Do you think you do not need Keigo, honorific Japanese since you do not work in Japan? 

Keigo is the default setting in Japanese! Whenever you talk to someone other than your friends, partner, or family, you should use the polite style. 

Check out these five polite expressions you can use today.


  • Do you want to reschedule your italki class? - よろしいでしょうか
  • Do you see someone in person for the first time, after all these online meetings? - あらためまして、マイケルです
  • Thank you for your help - おてすう おかけします
  • You cannot find what you want on the menu? - カフェインレスコーヒーってありますかね…
  • You forget something you have already asked before? - もえるゴミでしたでしょうか

 1. よろしいでしょうか

Is it not a problem for you?

-To your sensei on italki, written style-

You: 火曜日の授業(じゅぎょう)なんですが、金曜日の同じ時間に振(ふ)り替(か)えて頂(いただ)いても宜(よろ)しいでしょうか。

Sensei: 承知(しょうち)しました。

You: Could you reschedule Tuesday’s class to the same time on Friday?

Sensei: No problem. 


宜(よろ)しいでしょうか is the honorific alternative for いいですか. 

Note that to answer よろしいでしょうか, you cannot say よろしいです.  

Common answers to this are 大丈夫です -That’s alright (polite), and 承知(しょうち)しました (very polite). 


〜を 宜(よろ)しいでしょうか

is often used to ask “Could you tell me ...” in conversations. The full sentence would be 〜を頂(いただ)いてもよろしいでしょうか - Is it okay to ask.../ Could you give me…?

-On the phone at work-

A: お名前を宜しいでしょうか

B: 佐藤健と申します。

A: May I ask your name?

B: SATO, Takeru.


Fun facts!

Japanese people don’t usually say 「質問(しつもん) があります」. You can say「すみません、ちょっとよろしいですか?」 (With friends, 「ちょっとごめん」) instead. 

To be very honest, every time my student asks me 質問があります, I get a bit nervous, expecting a very big question or worrying that I said something wrong…!!

2. 改 (あらた) めまして、マイケル・ホワイトです

Once again, my name is Michael White.

Have you ever felt strange saying はじめまして when you meet someone face-to-face for the first time after many online meetings? Then 改(あらた)めまして (name) です is the best phrase for you!

-You meet your colleague, whom you have talked with only via video chat, for the first time in person-

A: 改めまして、マイケル・ホワイトです。いつもお世話(せわ) になっております。

B: あ、マイケルさん!鈴木太郎です。こちらこそお世話になっています。

A: (Let me say this once again as a special/formal occasion) Michael White. Thank you for all your help.

B: Michael! SUZUKI, Taro. Nice to meet you, too.


改めまして means “once again” or “afresh”. This is used when you can finally say/announce something officially, which other people might already know but you would like to say it once again.

3. お手数(てすう)おかけします

Sorry for the trouble. / Thank you for your help.

The literal meaning of お手数 (てすう) おかけします is “I cause you trouble”. However, it is usually used to ask for help or to thank someone after they have helped you. It is used both in spoken and written styles.

-To your colleague, spoken style-

A: すみません、ちょっとこちらの日本語なんですが、間違(まちが)っていないかご確認(かくにん)頂いても宜(よろ)しいでしょうか。

B: はい、分かりました。

A: すみません、お手数おかけします。


B: マリアさん、日本語、少しだけ直させてもらいました。

A: すみません、どうもありがとうございます。お手数おかけしました。

A: Excuse me, would you check if the Japanese (I wrote) is correct?

B: Alright!

A: Sorry to trouble you.

(After a while)

B: Maria, I corrected it just a little bit.

A: Thank you very much for your help!


Many Japanese apology expressions do not exactly translate to English. Apologizing phrases are often used to thank others. They don’t necessarily have sad or regretful emotions.

4. カフェインレスコーヒーってありますかね…

I was wondering if there was any decaffeinated coffee.

→ Do you have decaffeinated coffee? (in a polite and friendly tone)

-At a café. You cannot find decaffeinated options on the menu-

You: すみません、カフェインレスコーヒーってありますかね…

Staff: もうしわけございません。カフェインレスのハーブティーでしたらご用意(ようい)あるんですが…

A: Excuse me, do you have decaf coffee?

B: We are sorry. We do have some decaffeinated herbal teas…


ますかね… or 〜ですかね… is an expression to use when you want to confirm something, without an accusing tone. Sometimes a simple question, ますか?/ ですか? You can sound like you are a bit upset. You can add ね at the end to avoid that.

By adding ね, it becomes “Do you have…?” + “I wonder…” which sounds more friendly or sympathetic to the listener than a simple か? question.  

Please Note That:

・It is mainly used between colleagues of the same/close rank or from a customer to a shop clerk in the spoken language. 

・Since it has a friendly tone, you cannot use this to your customers or bosses. If you use it to them, it sounds なれなれしい (too friendly and sounds impolite).

Unlike a question with ですか?/ ますか?, 「か」 is pronounced downward and ね sounds like ね⤵ (first high tone and then low tone)

Decaf Options in Japan

Many restaurants/cafes in Japan do not have decaf, which is a big problem for me.

You can ask for 麦茶 (むぎちゃ, roasted barley seed tea) or ほうじ茶 (roasted green tea) instead.


When Your Order Never Arrives at the Busy Izakaya (Japanese style pub)...!

-You haven’t received Yakitori (skewered chicken barbeque) you ordered-

You: すみません、焼き鳥ってあとどれぐらいかかりますかね…

Staff: もうしわけございません、ただいま準備(じゅんび)しておりますのでもう少々お待ち下さい。

You: Excuse me, we were wondering how long it will take for the yakitori...

Staff: We are sorry, we're working on it. Please wait for a few more minutes.

5. もえるゴミでしたでしょうか

Could you tell me again, is plastic burnable waste?

-To your landlord, spoken style-

You: すみません、プラスチックのゴミは燃(も)えるゴミでしたでしょうか

Landlord: やわらかいプラスチックは燃えるゴミで大丈夫です。

You: Excuse me, could you tell me again, is plastic considered burnable waste?

Landlord: Soft plastics can be thrown into the burnable waste.


でした (ました)でしょうか is a very polite version of でし(まし)たっけ, which is used to ask something you have already asked before or to confirm something which you are not confident about. 

It is commonly used both in spoken and written forms.

Even If You Have Not Forgotten Anything…

Sometimes it is used when your customer or superior forgot to tell you something and you want to ask about it, pretending it is you who forgot it! It is one of the politeness strategies.

-To your sensei. She gives you homework every week but you did not get any assignments in your last class-

You: 先生、すみません、今週 (こんしゅう) は宿題 (しゅくだい) はありましたでしょうか

Sensei: すみません、出し忘(わす) れていましたね。20ページをやっておいてください。

You: Excuse me, could you tell me again about whether I had homework this week?

Sensei: Sorry, I forgot to give you any. Please work on page 20.


You can also use でした (ました) でしょうか instead of でした (ました) か just to be more polite.

-At the end of the blog-



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