How to say please in Japanese

If you’re considering a visit to Japan, knowing how to say please in Japanese will go a long way to making your stay easy.

One thing Japanese folks have a knack for is politeness.

Be it at their Onsen, Ryokan, or homes, they observe politeness towards their family, friends, and strangers.

In fact, they are naturally very polite people and would try to avoid any kind of conflict, especially in the public eye.

Interestingly, there are various ways to say please in Japanese. So in this post, you’ll learn how to say the different ways to say them, and the situations appropriate for each one.

1. Kudasai (下さい ).

Kudasai is one way to say please in Japanese. It is written in its hiragana form instead of in its kanji form. “Kudasai” can be understood to mean “please give me” or “please do something for me.”

It is quite common in Japan, so you would most likely use it and hear it every day. Like “Onegai shimasu,” Kudasai is also used in formal situations. However, this word does not stand on its own. Other words most often accompany it.

Using “kudasai” in a Sentence

  • Sore o kudasai  – “Please give me that.”
  • Ocha o kudasai  – “I’ll have green tea, please.”
  • Shorui no kopi o kudasai – “Please give me a copy of the document.”
  • Suwatte kudasai  – “Please sit down.”
  • Hanashi o kiite kudasai yo! – “Please listen to what I am saying”

If you’re in a restaurant as a customer, you can use “kudasai” to politely ask for something. For instance;

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Shouyu o kudasai – “please pass the soy sauce.”

You can also use hand gestures to point at what you want. You can say, “Sore o kudasai,” which means “please give me that” (you can say this, pointing at the exact item you want. It saves you the stress of looking up names during your time in Japan.)

2. Onegai shimasu ( お願いします).

The standard, reasonable way to say “please” in Japanese is “Onegai shimasu.

“It is the basic way to say “please” when making a request or politely asking for a favor.

Onegai shimasu, when translated into English, means “I request you do me a favor.”

“Onegai shimasu” is technically more of a phrase where Onegai means “please or” while shimasu is the verb to do. Interestingly, you can use this phrase in a casual and formal setting.

Onegai shimasu is a much more formal way of asking for a favor or service than kudasai is. To use this word in a more formal setting, you can change the verb “shimasu.”

For instance, you can say “onegai itashimasu,” which translates to “please take care of us.”This amplifies the formality and is a more polite way to ask for a favor or service. In a casual setting, just “Onegai” will do the trick.

However, you should know that using “onegai” is only appropriate when used among friends and family. You would never hear such in a formal setting, so ensure that you differentiate the context.

Using “onegai shimasu” in a sentence

  • Go chuumon wa omochi kaeri desu ka? Onegai shimasu – “Please, would you like this to go?” (formal)
  • Okaasan, Onegai! – “Please mom!” (casual)
  • Okyaku-sama no go kyouryoko o Onegai itashimasu -” Customers, please cooperate with the rules” (formal)
  • Kohi Onegai – “Coffee please!” (casual)
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link to 7 Ways To Say Dog in Japanese 

3. Choudai (頂戴).

Choudai is more of an informal way to say please in Japanese.

You can use it with your friends and family.

It is often spelled in a couple of ways, including hiragana and kanji. However, it is most often spelled in hiragana as (ちょうだい).

Interestingly, this way of saying please is also gender specific.

If you’re in Japan, you will notice women use “choudai” more than men.

Choudai is a humble word used typically by women to say “please” endearingly. So if you’re a guy, try not to use choudai when speaking Japanese.

Using “choudai” in a Sentence

  • Hito kuchi choudai! – “Give me a bite of that, please!” You can also say “chotto choudai” if you want to share your friend’s food. “Chotto choudai” means “can I have a bit?”
  • Kamatte choudai – “Someone hang out with me, please.” ( this is the Japanese equivalent for saying “I’m bored”) Interestingly, this phrase is used to tell your friends that you’re free.
  • Tabete choudai – “please eat”
  • Misete choudai – “show me, please”

You can also use choudai to ask your friend to do something. For instance, “pen choudai” translates to “give me a pen, please . You can change the politeness by adding Japanese honorific stems to “Choudai.”

4. Douzo ( どうぞ)

This way of saying please in Japanese is quite peculiar. It has two primary uses. The first is to offer something to someone, as is often said in English, “please take” or “please help yourself,” and the other is a way to give permission, as in “go ahead, please.”

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In Japan, employees often use “Douzo” to politely usher in customers. They also use it when they want to persuade them to try something or look at something.

When a waiter serves water to a customer, they often say “Mizu Douzo,” which translates to “here’s some water .”

In a formal speech, Douzo is used to add extra politeness in combination with Onegai shimasu and kudasai.

5. Puurizu ( プリーズ).

This way of saying please is revised from its English form.

As a foreigner in Japan, you’ll most often hear “puurizu” in place of “please .”

This is because it is like saying “please” but with a Japanese-friendly pronunciation.

In Japanese, another formal way of saying “please” is “Douka .”It denotes “sincere begging” and can be used to ask for a service.

Conclusion.

To say please in Japanese may seem difficult, seeing that there are many ways of saying it, unlike the English version, which is “please .”

However, once you practice, you’d become an expert user in no time. Apart from using please, there are other ways to make polite requests in Japanese.