Question about grammar for "may I"

I have a ghost review that I keep getting wrong for いたす

I’m not missing the いたす part, but the translation is throwing me:


May I take your baggage?

I always think てもいい when I see “may I”. ましょうか makes me think “shall we”?

Am I getting tripped up on nuance here?


I feel like てもいい is a very casual expression used to ask for permission if you can do something by yourself, e.g “May I sit here?” In this case you are asking if you can help. Same style is used for「 何かお手伝いしましょうか?」 which translates roughly to “Can I help you in any way?”

Better not get too fixated in the English translation. It is not 1-to-1 most of the time.

@emonk @sandalwood
Hey! (@emonk long time no see :partying_face: )

I have changed the translation from “may” to “shall” to avoid confusion, and fit the grammar point better :+1:

You can make てもいい more polite by replacing いい with よろしいでしょうか.

  1. お荷物をおもちいたしましょうか?
  2. お荷物を持ってもよろしいでしょうか?

The difference lies in that the former is for a complimentary offer of help while the later is asking for permission. So, in this case, ても sounds a bit unnatural.

I hope it helps,


The key here is that the ‘may I take your baggage’ implies that you are a service person. You are correct, てもいい is MUCH more common for casually asking if something may be done. But you will never hear anyone in pretty much any job in Japan say てもいい to a customer.

To break this down easily, think of ましょう and おう (the casual version) as statements, rather than literally meaning let’s. Literally all they do is turn a sentence into a statment. Think of it like putting emphasis on the I’ll, in I’ll grab a drink.

I’LL grab a drink … as for you? (the as for you bit is implied)
I’LL get you bags… will I? (the polite form just making it clear it is a question)

This is why this grammar point also means ‘shall’, because that is really all it ever is. The question form is only created by your tone of voice.


Just a random extra reply to this thread. one grammar point I used to ALWAYS get confused about until I accepted でしょう as a simple statement, rather than let’s, is the polite version of どうですか. This is いかがでしょうか. The meanings are 100% the same but いかが combined with でしょう used to always confuse me.

いかが being the less common version of どう。I only bring this to your attention because it is unbelieavably common in video games and anime.


Thank you for your replies. My understanding of Japanese grammar is really simplistic at this point it seems. I took two years in college, and we finished Genki II and dipped our toes into Tobira. That was almost a year ago now, so when paths got added here I started using those to help keep all that grammar kicking around in my head, but there’s still a lot about practical usage that I haven’t been exposed to.