Kudasai and Onegaishimasu mean “Please” (ください, おねがいします)
Kudasai and Onegaishimasu are two ways we can say “Please” in Japanese. I will cover them both in this Japanese grammar lesson, as well as the differences between them.
Saying “Please” with Kudasai (ください)
ください (kudasai) is a way to request a favor in Japanese. It is similar to “Please” in English. When we use ください (kudasai), it is placed after the te-form of the verb. It can also can also come after a noun.
(te-form of a verb) + てください
(noun) + をください
kono kaban o motte kudasai.
(Please carry this bag.)
In the above example, もって (motte) is the te-form of the verb もらう (morau) so we should place it before kudasai.
sono kaban o kudasai.
(Can I have that bag, please?)
In the above example, かばん (kaban) is a noun so we just connect it to kudasai with を.
How to find the te-form before adding it to ください (kudasai)
To find the te-form, we need a quick mini-lesson. Verbs that end with いる (iru) or える (eru) are called “Class 2 Verbs”. With this type of verb, we only need to drop the る before adding て (te):
Easy, right? All that’s left is to attach あけて (akete) to ください (kudasai). This gives us あけてください, which means “Please open.”
There are also “Class 1 Verbs” which get modified a little differently. To learn how to do that, I will need to refer to the full lesson (I’ll add a link here later).
Would you like some extra practice with ください? Watch the anime video below and repeat the lines as best you can.
Anime Practice with ください (kudasai)
Saying please with onegaishimasu (おねがいします)
Onegaishimasu (おねがいします) is another way to say “Please” in Japanese. When we use onegaishimasu, we can only use it with a noun. Here is the basic form:
(noun) + をおねがいします
sono kaban o onegaishimasu.
(Can I have that bag, please?)
Onegaishimasu can also be used by itself too:
(I have a favor to ask of you..)
Comparing ください (kudasai) to おねがいします (onegaishimasu)
If ください and おねがいします can both mean “please”, then are how are they different? Although they can both be translated to “please”, there some important things to remember.
Onegaishimasu (おねがいします) is more passive and has a deep cultural meaning
Onegaishimasu is more passive than kudasai and has a deeper cultural use. Using this word is a way to “lower” yourself to someone, similar to a bow. In fact, they are often used together, such as with the case of martial arts, where it is common to say “onegaishimasu” as you bow before the fight. Even on it’s own, it sets a very respectful tone in many situations. It’s common to say 「Hajimemashite. Onegaishimasu.」when first meeting someone. If onegaishimasu is the “spoken bow”, so to speak, then kudasai is much more direct.
Only onegaishimasu is used for asking to speak to someone on the phone
Keiko-san o onegaishimasu.
(I would like to speak with Keiko, please.)
Kudasai and onegaishimasu can both be used to request a noun
Mizu o kudasai.
…is the same as…
Mizu o onegaishimasu.
Only “kudasai” can be used to request a verb
CAUTION: There are a few Japanese learning websites that claim “services should only be requested with onegaishimasu”. Ask any native Japanese speaker and they will tell you that’s not right! Both of these following instructions are perfectly acceptable if you are talking to a Japanese taxi driver:
Toukyou eki made, onegaishimasu.
(To Tokyo Station, please.)
Toukyou eki made, itte kudasai.
(Go to the Tokyo Station, please.)
Onegaishimasu can be used with a verb if we turn it into a noun
If you want to use a verb with “onegaishimasu”, there is one way. You just need to turn the verb into a noun by adding の (no). Changing a verb into a noun is called “verb nominalization” and you will come across this a lot in Japanese. In English, it is similar to taking a verb like “arrive” and nominalizing it into “arrival”. Arrival can then be defined as “the action of arriving“. This modification has transformed an verb (action) into a noun (thing).
Let’s try this in Japanese now.. since that’s what you’re here to learn. I will take the verb たべる (taberu, which means “to eat”), and change it into a noun by attaching の (no). たべる (taberu) becomes たべるの (taberu no). Since we are allowed to use nouns with “onegaishimasu”, then the following example is perfectly acceptable:
taberu no onegaishimasu.
(Eat it, please.)
たべる (taberu no) becomes a noun, so it becomes compatible with “onegaishimasu”. Remember, we can use our flexible friend, てください to ask the same question:
(Eat it, please.)
Diving into verb nominalization for this lesson is a good way to show you an interesting feature of the Japanese language. We can jump back and forth between verbs and nouns effortlessly. As I showed you, switching between kudasai and onegaishimasu was as simple as changing a verb into a noun with the easy addition of の (no).
The casual version of onegaishimasu is onegai
With informal (casual) speech, onegaishimasu (おねがいします) can be significantly shortened to onegai (おねがい).
kono bideo geemu o katte, onegai!
(Please buy this video game for me!)
More Examples of ください (kudasai) and おねがいします (onegaishimasu)
Ashita kite kudasai.
(Please come tomorrow.)
okanjou o onegaishimasu
(May I have the check, please?)
shoushou omachi kudasai.
(Please wait a moment.)
(literally: Please be kind to me.)
douzo suwatte kudasai.
(Please go ahead and sit down.)
yukkuri itte kudasai.
(Please say it more slowly.)
yoyaku o onegaishimasu
(I would like to make an appointment, please.)
hitotsu dake, kudasai.
(Just one, please.)
kyuukyuusha o onegaishimasu
(Please send me an ambulance.)
piza o nimai kudasai.
(Two slices of pizza, please.)
bengoshi o onegaishimasu
(May I have a lawyer, please.)
akai kaban o kudasai.
(The red bag, please.)
Menyu o onegaishimasu
(May I have a menu, please?)
nihongo o oshiete kudasai.
(Please teach me Japanese.)
Add me to Skype. We can practice ください and おねがいします in real conversation! Book a lesson with me now:
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