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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is... Can I use the verb さしあげる, (sashiageru) the polite version of あげる (ageru) when offering to help someone?
Even though あげる (ageru) highlights you doing something for someone, it’s still too direct to use when offering help. For example, the sentence, 手伝って差し上げましょうか (Tetsudatte sashiagemashō ka), would be regarded equally as saying ほしいですか(hoshii desu ka) to a person of a higher status. In a culture of humility and indirectness, we need to be really careful about how we phrase our sentences, especially when offering help.
In addition, even when you’re using the very polite verb さしあげる (sashiageru) when you give help, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually being polite. This is because while あげる (ageru) is mainly used when you give something or do something for someone, it also implies that it’s worth being appreciated.
Therefore, if you want to offer help, it’s better to use the more polite expressions 手伝いましょうか(tetsudaimashō ka) or お手伝い致しましょうか(o-tetsudai itashimashō ka) instead.
Let’s go through some examples so you can learn how to offer help correctly in Japanese.
荷物を持ちましょうか。(Nimotsu o mochimashō ka.)
お荷物をお持ちしましょうか。(O-nimotsu o o-mochi shimashō ka.)
Both sentences mean, “Shall I help you with your luggage/baggage?” If you’re casually offering help to a friend or someone of the same status as you, 荷物を持ちましょうか(Nimotsu o mochimashō ka.) is alright to use. If you’re offering help to someone of a higher status or an elderly person, it’s better to use お荷物をお持ちしましょうか。(O-nimotsu o o-mochi shimashō ka.)
Again, you don’t use あげる (ageru) or さしあげる (sashiageru), but, just use ましょうか (mashōka) meaning “shall I.”
Let’s do another example--
水を買ってきましょうか。(Mizu o katte kimashō ka.)
This sentence literally translates as “Should I go and buy some water for you?” In this case, you need to use ましょうか (mashō ka) with a verb phrase meaning “to go and buy something” 買ってくる (katte kuru), and say 買ってきましょうか. (katte kimashō ka).
Here, we offer help without using あげる (ageru) to avoid highlighting your own action of helping.
Just remember, あげる (ageru) and さしあげる(sashiageru) are both used to highlight the giver’s favor in the situation. If that giver is you, it’s better to avoid it. Offer help with a nice and humble しましょうか.(shimashō ka).
How was this lesson? Did you get everything?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね![mata ne!] See you!