled to. In a sense, this is polite but shouldn’t be used when talking to a superior, someone that is of a higher social rank than yourself, and someone you don’t know well.: 

(verb -て form) + kudasai = “Please…”

朝ごはんを食べてください。
Asa gohan wo tabete kudasai. 
Please eat breakfast.
薬を飲んでください。
Kusuri wo nonde kudasai.
Please drink(take) your medicine.
日本語を勉強してください。
Nihongo wo benkyou shite kudasai.
Please study Japanese.

(noun) + を + kudasai = “Please give me…”

 水をください。 
Mizu wo kudasai.
Please give me water.
 ペンをください。 
Pen wo kudasai.
Please give me a pen.
お茶をください。
Ocha wo kudasai.
Tea, please.

This brings us to another phrase where “-kudasai” is used. Although this uses kudasai as well, the following phrase is considered to be more polite compared to the other two above, and can be used with superiors and people of higher social ranking. Please find the sentence pattern below. Be mindful of using 〜お or 〜ご as the usage differs depending on the word. 

(お・御) verb(masu) + kudasai = “Please…”

ここにお名前をお書きください。
Koko ni onamae wo wo kaki kudasai.
Please write your name here.
少々お待ちください
Shou shou o machi kudasai.
Please wait a moment.
ドアが閉まります。ご注意ください
Doa ga shimarimasu. Go chui kudasai.
The doors are closing. Please be careful.

So… Is -kudasai rude? As you guessed, it isn’t! You just need to know which phrase to use depending on who you’re talking to! Of course, kudasai isn’t the only way to say “please” in Japanese. Please continue reading to see what other phrases we can use!

お願いします (onegaishimasu)

As mentioned before, -kudasai is probably the more common form of saying please. Onegaishimasu, however, is a more polite and formal way to say please and is technically used when you are requesting a favor from someone or when you are requesting someone to do something you cannot do yourself. This can also be used if you are speaking to a superior or someone you do not know well. This is best used when ordering from a restaurant, giving directions to a cab driver, or when you are requesting service. Please take a look at the sample sentences below. 

(noun) + を + onegaishimasu = “Please give me…”

水をお願いします。 
Mizu wo onegaishimasu.
Please give me water.
ペンをお願いします。 
Pen wo onegaishimasu
Please give me a pen.
お茶をお願いします。
Ocha wo onegaishimasu.
Tea, please.

(*you can drop the を when ordering food)

(phrase) + onegaishimasu = “Please …”

速達便でお願いします。
Sokutatsubin de onegaishimasu.
Please send it by special delivery.
窓側の席をお願いします。
Mado gawa no seki wo onegaishimasu.
I would like a window seat, please.
西新宿駅までお願いします。
Nishi-Shinjuku eki made onegaishimasu.

Another way to use “onegaishimasu” is when you are looking for someone and asking formally. This can be used when you are looking for someone on the phone and also when you are looking for someone while talking to a receptionist or someone with a similar role. Please look below for some sentence examples.

(name) + を+ kudasai = “ I would like to speak with…”

ゆきさんをお願いします。 
Yuki san wo onegaishimasu.
I would like to speak with Yuki, please.
アナスミスをお願いします。 
Ana Sumisu wo onegaishimasu.
I would like to speak with Ana Smith, please.
マリさんをお願いします。 
Mari san wo onegaishimasu
I would like to speak with Mari, please.

Actually, “onegaishimasu” can also be used with a verb, but only if we turn the verb into a noun. We actually do something similar in English– an example can be how we nominalize the word “depart” as it will then become “departure”. This will then mean “that action of departing”, which has then become a noun. It’s a bit more complicated in English but it is easier in Japanese! This can be possible by adding a の after the verb. Please see the examples below.

食べるのお願いします。
Taberu no onegaishimasu.
Eat it, please.
買うのお願いします。 
Kau no onegaishimasu.
Buy it, please.
見るのお願いします。
Miru no onegaishimasu.
Look, please.

Summary

Kudasai is not rude in any sense but one does have to be careful with the type of Japanese you use in different situations. You just need to know how to use the Japanese you knoe correctly, who to use them with, and when the appropriate time to use it is. Remember, “Please” can be expressed by using the phrases “kudasai” or “onegaishimasu”. These two phrases will not only increase your fluency, but it will also help you build relationships with Japanese people by showing them respect.

Always be kind and try to express yourself through actions in the case you’re not good at expressing yourself through talking yet. I’m sure your effort in learning and using the language will help you one way or another– just be as genuine as you can! 諦めないで、皆さん!(Akiraminaide minnasan!: Don’t give up, everyone!)

Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo

Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo

Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo

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