〈27〉3-11 imperative and “kudasai” (please)

                   〈27〉  ◆ chap 3  " The Japanese expressions & their secrets ! "    

                         part 11. imperative and “kudasai”(please)

We have already talked about the past tense, negative tense and other verb changes. However, there are still a few things missing. In this article, we will explain the imperative form in more detail.

命令形 meirei kei (imperative form)

            There are two types of imperative forms in Japanese, informal and formal.

In the case of the verb “iku”(to go), the informal is “ike!”(go!) and the formal 

is “ikinasai!”(go!).  When the verb “nomu”(to drink) is used, the informal is “nome!”(drink!) and the formal says, “nominasai!”(drink!).  When the verb kau

(to buy) is used,, the informal says, “kae!”(buy!), and the formal says, 

kainasai!”(buy!). In the case of “kaeru”(to go home, to return), the informal says, “kaere!" (go home!, return!) and the formal “kaerinasai! “(go home!, return!).

In other words, the final "u" in the infinitive form of a verb is replaced by an "e" in the informal form, and by an “i-nasai" in the formal form. The process is very simple.

                                  What about the 《"ru" abandoned verb》?

In the case of “taberu”(to eat), the informal is “tabero!” (eat!) and the formal is “tabenasai!”(eat!). For “okiru" (to get up), the informal is “okiro!" (get up!) and the formal is “okinasai!”(get up!). For “neru”(to go to bed), the informal is “nero!”(go to bed!) and the formal is “nenasai!"(go to bed!).  

In other words, the final "ru" in the irregular form is changed to "ro" in the informal form, without dropping the "ru". In the formal form, drop the "ru" and add "nasai" to it.

                    But what about those two odd verbs in the "ru" abandoned form?

First of all, the verb “suru" (to do) is used in the informal sense, “shiro!" (do!) and the formal is “shinasai" (do!), as we said before “su” is changed to "shi”.

However, the verb “kuru”(to come) is used in the informal form “koi!”(come here!) and it is important to note that the negative form “ko” is used. But the formal form is "kinasai!”, and the change is just as I said before. It's not so difficult.

                                             Now here's the main issue !

However, this form of command is rarely used nowadays, either informally or formally, because, as I mentioned before, they are both hundred years old and feudal in origin. It is a little too harsh to be used directly with the speaker. It would be like an army order. Nowadays, it is only used by some parents to scold their children.

I told you first, “tabero!” (eat!) and “tabenasai!”(eat!) are informal and formal. In fact, “tabero!” has a more powerful ring to it than “tabenasai!”.  However In modern times, both can be regarded as equivalent to the informal category, so to speak.

                    So what do you do now when you ask someone for something?

For example, when you want someone to listen to you, would you like to say kiite kudasai! " insted of  “kike!" or “kikinasai!“?  Yes, nowadays, the phrase …kudasai!” may be a form of command in Western languages.

In the subtitles of movies, "Sit down, please!”  is often translated as “suwatte kudasai!So many people think that the word "please!” is “...kudasai!”, but as I said before, the closest Japanese equivalent of "please!” is similar to “doozo” or “dooka”.

                                     Then, what it is all about ... kudasai! ?

Those of you with good instincts may already have noticed. That's right!, it seems to be a variant of “kureru” among the three verbs explained before, “ageru”, “morau” and “kureru”.  Haha, "...seems to be..." is a bit vague, but it's practically unclear.

           Let's take a look at the imperative form of the "ru" abandoned verb, “kureru” .

If you follow the rules above, the informal will say “kurero!” and the formal is “kurenasai!” for formal. In practice, however, neither “kurero!” and “kurenasai!”  are not used. Perhaps For some reason, “kurero!” has turned into “kure!” and “kurenasai!” has turned into “kudasai!”  for some reason.

I'm sorry to be so uncertain, but now let’s think “kudasai!” as one of the imperative forms of “kureru”(to give). 

In other words, “kiite kudasai!” is a strange English way of saying "Please give me to listen to me!” and “suwatte kudasai!” means "Please give me to sit down!” in English. To put it more clearly, the two verbs “kiku”(to listen) and “kureru”(give me), and “suwaru”(to sit down) and “kureru”(give me)  are joined by the glue "te" or "de".

 (There is also “kiite kure!”(listen to me!), but it is still too imperative to be used in general)

However, the imperative form of the verb in Japanese is too pre-modern and harsh. So, in order to soften it, they used one of the imperative forms of the verb "kureru"(give me) and joined it with other verbs. It's a strange story. Perhaps There may have been some reason why only "give", the same imperative as the others, was given special treatment. The Japanese language is full of mysteries!

It has only been about 150 years since the end of the Samurai Era, and less than 80 years since the Second World War. The modernisation process is still in its infancy.

                              However, the opposite problem has since arisen !

That's because this “…kudasai ! ” is too polite. It's fine for public occasions, but for close friends and family, it's a bit too formal. However, the original imperative form is, as I have already said, too harsh.

The most common way to do this nowadays is to omit the “kudasai!”. In other words “kiite kudasai!” to “kiite!”, “suwatte kudasai!” to “suwatte!”, “okite kudasai!” to “okite!” and “tabete kudasai!” to “tabete!”, “nete kudasai!” to “nete!”, and so on. These shortenings sound much softer and create a more intimate feeling. (The method of changing “…kudasai ! ” to the softer,  “…choudai ! ” is also used, like “kiite choudai ! ”, “suwatte choudai ! ”, “tabete choudai ! ”)

                                                      Interesting, isn't it? 

                        Japanese is a living language, and I'm sure it's still changing! 

                               I hope you will continue to enjoy learning Japanese!

          ーーー  The next post will be                         


                            <28> chap 3 "The Japanese expressions & their secrets!"

                                                   part 12.  “mae” (front / before) & “ushiro” “ato” (back / later)

                                              This is published  


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