Poor translation of the politeness of ください.

The Japanese をください is being translated poorly, so that the politeness of the language is lost. For example, the course translates お茶をください as "Can I get tea?", rather than simply "tea, please".

"Can I get" is a far too colloquial translation, and not a particularly polite one.

Please reconsider the English wording.

August 26, 2017


May I Ask you? When do you use "Can I get tea?"? And "tea, please"?

August 27, 2017

The only place I would ever use "Can I get ... ?" would be at a restaurant, where a better translation would be 「○にします。」

Seriously, can't emphasize how rude it is to omit the word "please."

August 28, 2017

I wonder which skill this sentence お茶をください is in... I have no idea which skill it is, but it would be kind of ironic now if it turns out to be the "Restaurant" skill. :P

August 28, 2017

I kind of think it is...

To me "Tea, please" sounds less than ideally polite itself. Dialect (and presumably culture more broadly) does play in here.

To me using "can" instead of "could" is probably a greater etiquette breach than omitting "please," which at that point can become redundant.

EDIT: to the person who downvoted me, presumably b/c you think your own version of polite is the only one out there, well, this is an international forum; we're not all the same; and dismissing an explanation of someone else's cultural experience - well, that's not very polite.

August 29, 2017

I agree with you on this. I'd only ever use it if it was directly questioned as a choice of options.

August 30, 2017

It comes up in many different skills. I got habituated to it and would always translate it with "can I get X". And then it was marked wrong when I wrote "can I get a white blouse" because all of a sudden they wanted the "please give me ..." version.

August 29, 2017

Yeah! That's how it was with me too!

However, "Give me a 〇, please." is what it told me I should have written when that happened to me. This different sentence order made it seem considerably less polite than the usual "Can I get a 〇?" sentences. xD

August 29, 2017

Can't emphasize how rude it is to omit the word "please."


'tea, please' and 'tea' are not rude. right?

August 28, 2017

The rudeness is omitting the word "please." "Can I get tea?" and "Tea." are rude. "Can I get tea, please?" and "Tea, please" are polite. Small children are constantly reminded by their parents to always say "please" when asking for something.

I don't think it would be taken very well if I was a guest in someone's house and demanded 「茶をくれ。」 Saying "Can I get tea?" or simply "Tea" would be about the same.

August 29, 2017

I didn't know 'please' is so important word.

September 4, 2017

Yeah, it is a rite of Anglophone parenting to inculcate its use; that's for sure. If you'll accept an English tip, I think it would be much more natural to say, "such an important word."

September 4, 2017

I didn't know 'please' is such an important word. Oh! Thank you! XD

September 4, 2017

アメリカの喫茶店で「tea, please/tea」がちょっと素っ気ないと思います。 給仕が「would you like tea or coffee」を言うなら、「tea, please」がいい答えです。

August 31, 2017

I see. なるほど。

September 4, 2017

If you were in a restaurant and the waiter directly asked you "Would you like coffee or tea?", or something similar, I would say "Tea, please". Otherwise I'd order with "May I have tea, please?", or "Could I have tea, please?". Using "get" in this context is a fairly modern usage and, while it is becoming very common in some areas, it's not at all polite English.

August 29, 2017

This is where culture plays in. I can't image a server ever asking "Would you like coffee or tea?" Maybe it would be used in the U.K. where tea is actually culturally important, but that's thousands of miles from here. And what has been arbitrarily codified as polite or not on a couple islands that far away (and possibly generations ago when it was "impolite" to speak in anything but R.P.) isn't of a great deal of interest to me in my day to day life in a different society with its own conceptions of politeness with distinct cultural origins.

August 29, 2017

Your argument is moving away from the original purpose of this thread into different specifics, though. Cultural location isn't the topic at hand.

August 30, 2017

I don't think the emphasis is on the fact that it's choosing between beverages, but rather that it's polite to use shorter phrases as RESPONSES to questions.

August 31, 2017

I've also thought this particular translation to be rather impolite in English. And, in addition to the word please, wouldn't "May I" be more appropriate than "Can I"?

May 9, 2018

And also "have" instead of "get".

May 9, 2018

I agree.

May 9, 2018

お茶をください is "give me tea". This is polite enough when talking to a waiter, younger family, and friends.

The polite request is


which can be further adjusted for formality, all the way up to


or down to


Even just

is possible.

Textbooks greatly oversimplify the politeness and formality dimensions of Japanese. There is a scene in Evangelion where the mission members come by to encourage the pilot who will be fighting the next day. Every one uses a different form of gambaru/gambatte.

頑張って ください。


頑張って ねえ。

頑張って よう。



Of course nobody says

頑張って くださいませ。

or any of the other high-falutin' forms.

November 12, 2018

We have to talk about the meanings and the usages of these phrases before to decide what they are poor translations.

Therefore I ask when.

August 28, 2017

"Can I get tea, please?" makes sense to me but "tea, please" strikes me as a little brusque.

August 31, 2017

they both mean the same thing, and both translations are correct.

August 28, 2017

That's not entirely correct, though. ください comes from くださる, which is an honorific conjugation of くれる. Its honorific nature carries the politeness that isn't expressed in the translation given in this course.

Using "can" also implies it is conditional, which the original request doesn't contain. Therefore, it's a direct request in English, which in both cultures requires politeness. "Can I get tea?" is rude and abrupt. The fact that it's used colloquially and accepted in some places doesn't make it polite.

If you wanted a similar level of translation you'd probably use something like お茶頂戴.

August 29, 2017

I'm really thinking what's happened here is they're translating a direct request via a question in order to render the politeness. As a denizen of the Midwest, this makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. We don't tend to make direct requests for such things: with or without "please." "Please" simply isn't enough to make something framed as a direct request polite. Therefore, the translation is as a euphemistic question to make it polite. The problem is it's the wrong question (maybe it's the right one in Pittsburgh, where a number of the course creators seem to actually live).

August 29, 2017

But they both mean the same thing.

Honorifics don't exist in English.

August 30, 2017

Not in the Japanese sense, no. But almost equivalent levels of politeness do, an the translation doesn't reach the equivalency.

Edit: The normal translation of 下さい into English, when used as a request final or suffix is "please".

August 30, 2017

Since I've become uncertain on the point: would をください be used both after an enumerated list ("Would you like coffee, tea, orange juice, or milk?") and as an "initial" request e.g. placing an order at a coffee shop?

August 30, 2017

Yes. If you think of the first part as what you are requesting, followed by をください to equate to the English "please", you're both correct and polite.

Whether you're responding to options or stating your initial want, the simple Object - Object Particle (を) - Action (In this case an honorific conjugation of "to give" that equates to "please" in English), makes it complete.

August 31, 2017

Though I have interested in this topic, my English is too poor to participate in discussion well.

October 20, 2017

Don't worry. You're doing great!

May 6, 2018

Here is a short article on the use of "Can I get" instead of "Can I have"

To me "can i get" just sounds quite uneducated as a request, but it is used more and more. "Could I have", "May I have", even "I'd like" are better ways to request, with an added please at the end being the best. I'm not alone:

August 29, 2018

The problem with all the "logical" arguments against "get" being deployed in favor of "have" is that it's trivial to construct the analogous ones for that verb, too:

Of course you can have cake. No physical impediments exist that would prevent your possessing cake, right? Now, what do you plan to do with it?

August 29, 2018

One definition of "have" is "possess", as you say. Another definition of "have" is "to eat or drink".

Still you are correct that logical arguments don't really work for language. If the usage continues to become more popular, "Can I get" may be the proper expression at some point.

August 29, 2018

There are evidently geographical differences. Where I am "can I get" is ubiquitous (and probably has been for decades). "May I have," meanwhile, borders on the implausible.

August 30, 2018
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