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Levels of politeness in Japanese


I'd like to ask Japanese about proper way of using formal and informal language.
I always get confused when I need to speak politely and formerly. I'm used to using informal language and I don't get pleasure from using -ます、 -です。 But I realize I should be carefull not to offend native speakers, because I think Japanese are used to some level of politeness with strangers and they will feel uneasy when somebody's careless about it, even if it's a foreigner. You know, there's a similar thing in Russian: there are two forms of "you": a formal and an informal (used with friends or closer acquaintances). This is not so complicated as in Japanese, but still one has to use a polite form of "you" with a stranger. And sometimes when foreigners don't, I feel strange, even though I understand they're just used to informal forms or they want to practise informal language, still it takes me some time to get used to saying informal "you" to an unknown person. So... Do you get offended or do you feel wrong when foreigners make mistakes using wrong forms, not that polite they're supposed to use? What are the most often mistakes in levels of politeness that you see when strangers speak Japanese to you? You can write your answer in Japanese, I know basic Japanese and I can understand quite much, I'm just lazy to write such a long article in Japanese. :)
I have a couple of questions more about this:
1) How much time should pass untill I can call a person by name, not using -san? I feel a little uneasy using -san form of the name, that seems too official to me, but they keep using it, so it must be necessary.
2) Why is one person using both -desu and -da talking to me, the same person? It must be that way, there are some cases when you can use only -desu or only -da (sounds impossible)? Or they just can't decide whether they can or can't speak informal to me?  
3) And I'm so sad that since I'm a girl, I can't use 「よ!」 at the end of the sentence,  「ほい!」とか、 「行くぞ」とか、 「嘘!」とか。。。 この言葉を大好きです、でも失礼ですね。。。 悲しいです。。。 T_T This and also ways to address elders and youngers is the only thing I can't accept in Japanese, it makes me sad. :(
I'd like to know native speakers' opinion on this issue, please only native speakers, only Japanese please!



Nice question


One more thing: what're the Japanese names for -desu and -da stiles of speech? Sometimes I want to say "Sorry, I'm not good at -masu (polite) speech", but I can't find a word for it.




Japanese is a bit more complex with their levels of politeness than English or Russian for that matter.

This is a great guide to reference:

(Here's the Russian version of that same article:


I hope this helps explain it to you better.


Hey, Søren! Thank you, but I'm asking for native speakers' opinion. I have already read many things about this matter, but I'm still unsure what they feel about it.




 1) どれくらいで「さん」をつけなくてもよくなるか?Irinaさんの同僚と言える人で、相手が女性であれば、名前だけで呼んでも普通だから、少し親しくなれば、名前(first name)だけでいいと思いますが、相手が男性の場合、名前だけで呼ぶのは恋人だけが基本です。男性で女性の名前を呼び捨てにする人もいますが、かなりの例外だろうと思います。普通はさんを付けます。そして、それはいつまでも同じです。だから、基本的に、さん を付ける人は、いつまでも さん を付ける人です。

 2) です と だ が混ざる言い方というのは、仲間同士なら普通です。仕事上の会話では、あまり混ざらないように思います。仕事では、基本的に、ですます調に統一されるべきでしょう。しかし、カジュアルな会話では、だ が混ざっても普通です。Or they just can't decide whether they can or can't speak informal to me?  これもありえます。多分、インフォーマルに話したい気持ちが強いのではないかと思います。具体的な会話がわからないので、なんとも言えませんが、そうである場合もあると思います。

3) 女性だから「よ」とか「ほい」とか「行くぞ」とか「嘘!」とか使ってはいけない、と習ったのですか?フォーマルな場でなければ、それらは女性でも使えると思います。というか、使うと面白いと思います。たぶん、失礼にならないと思いますよ。使うと逆に打ち解けるかもしれません。





しんーさん、 すばらしいな答えです! どもありがとうございます! 後で読んで見たいです。

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