The phrase “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” (よろしくお願いします) has no set English translation but is used frequently in Japanese daily life. If you spend enough time in Japan, you’ll soon see that this phrase is up there with “Hello” and “Goodbye” in regard to common usage. Therefore, in this article, we’ll be breaking down this important expression to teach you what it means and when to say it.
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu
Please be nice to me!Thank you very much.
- 1 Japanese Useful Phrase: Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu
- 2 What Does “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” Mean (Literally)?
- 3 What Does “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” Mean (Not Literally)?
- 4 A Kanji Breakdown of “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu”
- 5 What Does “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” Say About Japanese Culture?
- 6 Learn Japanese online with BondLingo?
Japanese Useful Phrase: Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu
This phrase [Japanese Useful Phrase: Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu(よろしくお願いします)] has no good English translation, but it is used all the time in Japanese. You’ll literally be using this phrase every day if you decide to move to Japan. So in this article, we’ll break down this phrase so you know exactly what you’re saying and exactly when to say it.
What Does “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” Mean (Literally)?
Let’s look at the grammar first. The initial part comes from the word “yoroshii” (宜しい), which is an adjective meaning “good, alright, very well.” It’s a more formal version of the word “yoi” (良い), which also means “good.”
The second part of the phrase is not as complicated as you might think. The main verb used is “negau” (願う), which means “to request, to implore.” Negau can also mean “to ask,” or “to hope” when used in formal situations. Wow, that’s a lot of meanings for one word! No wonder it’s so difficult to translate it into English!
To get “onegaishimasu,” you take the negau verb and change it into the -masu form. This is done by removing the final hiragana character “u” (う) and replacing it with “i” (い). After that, you would normally add “masu,” but we don’t need to in this situation. Instead, we just leave it in its noun form “negai.”
Next, you add “o-” (お) to the beginning to create onegai. Adding “o” to the beginning of a noun in Japanese adds formality. Lastly, you add the verb “shimasu” (します) to the end, which is a formal conjugation of the verb “suru” (する), meaning “to do.” Therefore, as a result, we have “onegaishimasu,” which is often translated to “I humbly request,” or even just “Please.” Now that you know the meaning of both “yoroshiku” and “onegaishimasu,” it may sound a bit strange putting the two together. If you took the two words literally, you would end up with a translation like “I humbly request to do well,” or perhaps “I ask to do well.” “I hope to do well,” seems to make the most sense, but there is a bit more nuance that comes into play with “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
What Does “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” Mean (Not Literally)?
A major part of understanding Japanese is knowing that context is as important—if not more—as the actual words used. Let’s take a look at some situations that, based on the context, would change the meaning of the phrase.
One common situation that calls for a “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is during a business exchange, where the two parties are introducing themselves for the first time.
Let’s say a Japanese person (let’s call him Mr. Salesman) works for a tire company and wants to sell tires to the Toyota company. He will arrange a meeting with one of the managers (Mr. Manager), and the two will meet in Mr. Manager’s office. When Mr. Salesman arrives, the first thing he’ll do is introduce himself by saying his name and what company he works for. He will then present Mr. Manager with his business card and at the same time bow and say “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
Judging by this context, we can translate the phrase to something like, “Please treat me kindly,” or “I hope our future business relations go well.” Mr. Salesman wants his meeting with Mr. Manager to be a success and hopefully get a Grade A lifelong customer out of the deal. Therefore, he is expressing this wish to Mr. Manager by saying “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” In English, I guess you could say, “I really hope you buy my product,” but in accordance with western culture, that would come off as a bit overkill, so we don’t say it. However, this is a common expression in Japan and is used in this type of situation every single time without fail. You would come off as rude or indifferent if you didn’t say it.
Another situation in which “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is used is at the end of a self-introduction (jiko shoukai, 自己紹介).
Let’s say it’s your first day at a new job in Japan. You walk through the glass front doors looking all professional wearing your suit and carrying a briefcase. Some other people wearing suits greet you in the hallway, but you haven’t been formally introduced to any of them yet. Later, once your supervisor has shown you to your desk and you have a chance to get situated, it’s time for the morning meeting.
Everyone gathers in the meeting room around the manager, some people make announcements, and, finally, it’s time for you to give your self-introduction. You tell them your name, where you’re from, and that you’re proud to be working for such a fine company. Once you’re finished, you bow and say, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
In this context, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” would translate to something like, “I hope you will treat me well as your new co-worker/employee.” It’s a way of expressing that you hope for something good and long-lasting to come of this experience.
On top of that, your new co-workers will return your “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” with their own. This is because they also want you as a new employee to be hardworking, a good team player, and a positive addition to the company. They want your working there to be a good experience for them and for the relationship to last into the future.
Another common situation that calls for a “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is when asking someone to do something for you.
Let’s say you’re at work, and your co-worker needs some copies made for a handout for a meeting that afternoon. S/he may set a stack of papers on your desk, say what they want you to do, then end the interaction with, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
In this context, the phrase would mean something like, “Thanks in advance for helping me out.” They’re expressing their hope that you will make the copies in a timely manner and do a good job at it. “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is quite formal and reserved for situations like work, business meetings, and speeches in front of lots of people. However, not all situations call for this polite phrase as is. In more casual situations, such as with friends, you can shorten it to just “Yoroshiku,” and it still retains the same meaning while remaining light and friendly.
Examples of Yoroshiku onegaishimasu:
Kaigi wo hajimemashou. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
Let's start the Meeting. Let’s make this a good one.
Konnichiwa. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
(At the office) Hello. Nice to meet you. I hope to have a great experience working with all of you.
Ashita nomi ni ikimashou. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
Let's have a drink tomorrow. Please do this for me so that we have the opportunity to become better acquainted.
Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
I hope to have a long and outstanding relationship with you! Thank you very much.
Hajimemashite. A desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
Nice to meet you. I’m A. I hope our relationship will be a good one.
Kochirakoso. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
Likewise. I also hope that our relationship will be a good one.
Densha ga okurete imasu node chikoku shimasu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
I'm going to be late today because the trains are running late. Thank you for your understanding.
A Kanji Breakdown of “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu”
The first kanji character is 宜 (gi), which is made up of the two radicals: 宀 (ben) and 且(sho). 宀 means “shaped crown,” and 且 means “moreover; also; furthermore.” Put them together, and you get 宜, which means “best regards; good.”
The fifth character is 願 (gan), which is made up of four radicals: 厂 (kan), 白 (haku), 小 (shou), and 頁 (ketsu). 厂 means “trailing cliff,” 白 means “white,” 小 means “little; small,” and 頁 means “page; leaf.” Together they form 願, which means “petition; request; vow; wish; hope.”
Now that we know a bit more about the meaning behind the Japanese characters, let’s move on to what the phrase means in practice.
What Does “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” Say About Japanese Culture?
To me, this phrase says a lot about Japanese culture. It’s a phrase that is: 1) very formal, and 2) vague.
Because the phrase is a) very formal, and b) vague, it speaks a lot about the character of the Japanese and what they value in their culture.
Compared to other ways of formal speaking, this phrase in particular comes off as especially humble and polite. It is the same kind of language used from addressing your peers in a school setting all the way to addressing the emperor. The Japanese value polite speech and expressions of humbleness to such a degree that they try to incorporate it in as many situations as possible.
The vagueness of the phrase is also something particularly Japanese. As stated above, the context of what is being said holds the same weight—if not more—as the actual words used, and “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is a perfect example. When using this phrase, there is no need to explain what you mean in so many words or be specific about your hopes and intentions. You simply state the phrase, and the listener interprets the meaning based on the context. It is obvious to the Japanese that your expectations when meeting a new business partner will be different than, say, meeting a lawyer to discuss a criminal case.
“Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is one of the most important phrases to learn for anyone studying Japanese, as it is essential to the culture. Many other important phrases for beginners are out there, but this one in particular is so distinctly Japanese that we can’t even reliably translate it into English!
Adding this phrase to your daily vocabulary will not only impress the Japanese, it will also help you start off on the right foot with all prospective Japanese friends and associates.
Now that you’ve learned a new and useful Japanese phrase, it’s time to get out there and practice! There’s no better way of mastering a new language than to test out what you’ve learned in the field to see if you’re doing it correctly. If you decide to sign up for Japanese classes, try saying “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” at the end of your self-introduction. I guarantee your teacher will be very happy. They may even put you down on their list as “too advanced for this class.” Haha, I’m only kidding, but they will be impressed nonetheless.
Dewa, mina-san, yoroshiku onegaishimasu!