1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "まどをあけませんか。"


Translation:Why don't we open the window?

June 19, 2017



Seeing this after "please take a shower immediately", I'm starting to feel kind of hurt


Isn't this the same as "wont you open the window"? Its a polite request.


"~masen ka?" is an invitation form, so you could technically invite someone to open the window, but that's not really what "won't you open the window?" is conveying to an English speaker. It sounds more like a request rather than an invitation.


don't agree - it's actually very polite english


For me as an American, saying "won't you open the window?" sounds like an order, albeit made polite by phrasing it as a question rather than a statement. The Japanese is an invitation to do something, and an invitation is not an order. That was the point I was trying to make, sorry if I phrased it poorly.


We may very well have lived in different parts of the United States, but to me, "won't you open a window?" sounds like a polite request. It could, indeed, be an invitation: "Won't you have dinner with us Thursday?"


I guess what I am not clear on is why you would be inviting someone to open a window? Saying "won't you have dinner with us on Thursday?" is clearly you inviting someone somewhere to share a meal. What does the person get out of opening the window? Maybe they're hot, but why do they need an invitation to open the window? If you say "won't you open the window?", you want the window open. They are doing it for you, not for them. Even if the English is the same words, it's not the same meaning to me.


An invitation, in that case, provides permission. If it is my house or office, or if I am in some other position of authority, "won't you open a window?" is, indeed, a polite request or an invitation. I could certainly see saying that to a student, for instance, though I never open windows in classrooms, as I find the noise distracting.


I see what you're saying and that's a good point (I've improved my English haha). But the Japanese isn't giving permission. I can't express it well, but I recommend reading Maggie-sensei.

Now let’s add a question mark,?.


= Touyou ni ikanai?

It is not a negative sentence. It means,

“Do you want to go to Tokyo with me?”

“Why don’t we go Tokyo!”

Note: Stress the last verb with rising intonation when you read it.

Polite form : You add “か ( = ka) after ません ( = masen)



= Toukyou ni ikimasen ka?

= Would you like to go to Tokyo with me?


Apparently not, because that answer was rejected!!!


After listening to other people's opinions and thinking about the grammar a bit, I can see why this translation would work, but I don't think it's the best translation. If you were to ask "won't you open the window?" politely in Japanese, it would be best to say 窓を開けてくれませんか? (mado o akete kuremasen ka) or to ratchet up the politeness 窓を開けていただけませんか (mado o akete itadakemasen ka). Asking 窓を開けませんか (mado o akemasen ka) gives me more of a feeling that the asker will actually open the window, or if we're in a room with many windows that need to be opened, that we'll do it together.


あなたの言った、”窓を開けていただきませんか ”は、少し違いました。




ああ、どうして私はちゃんと「くます」と書いて、「いただます」と書いてしまいましたかな。参考になりました。ほんとうにありがとうございます 。




But for me it sounds also more like an order disguised as a request


I tried "Can't I open the window?" but that wasn't accepted. I think if the accepted translation is not literal anyway, then my conversational translation should work too.


This sentence is very vague and context is necessary to distinguish the actual meaning.


The context is that when using "~masen ka?", you're extending an invitation.

[Edit for clarification on using "~masen ka" as an invitation:

PuniPuni Japanese:

Today we learned how to extend an invitation in Japanese using the negative question form of the verb 〜ませんか (~masen ka).

From E-Japanese:

Meaning: Won’t you – , How about – , Wouldn’t you -, It’s an invitation.

From Shogunate Japanese:

masen (ません) is just the Polite Negative Form of a verb. So for example 食 たべる would become 食たべません in Polite Negative Form. Make sure you know how to change a verb into -ます Form.

ka (か) is the sentence ending particle that signals that the sentence is a question. It basically acts the same as the “?” in English.

When you put these together it creates a phrase that would roughly translate to something like “Do you not want to …”?

In Japanese this is the way that you actually invite someone to do something.

From CosCom:

Adding masen ka? or mashoo ka? to the stem of a verb makes an invitation or a suggestion. The masen ka? pattern and the mashoo ka? pattern can be used in many different contexts, such as inviting a friend to watch a movie or have a meal together.


So, what about situations where you actually do need to ask if someone isn't or won't do something? It seems a little hard to do that if "-masen ka" is always an invitation.


Uninvited 2nd opinion coming!

No, "~masen ka" is not just used to exclusively extend invitations, but it most often is. It seems to be based on our favorite c word. Consider the following

(きみは)リンゴを食べませんか (will you not eat the apple?)

Depending on the context we can interpet that to either ask why you won't eat the apple, or an invitation to eat the apple. In most contexts, I would default to the latter translation. Context is king though, especially considering the next one.

神を信じていませんか? (do you not believe in God?)

A bit dramatic, but I would not translate this as an invitation to believe in God. Instead, it would be asked as if the person's beliefs were already known and the asker wanted to confirm what he thought he knew/suspects. Despite all of this though, I would say the affirmative version of the sentence would be more common than the negative...

If you want to ask why someone won't do something, then you would throw on なぜ on the beginning and then it becomes "why won't X do~". You can also use the past negative form of a verb with a 2nd person pronoun for "you didn't do...?"

Notice how all of these examples use 2nd person pronouns as the subject? The pattern for extending invitations don't hold up once you start using 3rd person pronouns.

(彼は)リンゴを食べませんか?(will he not eat the apple?)

For all I know though, it could be a very undirect way of inviting someone to eat an apple though... it is Japanese after all!

As far as I can tell, "~masen ka" would not be used with 1st person pronouns.

Uninvited 2nd opinion out


Japanese grammar and English grammar are not the same, and applying the rules of English negative questions to Japanese negative questions does not work.

From Maggie-sensei:


= Touyou ni ikanai?

It is not a negative sentence. It means, “Do you want to go to Tokyo with me?” “Why don’t we go Tokyo!”

Let’s look at your examples.

(きみは)リンゴを食べませんか (will you not eat the apple?)

Depending on the context we can interpret that to either ask why you won't eat the apple, or an invitation to eat the apple.

Rather than context, what you need is の to tell whether something is an invitation or a question about why you are not doing something.

From Wasabi:

When you use volitional verbs such as “食たべる: to eat” and “行いく: to go,” in negative questions, you have to use the quotation marker の. This is because the form: “食たべない (Won’t [you] eat [it])?” can be interpreted as inviting

食べませんか? > Won't you eat it? (an offer, an invitation to eat)

食べないのですか? > You're not eating it?

神を信じていませんか? (do you not believe in God?)

I agree that this is not an invitation because it is the ~ていませんか form, not ~ませんか form.

If you want to ask why someone won't do something, then you would throw on なぜ on the beginning and then it becomes "why won't X do~". You can also use the past negative form of a verb with a 2nd person pronoun for "you didn't do...?"

From a Japanese site explaining how to use “why don’t you”:


From a Japanese native explaining the sentence “why won’t you let me do it”:


You need の to change the meaning from an invitation to a question of why.

(彼は)リンゴを食べませんか?(will he not eat the apple?)

I have often been in situations where I am with a Japanese friend, and we meet another Japanese person who speaks to me through my friend rather than talking directly to me. I have been offered food in this way, with the person asking my friend 彼女は食べませんか (kanojo wa tabemasen ka), so I disagree that it can’t be used in the third person.

I agree it would not be used as an invitation in the first person. I think the grammar would not be used in the first person, period, but I’m interested to know if it could be and if anyone has any examples.

A good example of when ませんか is not an invitation is with verbs of existence. If you ask 質問はありませんか (shitsumon wa arimasen ka), it's more like "do you have any questions? / don't you have any questions?"


Japanese and English are just very different languages and you can't always express things the same way. I think even as an invitation, though, "~masen ka?" could still work in some contexts.


Ashita issho ni ikimasen ka?

Won't you go with me tomorrow?

You're inviting someone, but can also be asking this to confirm whether or not they're going.

I know in a casual setting you can say ~ないの? (~nai no?) to ask "aren't you ~?"


Ashita konai no?

Aren't you coming tomorrow?

[Edit for clarification from Imabi:

When ka か follows -nai desu ないです, the resultant question translates to “is it not…” When one is rather certain of the answer being the affirmative, this pattern stays as in. However, when there is any degree of doubt, the particle no の usually intervenes. In conversation, the particle no の is often contracted to n ん in this pattern, resulting in -nai n desu ka ないんですか?


Yūshoku wo tabenai no desu ka?

Are you not going to have dinner?

End of edit]


Maybe my confusion would work better with an example from my daily life.

Me: "Turn everything off before putting chemicals in the pool." Wife: "I Just put chemicals in the pool." Me: "You don't turn off the pump?"

In this scenario, I'm asking if someone doesn't do something. It comes up a lot in my life, especially since a lot of my job involves following certain procedures.

Is there really no grammatical structure to ask that sort of question without it being an invitation? Is there no "don't/won't" distinction afforded by the grammar?


I think 消さないの (kesanai no?) would work for that situation (you don't turn it off?).

I recommend reading Maggie-sensei.


Personally it feels like far too much freedom in this interpretation. Especially when something like 'Open the window, wouldn't you?' would be more accurate.


Yoda if you are (or aparantly a native speaker of japanese who has not yet mastered word order in english but knows individual words pretty well)


I believe it would be "If Yoda you are" :)


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're from the US? I'm American as well, but I've lived in Australia for about 10 years, and I can say that this sentence structure is normal for British-English speakers; although I would say, "Open the window, won't you?" is more typical: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv117.shtml


Yes. And in some other translations doulingo is far too picky about words that has the same meaning, as in why cant we use 'seat' instead of 'chair', cant use 'quickly' for 'early', etc..


The です on every ending quite annoys me too


Desu is what's called a copula-verb, since japanese grammar demands a verb in every sentence. It's kind of like the the "it's" in "it's raining". An english sentence demands a subject even when there is none the same way a japanese demands a verb. All japanese say it, either as as だ, です, である, であります or a fullblown, super formal ではあります.


You definitely don't need だ and you don't need a verb. There are zero copula sentences in Japanese. A noun or adjective by itself can be a sentence in casual speech and if you put だ at the end of every sentence you will sound like you're being more forceful or rough.


Forgot ございます and でござる! Samurai-ben!


Really? I love that, and the object markers like ha and ni. Unless you actually know some Japanese and no one ends sentences with dis.


I think what he means is not it will be omitted for native speaker, but the fact it always use polite form?




" Shall I open the window?" is a perfectly fine translation .



Mado o akemashou ka?

Shall I/we open the window?


But Duo wouldn't accept it.




Is there any reason why "why don't we open A window" is incorrect?


I put "why not open a window?" and it was counted as wrong. Our answers are correct, so just flag it and hopefully it'll be fixed. "(Verb)-masenka" is literally just translated as "Why not (verb)?"


Where is the why here? If this is why, how would one say "Don't you open the window?"


The "why" is not literally asking why you are opening the window; it would be the equivalent of "How about we open the window?"


So, how would I ask whether you were opening the window?


窓を開けていますか? まどをあけていますか mado wo akete imasu ka 'are you opening the window'


Ah, of course, with that progressive construction. Thank you.


Why don't we open the window?

Really? This is Duo's default translation of this sentence? How many people does it take to open one window? :P


Is the "we" to which it wants you to translate it essentially "one"?


Not quite; the subject is implied in the Japanese sentence, so it could be "I" or "we" or "you". It's basically a polite way to request that something be done (rather than command it).


So, 窓を開けてください is not how to politely request? I thought using the negative form like this was generally invitational. Like saying Should I open the window? or Would you like to open the windows?


Both forms are requests, of various levels of formality. 窓を開けてください is a more direct (and thus less "polite"/formal) request than まどをあけませんか.

This article has a chart with the various request forms in decreasing order of politeness, as well as some explanations: http://maggiesensei.com/2016/05/19/how-to-ask-for-a-favor-make-a-request/

A direct link to the chart, for convenience: http://maggiesensei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/tekurerumorauchart.jpg


-ましょう might be better in situations like this.


How would you say "Isn't the window open?" then?



Mado wa aite imasen ka?


The line you don't want to hear when you're in a vampire movie.


I wrote: why not opening the window? Wanted to test if i get accepted or not. But didn't accept it


"Why not opening the window?" isn't grammatically correct English anyway. It doesn't mean anything. Not sure what your reason was for wanting to test that particular answer.

"Why not open the window?" might be one of the accepted answers though.


Probably inko93 means "why not open…" but I tested this, got marked wrong.


It recommended to me "Why do not I open the window?" ...what kind of English is that...


I disagree with the translation..

I think it should be: "Won't you open the window?"

No where does this imply we.. and since when was opening a window a team effort?


~ませんか is an invitation to do something, usually together.

Suggested translations from a Japanese site explaining how to say ~ませんか in English:

1. Would you like to

Would you like to have dinner with me?


2. Do you want to

Do you want to play soccer on Sunday?


3. Why don’t we

Why don’t we eat lunch?


In Japanese, the speaker is inviting the listener to do something when they ask ~ませんか. My classroom gets very hot in the summer. I ask the students how they are, and when the majority of them yell "hot!" I turn to my co-teacher and ask 窓を開けませんか (mado o akemasen ka). We both go and open some windows. When I ask him this, if I just stood there staring at him, waiting for only him to open the windows, he would be confused. If I wanted him to open the windows, I would say 窓を開けてくれませんか (mado wo akete kuremasen ka) or something similar to make a request that he do it without me.


If the translation is "Why we don't open the door?" , why the phrase in Japanese is not 私たち(わたしたち)は窓(まど)を開(あ)けませんか。? It's to literal translate on this way?


The subject is often implied rather than explicit in Japanese. It's usually understood based on context, but since there's no subject specified here, a variety of translations should be accepted.


I don't understand where is the "we" on this frase


The subject is implied in the Japanese sentence, so it could be "I" or "we" or "you". It's basically a polite way to request that something be done (rather than command it). See the discussion elsewhere in this thread.


Duo prefers "Why don't we open the window?", but I would have thought a Japanese person would say "mado wo akemashou" for that - no?


That would be "let's open the window", or if you add か at the end, "shall we open the window?"


Would "Shall I open the window?" also work? It does in English, but not sure about Japanese.


"Shall" has its own pattern in Japanese. To say "shall I open the window", you would say 窓を開けましょうか. Has generally the same effect as the intended meaning in ths question.


The translation isn't as literal as ましょう always indicating "shall," and the ませんか question phrasing can absolutely translate with "shall."

For example: いっしょにたべませんか。 Let's eat together, shall we?

This question could be answered with ましょう form: ええ、行きましょう! Yes, let's go!

Note that this translation is correct but does not include the word "shall."

The ましょう form is harder to refuse, more of an assumption of acceptance from the start.


Hmm... I see your point, but it's because of that last point that I would have to disagree. According to my WordWeb app (which is based off of the Chambers Dictionary), it defines shall as "expressing a demand or an assertion" with an example sentence of "you shall do your homework". That sort of assumption is definitely there with ましょう. "~ませんか" is too soft to be using "shall" and "let's".

If we take a look at the example sentence you provided (一緒に食べませんか?), we would see the phrase "Let us" (from let's) appear. That seems to be also expressing an assertion as well. Because of that, I would be more apt to translate the sentence as "Won't you eat together with me?" instead of "Let's eat...", especially since we would have to end that same sentence with "shall we?" and express an assertion.

They are very similar, and most grammar books that I have suggest them as very similar expressions. They always do assert that there is a difference between the two however. The following is from "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui under the related expression notes for ~ましょう:

「An invitation by the speaker can also be expressed through the negative question, as in [1].

[1] パーチィーに 行きませんか。 Pātī ni ikimasen ka (Wouldn't you (like to) go to the party?)

In invitation situations, negative questions are more polite than mashou - sentences because the former [~ませんか] are asking whether or not the hearer will do something and, therefore, are hearer-oriented, while the latter [~ましょうか] do not consider the hearer's volition and are more speaker-oriented.」

With all this being said and done, words like "shall" and "let's" generally fall under the ~ましょう umbrella because of the assertion that it expresses. That is why I don't think the original sentence in this question can be answered by "Shall I open the window?"


Why the translation has "would" in it, as this is not a sentence in a potencial construction... And not to mention why... It should be "Won't you (I, we, whatever) open the window?"


I do not open the window. Wrong?


The "ka" at the end tells you that it's a question.


I answered "Shall we open the window". Is it okay?


Is "Shouldn't we open the window" also correct? It was marked wrong.


I don't think this should be "why don't we open a window" but "should we open a window" or something... One could answer a "why" question with a viable answer (because it's stuck/because bugs will get it/because Jimmy said so) and I don't think the Japanese sentence invites this kind of response.


Because there are mosquitoes outside.


Why don't we open the window? Could you open the window (for me)?


I think the answer should be "Could you open the windows?". If someone asked me "why", I would said because it's hot or bad smell outside, etc.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.