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どうぞ vs ください vs おねがいします

techanmac
Asked 4 years ago

Can someone help me understand the difference between these words?

They seem to all be a variation on "please" used in different contexts, but I am unclear on the exact function and specific meaning of each.

If ande.davi's answer doesn't totally answer your question, then come by the live chat with Masako today at 2pm EST (the local time for the chat can be seen in the banner on your account page). Masako is a native Japanese speaker so she is very helpful for nuanced questions like this. :)

Taylor A.
Commented 4 years ago

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

1 Answer

11
Votes
+2750

By no means am I an expert but they tend to be quite contextual.

"Douzo" means "by all means".  It's used when giving people something as invitation to receive it.  Also "kochira douzo" means "this way please" (lit. "this way by all means").

 

"Kudasai" comes from the keigo version of "kureru" (kudasaru) which is stupidly difficult because of how it's used in conjunction with other verbs (in English we would normally say XYZ "to/for me") although the base meaning is "give me". 

So when you use "kudasai" it means either "I humbly ask you give me XYZ" or "I humbly ask you do this for me".  If you're in a shop and you want something (biiru wo kudasai) or want someone to do something (nete kudasai) this is the one you use.  It's quite straight-forward.  In common English for both of these situations we would just say "please".

"Onegaishimasu" and its variants literally mean "if it pleases you" and it's best to use it as such.  It's actually more of a "many thanks in advance" sort of thing I find or a simple substitute for "kudasai" on a lot of occasions.

 

Here's an example of all three within the context (golden rule of Japanese: EVERYTHING is contextual) of a restaurant setting.

Waitress = W, M = me

W: (*hands warm towel*) Hai douzo.  Nani ga yoroshii desu ka.
M: Toriaezu namabiiru wo kudasai.  Ato higawari ranchi setto de onegaishimasu or Ato higawari ranchi setto wo kudasai. (Note the use of the de/wo articles there however)
W: Hai, higawari ranchi setto desu.
M: Onegaishimasu!

There are other ways of saying please as well... Vte + kureru, Vte + itadakeru, the slightly comical/just about polite (think "gimme" or "giz a" if you're a UK English speaker) "choudai".  Again use of any of these is heavily contextual depending on the situation and your relationship to the person your speaking to.

If it's still confusing that's perfectly alright - it's one of them things where you've got to have spent time in the country to really work out the nuances.  Which admittedly I'm still doing myself but I hope this has helped!

 

 

番長
Answered 4 years ago