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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Absolute Beginner Questions Answered by Hiroko, where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is… What's the difference between ONEGAI SHIMASU and KUDASAI?
When you want a bottle of water, you can use both “mizu o onegai shimasu” and “mizu o kudasai”. But, are they exactly the same? Can you use them interchangeably all the time?
Both "kudasai“ and "onegai shimasu" are used when making a request for items. "Kudasai" follows the object and the particle "o", like “mizu o kudasai.”
"Onegai shimasu" can be replaced with "kudasai" when you want an object. It sounds a little more polite than using ‘kudasai’. So you can say, “mizu o onegai shimasu.”
However, there are some situations when only "onegai shimasu" is used.
First, when you are making a request for service. For example, when you ask a taxi driver to drive to Shinjuku station, you should say “Shinjuku eki made onegai shimasu”. In this case “Shinjuku eki made kudasai” doesn’t make any sense.
Second, when you are asking for someone on the phone. For example, you would like to talk to Tomoko on the phone. However, her father answers. In this case you have to say “Tomoko san o onegai shimasu”. If you say, “Tomoko-san o kudasai,” instead, it sounds like a proposal of marriage, like “do you allow me to marry Tomoko?”.
For making requests that involve an action, you need to use “kudasai” after the te-form of a verb. "Onegaishimasu" cannot be used in this case. For example, “matte kudasai” which means “please wait” is a correct sentence. However, “matte onegaishimasu” is never used.
I hope this makes sense to you and you’re able to use "onegaishimasu” and “kudasai” correctly from now on!.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!