16 Ways to Say “Please” in Japanese from Onegai and Onward

Being polite is an integral part of Japanese culture.

So knowing how to say “please” in Japanese is a must for social interactions!

You may know some of the basics, like onegai and kudesai. But do you know how and when to actually use them? 

And what if you need to say “please” in some more specific social situations? 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the polite word, “please”!


お願い (Onegai) — Please

This is the most basic way to say “please” in Japanese, and the one you’re most likely to already know. It’s a neutral, all-purpose way to say “please.”

The term originates from the Japanese verb “negau” (願う), which means “to wish” or “to request.” So literally, the word means “I request.”

Not sure which form of please to use? This is the general term to default to. You’ll be understood in any situation!


もう少し静かにして、お願い (Mōsukoshi shizuka ni shite, onegai.) — Please be a bit quieter.

お会計お願い (O-kaikei onegai.) — Please bring the bill.

お願いします (Onegai shimasu) — Please [polite]

You better believe that in Japanese, the already polite word “please” has several even more polite forms!

Onegai shimasu is a more polite form of onegai, which means you generally use it when making a request to someone of higher status or authority, or just in a more formal setting. 

It’s a combination of お願い (onegai), meaning “request” or “favor,” and the polite verb ending します (shimasu), which is the polite form of the verb “to do.” Together, it translates to “please do (something)” or “please (do) me a favor.”


会議の資料を送ってもらえると助かります。お願いします (Kaigi no shiryou o okutte moraeru to tasukari masu. Onegai shimasu.) — It would be helpful if you could send me the meeting materials. Please.

お願いします、あなたのアドバイスが必要です。 (Onegai shimasu, anata no adobaisu ga hitsuyou desu.) — Please, I need your advice.

お願い申し上げます (Onegai moushi agemasu) — I humbly request [very polite]

This is the most polite form of onegai, the final evolution in formality, if you will. The expression adds the polite “moushiagemasu,” which is a humble form of the verb “to say” or “to express.” 

It’s used in the most formal situations, such as when making a request to a dignitary. You’re not that likely to use it yourself (unless you’ve got some connections in the higher echelons of Japanese society) but you might hear it in news reports or other official media. 


お手伝いいただければ幸いです。お願い申し上げます (O-tetsudai itadakereba saiwai desu. Onegai moushi agemasu.) — I would be grateful if you could help. I sincerely request your assistance.

こちらをお貸しいただけますと助かります。お願い申し上げます (Kochira wo okashi itadakemasuto tasukari masu. Onegai moushi agemasu.) — I would appreciate it if you could lend me this. Thank you very much.

ください (Kudasai) — Please [for a request]

Kudasai is derived from the verb くださる (kudasaru), which is a polite way of saying “to give” or “to do for me.” 

The word is a more casual and direct way of making a request. It’s used in most everyday situations and doesn’t carry the same respect and humility as onegai. 

If you just want to ask your sister to pass the salt, use kudasai. If you want to ask your coworker to help you carry all your notes to the meeting, use onegai. 

It’s pretty easy to use, as you can literally just add kudasai to whatever it is you want. If you’re requesting a noun, use this sentence structure:

 [Object] をください ([Object] o kudasai)

For a verb, you’ll need to use the verb’s te-form, like this: 

[Verb in te-form] ください ([Verb in te-form] kudasai)


飲み物をください (Nomimono o kudasai.) — Please give me a drink.

座ってください (Suwatte kudasai.) — Please sit down.

メニューをください (Menyū o kudasai.) — Please give me the menu.

ちょうだい (Choudai) — Please give

Choudai is similar to kudasai in usage and meaning, but it’s a more casual term. It has a childish ring to it—picture a little kid asking their parent to buy them something at the store. 


水をちょうだい (Mizu o choudai.) — Water, please.

本をちょうだい (Hon o choudai.) — The book, please.

もう一度説明してちょうだい (Mō ichido setsumei shite choudai.) — Please explain it again.

プリーズ (Purīzu) — Please [casual]

Sound familiar? This is a borrowed word from English, used in very casual settings. It’s especially used among younger people, usually in spoken communication. 


もう一度教えてくれる?プリーズ (Mou ichido oshiete kureru? Purīzu.) — Can you tell me one more time? Please.

ちょっと手伝ってくれる?プリーズ (Chotto tetsudatte kureru? Purīzu.) — Can you help me for a moment? Please.

願わくば (Negawakuba) — If I may humbly request

Here’s one for the history books, literally. This term is an archaic expression that literally means “if it may be wished for.” The phrase is used to express a polite request or a wish, often found in formal or written language. It’s not commonly used in everyday spoken Japanese, but you might encounter it in literature or older texts.


願わくば、お手すきの際にお知らせいただければと存じます。 (Negawakuba, otesuki no sai ni oshirase itadakereba tozonjimasu.) — If I may humbly request, I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you have a moment.

願わくば、ご意見をお聞かせいただければと考えております。 (Negawakuba, otesuki no sai ni oshirase itadakereba tozonjimasu.) — If I may be so bold as to ask, I would like to hear your opinion.

…いただけないでしょうか (…Itadakenaideshou ka) — Could you please

This one might sound familiar, too—it’s rooted in the verb だく (itadaku), which means “to receive” and is also the root for the phrase you say before you eat, itadakimasu. 

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of this expression: 

  • いただけない (Itadakenai): This is the potential form of the verb いただく (itadaku), which means “to receive” or “to be given.” The potential form here implies the ability or possibility to receive or do something.
  • でしょうか (deshou ka): This is a polite expression that is often added to a sentence to make a request. It softens the request and adds a sense of politeness.

So, the whole phrase いただけないでしょうか (…Itadakenaideshou ka) translates to something like “Could I receive?” or “Would it be possible for me to receive?” This expression is commonly used in formal or polite situations where you want to make a request in a respectful manner.


この資料をお送りいただけないでしょうか (Kono shiryou wo o-okuri itadakenaideshou ka?) — Could you please send me this document?

この問題について助言をいただけないでしょうか (Kono mondai ni tsuite jogen o itadakenaideshou ka?) — Could you please give me some advice on this issue?

Additional Phrases to Use with “Please” in Japanese

The following words don’t mean “please” on their own. Instead, they’re often used in conjunction with one of the words you just learned above.

They can make the difference between a simple request like “Menu, please” and “If it’s convenient for you, by all means, please procure the menu for me.” 

Of course, you don’t have to go full Jeeves on the waiter like I did in the above example, but the phrases below add an extra layer of politeness and consideration for the person you’re asking something of. 

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是非 (Zehi) — By all means, absolutely

This phrase is used to express strong desire or intention, close to the English expression “would you kindly?”

It can be used to emphasize a request or to make it clear that you’re asking for something specifically. It’s often used to convey a strong recommendation or a sincere desire for something to be done. 


是非、お知らせください。 (Zehi, oshirase kudasai.) — By all means, please let me know.

是非、ご意見をお聞かせください。 (Zehi, go-iken o okikase kudasai.) — Absolutely, please share your opinion with us.

もしよろしければ (Moshi yoroshikereba) — If it’s okay with you

This phrase politely asks for something if it’s convenient for the other person. It’s a good expression to use when you’re asking for permission, making a suggestion or making a polite request from someone. 


もしよろしければ、明日の会議にご参加いただけますでしょうか? (Moshi yoroshikereba, ashita no kaigi ni go-sanka itadakemasu deshou ka?) — If it’s okay with you, could you please join the meeting tomorrow?

その資料をもしよろしければ、ご確認いただけますでしょうか? (Sono shiryou o moshi yoroshikereba, go-kakunin itadakemasu deshou ka?) — If it’s okay with you, could you please review that document?

ご検討いただければ幸いです (Gokentou itadakereba saiwai desu) — I would be grateful if you could consider

This extra formal phrase is often used in formal or business communication to politely request someone’s thoughtful consideration or review of a matter. 


ご検討いただければ幸いです。新しいプロジェクトにご参加いただけますと幸いです。 (Gokentou itadakereba saiwai desu. Atarashii purojekuto ni go-sanka itadakemasu to saiwai desu.) — I would be grateful if you could consider it. I would appreciate it if you could participate in the new project.

この提案をご検討いただければ幸いです (Kono teian wo gokentou itadakereba saiwai desu. ) — I would be grateful if you could consider this proposal. 

どうか (Douka) — Somehow

This emphasizes your wish or request, often used with other formal phrases like “onegaishimasu.” It’s used to make a polite request or to express a hope or wish, giving your request a more earnest tone. 


どうかお願いします。 (Douka onegaishimasu.) — Please, I humbly request.

お手数をおかけしますが、どうかお願いいたします。  (Otesuu wo okake shimasu ga, douka onegai itashimasu.) — I apologize for the inconvenience, but please, I request [your understanding/help].”

申し訳ございませんが… (Moushiwake gozaimasenga…) — I’m sorry, but…

This phrase is often used to convey a sense of apology or to soften the impact of delivering unwelcome news. You can use it in conjunction with the words that mean “please” to apologize for any inconvenience before making a request. 


お手数をおかけして申し訳ございませんが、もう一度ご確認いただけますでしょうか? (Otesuu wo okakeshite moushiwake gozaimasen ga, mou ichido go-kakunin itadakemasu deshou ka?) — I’m sorry, but could you please check it again for me?

申し訳ございませんが、もう一度お時間をいただければと存じます。 (Moushiwake gozaimasen ga, mou ichido o-jikan wo itadakereba to zonjimasu.) — I’m sorry, but if I could have a little more of your time, I would appreciate it.

大変お手数ですが… (Taihen otesuu desu ga…) — I apologize for the trouble, but…

This phrase acknowledges that the request might be troublesome before asking. It’s another way to express an apology before making a request.


大変お手数ですが、今一度メールをご確認いただけますでしょうか? (Taihen otesuu desu ga, ima ichido me-ru wo go-kakunin itadakemasu deshou ka?) — I’m sorry to bother you, but could you please check your email once again?

大変お手数ですが、お名前と連絡先を教えていただけますでしょうか? (Taihen otesuu desu ga, o-namae to renrakusaki wo oshiete itadakemasu deshou ka?) — I apologize for the trouble, but could you please provide your name and contact information?

お時間のある時に (O-jikan no aru toki ni) — At your convenience

Use this one exactly as you’d use the English translation, to ask for something from someone else when they have the time to complete your request. It’s a polite way to ask for someone’s time or attention without directly imposing on their schedule. 

Although it can be used in any formality level, it’s more on the formal side and is more often used in professional settings. 


お時間のある時に、お電話いただけますでしょうか? (O-jikan no aru toki ni, o-denwa itadakemasu deshou ka?) — When you have a moment, would you please give me a call?

お時間のある時に、ご意見をお聞かせいただけますと幸いです。 (O-jikan no aru toki ni, go-iken wo o-kikase itadakemasuto saiwai desu.) — When you have time, I would be happy if you could share your opinions.

ご都合の良い時に (Go-tsugou no yoi toki ni) — When it suits you 

This phrase is very similar to the previous, with a stronger emphasis on the request recipient’s convenience. It’s another polite way to request someone’s time or attention. 


ご都合の良い時に、ご一緒にランチはいかがでしょうか? (Go-tsugou no yoi toki ni, go-issho ni ranchi ikaga deshou ka?) — Whenever you’re free, how about going to lunch together?

ご都合の良い時に、この提案についてご検討いただけますでしょうか? (Go-tsugou no yoi toki ni, kono teian ni tsuite go-kentou itadakemasu deshou ka?) — At your convenience, could you please consider this proposal?


Now go ahead and study these ways to say “please” in Japanese, at your earliest convenience. Please and thank you!

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