Could You Please…?: Using て Form Verbs for Making Requests :Sometimes in our daily lives we need to ask someone to do something for us. In today’s lesson, we’re going to learn how to make polite requests and soft commands by using the て (te) form of a verb.  

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Japanese Verb Review

Before we start with the て (te) form, let’s review some common verbs. In Japanese, there are three kinds of verbs: uverbs, ruverbs, and irregular verbs.

Uverbs are verbs that end in “u” (as in “oo”) sounds. Here are some examples of uverbs.

U-VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
手伝うtetsudauto help
待つmatsuto wait
取るtoruto take
飲むnomuto drink
運ぶhakobuto carry
弾くhikuto play (an instrument)
急ぐisoguto hurry
出すdasuto put out

Ru-verbs are verbs that end with the hiragana character る (ru). However, keep in mind that sometimes verbs ending in る can be considered uverbs (like 取る above). Here are a few examples of ruverbs.

RU-VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
教えるoshieruto teach
止めるyameruto stop

And, lastly, these are the irregular verbs.

IRREGULAR VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
するsuruto do
来るkuruto come

Now that we’ve gone over some common verbs, let’s create a few sentences!

毎日私は3時間ギターを弾きます。
Mainichi watashi wa san-jikan gitaa wo hikimasu.
I play the guitar for 3 hours every day.
彼女は試験の前コーヒーを沢山飲みました。
Kanojo wa shiken no mae koohii wo takusan nomimashita.
She drank lots of coffee before the exam.
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Conjugating Verbs into the て Form

Now that we’ve gone over some common verbs, let’s conjugate them into their て form. 

Conjugating verbs into the て form depends on the type of verb you’re using. 

With u-verbs, you replace the last hiragana character with the one according to the chart below. 

GUIDE TO CONVERTING U-VERBS INTO THE て FORM

If it ends in……replace it with…
う ・ つ ・ るu           tsu   ruってtte
む ・ ぬ ・ ぶmu          nu buんでnde
kuいてite
guいでide
suしてshite

NOTE: An exception is the verb 行く (iku, to go), which becomes 行って (itte) (see table below).

Now, let’s take the u-verbs from earlier and conjugate them into their て forms!

U-VERBS (て FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
手伝  ➝ 手伝ってtetsudau  ➝ tetsudatte
  ➝ 待ってmatsu  ➝ matte
  ➝ 取ってtoru  ➝ totte
  ➝ 飲んでnomu  ➝ nonde
  ➝ 運んでhakobu  ➝ hakonde
  ➝ 弾いてhiku  ➝ hiite
  ➝ 急いでisogu  ➝ isoide
  ➝ 出してdasu  ➝ dashite
  ➝ 行ってiku  ➝ itte

With ru-verbs, you replace the final hiragana character る (ru) with て.

RU-VERBS (て FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
教え  ➝ 教えてoshieru  ➝ oshiete
止め  ➝ 止めてyameru  ➝ yamete

And, finally, here are the irregular verbs.

IRREGULAR VERBS (て FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
する  ➝ してsuru  ➝ shite
来る  ➝ 来てkuru  ➝ kite

Making Requests in Japanese

Now that we know how to conjugate verbs into their て form, we can make requests! 

1. ~て

A verb in its て form either by itself or at the end of a sentence is a request or soft command. It is used with people of equal or lower status. Be aware that using a verb in its て form by itself is informal and may come off as a bit blunt if you don’t know the person very well.

Example sentences:

待って!
Matte!
Wait!
急いで!
Isoide!
Hurry up!
止めて!
Yamete!
Stop it!
水を飲んで。
Mizu wo nonde.
Drink water.

2. ~てください

A more polite way of making requests is to attach ください (kudasai) to the end of the verb in its て form. This is also used for people of equal or lower status. ください translates to “please” in English.

Example sentences:

この表現の意味を教えてください。
Kono hyougen no imi wo oshiete kudasai.
Please tell me the meaning of this expression.
料理を手伝ってください。
Ryouri wo tetsudatte kudasai.
Please help me with the cooking.
10時前にゴミを出してください。
Juu-ji mae ni gomi wo dashite kudasai.
Please take the trash out before ten o’clock.

3. ~てくださいませんか。

An even more polite way of making a request is to attach くださいませんか (kudasaimasen ka) to the end of a verb in its て form. This is used for customers, superiors, and people of higher status than the speaker. You can also use this in formal situations. The English translation is “Would you please…?” or “Could you please…?” 

Example sentences:

こちらで少々お待ちくださいませんか。
Kochira de shoushou omachi kudasaimasen ka.
Could you please wait here for a minute?
ワインを持って来てくださいませんか。
Wain wo motte kite kudasaimasen ka.
Could you please bring the wine?
駅まで連れていってくださいませんか。
Eki made tsurete itte kudasaimasen ka.
Would you please take me to the station?

In Summary

One way of making requests and soft commands in Japanese is by conjugating the verb into the て form. 

Conjugating verbs into the て form depends on the type of verb you’re using.

With uverbs, you substitute the final hiragana character with the character according to this chart:

If it ends in……replace it with…
う ・ つ ・ るu           tsu   ruってtte
む ・ ぬ ・ ぶmu          nu buんでnde
kuいてite
guいでide
suしてshite

With ruverbs, you substitute the final る character with て.

And with irregular verbs, する becomes して and 来る becomes 来て.

For informal requests to people of equal or lesser social status, the verb in its て form by itself is sufficient.

For more polite requests, you attach ください to the end of the て form. ください means “please” in English.

For even more polite requests, you attach くださいませんか to the end of the て form. くださいませんか means “Would you please…?” or “Could you please…?” in English.

Now that you know how to make requests in Japanese, it’s time to get out there and practice! Remember, learning something new means absolutely nothing if you don’t get out there and put it into context! So, get out there already and practice, practice, practice

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