What is the difference between Kudasai and Onegai?

So much kudasai [ください] and onegai shimasu [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 -> give and Itadaku associated with shape te [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?

Please [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 is from suru verb which means to do.

Please” 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.

Please 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 Please como o Please:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table sideways with your finger >>
Kitte wo kudasai.
Please give me stamps.
Kitte (wo) onegaishimasu.
Please give me stamps.
Mizu wo kudasai.
Water please.
Mizu (wo) onegaishimasu.
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 sideways with your finger >>
Tokyo eki made onegaishimasu.
Tokyo Station, please. (with a taxi driver)
Yoyaku wo onegai dekimasu ka.
Can I make a reservation?
Kokusai denwa onegaishimasu.
Phone call abroad, please.
(on the phone)

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

Responsive Table: Scroll the table sideways with your finger >>
Kazuko-san onegaishimasu.
Can I speak with Kazuko?

As for verbs in the "te" form, when an action is being asked (such as: listen, speak, answer) the "Please" should be used, in these cases the onegai can not be used.

Responsive Table: Scroll the table sideways with your finger >>
Chotto matte kudasai.
Wait a moment please.
Nihongo wo Oshiete kudasai.
Please teach me Japanese.
Ashita kite kudasai.
Please come tomorrow.

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

Responsive Table: Scroll the table sideways with your finger >>
Onegai, watashi ni hanashite.
Please talk to me.
Onegai, shinanai de.
Please don't die.
Nee, onegai.
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 necessary;
  • When getting someone's attention; for example, a waiter/waitress;
  • Use onegai shimasu when requesting a service that you cannot fulfill;
  • Use onegai shimasu when asking someone over the phone;
  • In informal cases, you can just use "Onegai".
  • To say onegai shimasu 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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