What is the difference between Kudasai and Onegai?

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So much kudasai [ください] and onegaishimasu [お願いします] are used when placing an order, and can be literally translated as "Please". But do you know the difference between the 2? When to use each one? In this article we will answer this big question.

What does kudasai mean?

The word kudasai [下さい] can be literally translated as please give or do something for me. It can be used either to ask for specific things like objects or to ask someone for a favor.

Kudasai is the way imperative (命令形) of the verb Kudasaru, which is the humble way of describing someone giving something to you. As the low character [下] illustrates, you are literally passing something down to someone. The verb can mean both to give and to receive.

The Japanese language has a construction where elastic verbs such as ageru, kureru, morau, sashiageru, kudasaru and itadaku associated with shape you [て] gives the meaning of doing something for the benefit of some person.

What is the difference between kudasai and onegai?

What does onegai mean?

onegai [お願い] comes from the ideogram [願] which means desire, vow, request and prayer. The word can literally mean request and desire, as well as please. O shimasu It's from suru verb which means to do.

"onegai” is also derived from the verb “denied" which literally means "to pray for (something)" or "to desire (something)". There is also the noun without the [お] which is intended to be honorable and to give politeness to the word.

onegai is most often used to ask for help in certain situations that involve interacting, learning, and communicating with another person.

In keeping with the kanji concept, it kind of establishes a plea, so that the other party doesn't feel obligated. In Japanese culture it is considered rude to ask or impose things, for that one needs to beg.

What is the difference between kudasai and onegai?

The phrases below can be used either the onegai like the Kudasai:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Kitte wo kudasai.
切手をください.
Please give me stamps.
Kitte (wo) onegaishimasu.
切手(を)お願いします.
Please give me stamps.
Mizu wo kudasai.
水をください.
Water please.
Mizu (wo) onegaishimasu.
水(を)お願いします.
Water please.

The 2 situations can use any of the 2, it is noticed that it is not mandatory to use the wo particle when using onegai. However, there are some situations where only “onegaishimasu” is used.

(1) When asking to do some service.

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Tokyo eki made onegaishimasu. 
東京駅までお願いします。
Tokyo Station, please. (with a taxi driver)
Yoyaku wo onegai dekimasu ka.
予約をお願いできますか。
Can I make a reservation?
Kokusai denwa onegaishimasu.
国際電話お願いします。
Phone call abroad, please.
(on the phone)

(2) When asking to speak to someone on the phone: 

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Kazuko-san onegaishimasu.
和子さんお願いします。
Can I talk to Kazuko?

In verbs in the form “te”, when an action is being asked (such as: listen, speak, answer) the “Kudasai” should be used, in these cases the onegai can not be used.

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Chotto matte kudasai.
ちょっと待ってください。
Wait a moment please.
Nihongo wo Oshiete kudasai.
日本語を教えてください。
Please teach me Japanese.
Ashita kite kudasai.
明日来てください。
Please come tomorrow.

The onegai can be used together with a verb/action if it comes at the beginning of the sentence, in those cases the します (shimasu) is not used. See some examples below:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Onegai, watashi ni hanashite.
お願い、私に話して。
Please talk to me.
Onegai, shinanai de.
お願い、死なないで。
Please don't die.
Nee, onegai.
ねえ、お願い。
Hey, give it to me.

From these examples we can conclude that:

お願いします (onegaishimasu) é usado:

  • When we ask for things, the particle wo [を] is not required;
  • By getting someone's attention; for example, a waiter/waitress;
  • use onegaishimasu when requesting a service that you cannot fulfill;
  • use onegaishimasu when asking someone over the phone;
  • In informal cases, only Onegai can be used;
  • To say onegaishimasu it is as if you were saying, “I entrust this to you”;

ください (kudasai) é usado:

  1. after the particle wo [];
  2. When asking for something that involves an action, along with the verb in the form -you [て];

I hope this article has helped you understand the difference between talking kudasai and onegai. If you liked it share and comment! You might also want to see the 72 different ways to say thank you in Japanese.

Sources: japanese.about.com, japaneseverbconjugator, jisho.org

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