So, how do you ask for a favor?

For example when I’m in some tourist location and want to ask a random Japanese passerby to take a picture for me. What would I use? Kureru, ageru, morau, itadakimasu?

[すみません,写真は撮っていただけませんか?]

I guess this should be okay or am I mistaken?

3 Likes

てください will get you 99% of the way there.

1 Like

Yes, but not in this case. There is a better way to ask (when asking from a random person) by making it into a negative question.

1 Like

The negative tends implies you want them to participate in the action.
It depends on what you mean. If you want them to take a picture of you then 撮ってくださいshould be fine, whereas 撮っていただけませんかis more like take the picture on your behalf.

As long as you make it clear that you want to be in the photo they take either is ok. Unless you really just mean that you want them to use their awesome photography skills to take a landscape for you.

If you rephrase it then it’s fine.

私達の写真を撮ってくだい。
Please take our picture.
If you say it like that it’s really obvious you mean your group, but it’s a bit direct.

Vs

私達の写真を撮っていただけませんか?
Would you please take our picture (for us).
Which is also fine and less direct.

Does that help?

2 Likes

May I ask where on the politeness scale 「写真を撮ってもらっても良いですか?」would fall? It’s how I’ve been taught to say, “Could you take a photo for me?”

1 Like

It’s not the height of formality, but it is polite enough to say to strangers.

A more formal (i.e. humble) way to say it would be:

すみません。写真を撮っていただけませんか。

Since いただく is a humble form of もらう.

5 Likes

That is precisely it!

1 Like

usinfg ませんか this is usually works as well

1 Like

Hey and sorry for the super slow answer :grin:
@Kuromaku @Momiji @Anfema @Sidgr @Kagrenac

Yes, you are right, 写真を撮っていただけませんか? is a common way of asking an unknown person to take a photo for you.

ください would be also ok, but いただけませんか is even more polite.

And as a bonus, ranking from least to the most polite expressions used when asking, like many said, the negatives are considered more polite:
て(just て form, used by men and women)/てくれ(mostly used by men)
てくれる
てくれない
てもらえる
てもらえない
てくれますか
てくれませんか
てください (there is a negative version - くださらない, but it is not used at all)
てもらえますか
てもらえませんか
てくださいますか
てくださいませんか?
ていただけますか
ていただけませんか?

31 Likes

Honestly this could use a sticky or something, this is a super concise way to frame levels of politeness that I have not seen anywhere.

3 Likes

Hey :slight_smile:

We have added a link to this post in specific grammar points, as you suggested :grin:

Cheers!

4 Likes

Actually just laughed out loud. If anyone said to me 「写真を撮ってくださらない?」 I think I’d punch them in the face! They would obviously just be trying to look all pretentious :joy:

Not literally of course…

1 Like

I’m a bit surprised on the politeness list that ください is listed somewhere in the middle, and even above phrases that I thought were much more polite (like くれませんか). I imagined that ください was like a polite command (akin to “please do such-and-such”), whereas the rest ending in か would be more polite since they are phrased as questions, and so function more like requests (like “would you do such-and-such (for me)?”). If a stranger walked up to me and said, “please take our photo”, even with the “please”, I would definitely find it more rude than if he had phrased it as a question that I had the option of refusing.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

2 Likes

I would say ください is very normal - somewhere around the same politeness level as using ます on a verb or putting です on the end of a sentence. You should probably use it with work colleagues and people you don’t know well, but not with friends or high-up superiors. I think I too would place it right in the middle of that politeness scale.

1 Like

But would you consider them both requests? For example, as in my previous scenario, would approaching a stranger with 写真をとってください be more polite than 写真をとってくれますか? Even though the ください is maybe more humble, I have trouble believing that a command would come across as well as a request.

I know I could always just opt to use a more polite request like てもらえますか, but I’d like to actually understand why ください is more polite than some forms of requests, if that is truly the case.

1 Like

ください is definitely more polite than くれます. According to my teachers くださる is a more polite version of くれます. And while ください might be in command form, it isn’t perceived as such. Remember that language develops organically and that means it won’t be 100% consistent.

Also overall if you have a request and don’t use ください, at least use the negative masu form: くれませんか or もらえませんか. From what I’ve learnt so far that seems much more common no matter the politeness level.

1 Like

Yes of course you wouldn’t approach a stranger and say 写真を撮ってください. The phrases listed above have some nuance in terms of meaning and context but I totally agree with the politeness order.
When approaching a stranger I would say 写真を撮ってもらってもいいですか or 写真を撮ってくれませんか but if you wanted to go into the super mega polite form, you can go as far as to say 写真を撮ってくださいませんか. I wouldn’t use this in an everyday situation though.
Of course you’ll know that ください and くださいませんか have different nuances (ください has more of an imperative nuance where as くださいませんか has more of a non-obligatory one) so it’s just a case of judging the situation.

3 Likes

@MissDagger @matt_in_mito So we have two different interpretations on the same subject! Interesting. Thanks for your thoughts. I wonder if anyone else would weigh in.

1 Like

Go with @matt_in_mito on this. My opinion is that he is more knowledgeable than me, and I would agree that there are better ways to ask someone to take a picture for you than just using ください. I was mostly trying to point out that ください is definitely polite, and not rude or discourteous. There are, of course, more polite ones (and less so) and which to use depends on who you talk to and your station towards them.

Putting ください in the middle of the scale seems right to me from what I’ve learnt so far.

2 Likes

I think we’re basically in agreement. ください is polite but with a more imperative nuance.

For example, a teacher might ask of their students: 宿題を出してください。It’s expected that the students will get their homework out so ください is used.

Another example, at a restaurant, someone may say to the waiter ビールをください. Of course it is a restaurant so it is expected that the waiter will bring the beer.

But if it’s 写真を撮ってください, it would have to be a photographer or someone doing it in a capacity that they would almost be expected to do it. I might even say that to a waiter in a restaurant because they are expected to make the customer experience good in any way they can, but not to a stranger on the street.

Ok so how about this… if you asked a stranger on the street to take a picture for you and they said ‘oh sorry I’m in a rush,’ you would probably respond by saying ‘no problem’ and simply ask the next person. That is the kind of situation in which the request nuance would come in in Japanese. If you said to someone in a restaurant ‘can I please have a beer’ and they said ‘well… I’m a bit busy at the moment…’ you would be shocked! Hence why in this situation ください would be used.

Have I managed to put across my thoughts concisely? :joy:

4 Likes