How to ask for a favor / make a request

May 19, 2016 in conversation, Grammar, Japanese manners



= Chotto, senaka no totoro totte moraeru?

= Hey, can you remove the Totoro from my back?

Hi everyone!

Today our guest teacher is the lovely, Rascal.

She will teach you how to ask for a favor or make a request in Japanese.

Rascal先生、よろしく! :maggie-small: 

= Rascal sensei, yoroshiku!

= Thank you, Rascal Sensei!


= Konnichi wa, hajimemashite! Rascal desu.

= Hi, nice to meet you! I’m Rascal.


=  Senaka ga omoi keredomo ganbarimasu.

=My back is heavy,  but I will do my best.

So I will teach you all the forms that you can use when you ask a favor or make a request.

★How to form:

Here is the basic format.


1) Regardless of the formality level, there is a difference between these two forms.

V ( = te)  くれる  ( = kureru) ?

Can you do me a favor by doing something? / Will you do something for me?

V ( = te)  もらえる ( = moraeru)?

Can I receive a favor of your doing something? / Can you do something?

Note: You may not see the difference in English translations.

2) the negative version is more polite than the affirmative version.

Ex. V ( = te)  もらえませんか ?( = moraemasen ka?) is more polite than 

V ( = te)  もらえますか?( = moraemasu ka)?Ex. V ( = te)  くれませんか?( = kuremasen ka?) is more polite than V ( = te)  くれますか?( = kuremasuka)?

3) Vたいんですが (= tain desu ga) is used to show your desire in a subtle way.

 :rrrr: I’d like you to do something

It is more polite than the question form.  ~ か(= ka)?

Ex. V ( = te)  もらいたいんですが ( = moraitain desu ga) is more polite than V ( = te)  + もらえますか? ( = moraemasu ka)

Ex.V ( = te) いただきたいんですが ( = itadakitain desuga)  is more polite than V ( = te)  + いただけますか? ( = itadakemasu ka?)

Note: You can’t make this form with くれる ( = kureru) form.

4) When you request not to do something, you use

Vないで (= naide)

Ex. ホワイトボードは消さないでくれますか

= Howaito boodo wa kesanaide kuremasu ka?

= Can you not erase the whiteboard, please?

Ex. 押さないでもらえる

= Osanai de moraeru?

= Can you not push me? (Please do not push me.)

★Which form to use in the chart.

 :purple:  A: very polite

When you are talking to someone superior, customers, clients or your boss.

Ex. 会員証を見せていただけますか

= Kaiinshou wo misete itadakemasu ka?

= Could you show me your membership card?

Ex. こちらでお待ちいただけますか

= Kochira de omachi itadakemasen ka?

= Could you wait here, please?

 :mm: B: polite

When you talk to strangers, shop attendants, people you don’t know well, coworkers if they are not so close, etc.

Ex. どうぞ、お入りください

= Douzo, ohairi kudasai.

= Please come in.

Ex. この商品を交換してもらえますか

= Kono shouhin wo koukan shite moraemasu ka?

= Can I exchange this product?

 :w: C: casual

Between friends, family, someone who you know very well, / someone younger /close coworkers / subordinates.

Ex. 駅まで送ってくれる

= Eki made okutte kureru?

= Can you take me to the station?

Ex. 千円貸してくれない

= Sen en kashite kurenai?

= Can you lend me 1,000 yen?

 :n: D: male speech/ rough

When you talk to someone you consider to be obviously inferior to you.

Ex. いい加減にしてくれ

= Ii kagen ni shite kure.

= Give me a break! / That’s enough!

★ Asking  a favor:

I know I am a cat but let’s say I want someone to take me out for a walk.

* 私を散歩に連れて行く

= Watashi wo sanpo ni tsurete iku

= to take me out for a walk.

First you make a te-form of 行く( = iku)

:rrrr:  行って ( = itte)

You may not be able to tell the difference by reading the translation, but I will show you how I should ask when changing the formality levels.


Talking to my close friends/ between family / someone inferior (like a dog)

* 散歩に連れて行っ

= Sanpo ni tsurete itte.

= Take me out for a walk.

(This sounds a bit demanding.)

 :u:  (more polite) Giving the listener’s feelings more consideration.


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kureru?

= Can you take me out for a walk?

 :u:  (more polite)

* 散歩に連れていってもらえる

= Sanpo ni tsurete itte moraeru?

= Can you take me out for a walk?

:u: (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kurenai?

= Won’t you take me out for a walk (if you can)?

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte moraenai?

= Won’t you do me the favor of taking me out for a walk (if you can)?

Now if I ask someone that I don’t know so much such as my neighbors…


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kudasai.

= Please take me out for a walk.

 :u:  (more polite) Concerning the listener’s feelings more.


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kuremasuka?

= Would you take me out for a walk?

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte moraemasu ka?

= Could you take me out for a walk?

 :u: (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kuremasen ka?

= Would you take me out for a walk if you can?

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte moraemasen ka?

= Could you take me out for a walk?

 :u: (more polite)

* 散歩に連れていってもらいたいんですが

= Sanpo ni tsurete itte moraitain desuga.

= I’d like you to take me out for a walk.

When you talk to someone superior, like Yukari or queen.

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte kudasaimasen ka?

= Would you take me out for a walk, please?

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurete itte itadakemasen ka?

= Could you take me out for a walk, please?

 :u:  (more polite)


= Sanpo ni tsurte itte itadakitan desu ga.

= I’d like you to take me out for a walk (if you can.)


Recently one of you asked me which form he should use at a convenience store.

He has been using the most polite form A:

Ex. これを温めていただけますか

= Kore wo atatamete itadakemasu ka?

= Could you heat this up?

but his friend told him it was too formal.

There is no correct answer. There are people who would talk to a shop clerk with that form.

But I would use the form B.

Ex. 温めてください

= Atatamete kudasai.

= Please heat this up.

Ex. 温めてくれますか

= Atatamete kuremasuka?

= Can you heat this up for me?

Ex. 温めてもらえますか

= Atatamete moraemasu ka?

= Can you heat this up for me?


When you talk to someone superior, you should watch your language.

Ex. A: 「マギー先生、この作文、添削し。」

= Maggie sensei, kono sakubun, tensaku shite.

= Hey, Maggie. Correct this composition.

Maggie: 「よく聞こえません。」!ase!

= Yoku kikoemasen.

= I can’t hear (you) well.


= Kono sakubun tensaku shite kureru?

= Can you proofread my composition?

Maggie: 「最近、耳が遠くて…」:-?

= Saikin, mimi ga tookute…

= I have been having a hearing problem.

A: 「マギー先生、この作文を添削してもらえますか?」

= Maggie sensei, kono sakubun wo tensaku shite moraemasu ka?

= Maggie Sensei, can you proofread this composition please?

Maggie: 「その作文がどうしましたか?」:roll:

= Sono sakubun ga dou shimashita ka?

= What’s with that composition again?


= Sensei, kono sakubun wo tensaku shite itadakitain desuga.

= Sensei, I’d like you to proofread this composition if you can.

Maggie: 「はい、いいですよ。」!JYANE!

= Hai, ii desu yo.

= OK, I will.

From Maggie: I am just kidding. You can talk to me casually. :)

Ex. 暑いので窓を開けてもらえませんか

= Atsui node mado wo akete moraemasen ka?

= I am hot so can you open the windows please?

Ex. 自分でやってくれる(casual)

= Jibun de yatte kureru?

= Will you do that yourself?

Ex. 2時までにこちらに戻ってきていただけますか (formal)

=Nijji made kochira ni modotte kite itadakemasu ka?

= Could you be back by two, please?

Ex. あと1日待ってもらえる (casual)

= Ato ichinichi matte moraeru?

= Can you wait one more day?

Ex. ちょっと詰め(casual)

= Chotto tsumete.

= Scoot over.

(At a beauty salon)

Ex. あと、1cm切ってもらえますか

= Ato issenchi kitte moraemasu ka?

= Can you cut 1cm more?

(At a massage parlor)

Ex. もっと強く押してくれますか

= Motto tsuyoku oshite kuremasu ka?

= Can you press a little harder?

Ex. 明日までにレッスンを3つ作ってくれない (casual)

= Ashita made ni ressun wo mittsu tsukutte kurenai?

= Can you make three more lessons by tomorrow?

Ex. ちょっと待ってくれ(male/ rough)

= Chotto matte kure!

= Wait up! / Gimme a break! / Just a minute!

Sometimes you add suffix, ( = yo) ,   ( = ne)  or かな(=kana?) in casual conversation.

Ex. かわいい女の子紹介し

= Kawaii onnanoko shoukai shiteyo.

= Introduce me to a cute girl, OK?

Ex. ちゃんと掃除し

= Chanto souji shitene.

= Clean properly, OK?

Ex. ちょっと、見せてくれるかな

= Chotto, misete kureru kana?

= Can you show me a little?

*When you ask for a favor, you may want to add some phrase that shows your concerns about the listener.

* 恐れいりますが  (polite/formal)

= Osore irimasu ga

= I am sorry to trouble you, but…

* 申し訳ありませんが (polite)

= Moushiwake arimasenga

= I am sorry to trouble you but…

 :u: (more casual)

* 申し訳ないけど

= Moushiwake nai kedo

= I am sorry but

* 申し訳ないんだけど

= Moushiwake nain dakedo

* 悪いけど

= Warui kedo


= Waruin dakedo

Ex. 悪いんだけど帰りに卵を買ってきてもらえない (casual)

= Waruin dakedo kaeri ni tamago wo katte kite moraenai?

= I am sorry, but can you  buy me some eggs on the way back home ?


* お忙しいところ申し訳ありませんが  (polite)

= Oisogashii tokoro moushiwake arimasen ga

= I am sorry to ask you when you are so busy


* 忙しいところ、悪いんだけど

= Isogashii tokoro, waruin dakedo

Ex. 忙しいところ、悪いんだけどコピーをとってくれる(casual)

= Isogashii tokoro, waruin dakedo kopii wo totte kureru?

= I am sorry to ask you when you are busy but can you make a copy for me?

*ちょっと ( = chotto)

The literal meaning of ちょっと ( = chotto) is “a little” but it functions to make your request softer.

Ex. ちょっと買い物に行ってき (casual)

= Chotto kaimono ni itte kite.

= Can you go shopping?

★You use these forms to tell someone what to do/ what not to do/complain

Ex. ここでタバコを吸わないでいただけますか

= Koko de tabako wo suwanai de itadakemasu ka?

= Could you not smoke here, please?

Ex. ちょっと黙っていてくれない

= Chotto damatte ite kurenai?

= Can you keep your mouth shut?

Ex. 私のこと、ほっといてもらえる

= Watashi no koto, hottoite moraeru?

= Can you leave me alone?

(Note: ほっといて( = hottoite) is a casual contraction of ほっておいて ( = hotte oite))

★ Other ways to ask for a favor or make a request

When you want someone to do something

*V (= te) ほしいのですが ( = hoshii no desu ga)

( more casual)

* V (= te) ほしいんだけど (= hoshiin dakedo)

Ex. 席を替わってほしいんですが

= Seki wo kawatte hoshiin desuga.

= I’d like you to change the seat if you can…

:u:(more casual)


= Seki wo kawatte hoshiin dakedo.

★When you want something you can just replace V( = te) with a noun.

Ex. レジ袋をもらえますか

= Rejibukuro wo moraemasu ka?

= Can I have a plastic bag?

Ex. 細かいお金をください

= Komakai okane wo kudasai.

= Please give me small change.


maggie-senseiマギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Rascal sensei, arigatou!

= Thank you, Rascal Sensei.


= Mata koko ni kite oshiete moraeru kana?

= I wonder if you can come back here and teach.