Languages › Japanese The Difference Between "Kudasai" and "Onegaishimasu" in Japanese Learn which word to use when making a request Share Flipboard Email Print Pete Ark / Getty Images Japanese Essential Japanese Vocabulary History & Culture Japanese Grammar By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated February 24, 2020 Both kudasai (ください）and onegaishimasu（お願いします) are Japanese words used when making a request for items. In many cases, these two Japanese words, which translate roughly as "please" or "please give me," are interchangeable. However, there are nuances associated with each word giving each a slightly different meaning. There are some situations when it is more appropriate to use kudasai instead of onegaishimasu and vice versa. Generally, deciding between kudasai and onegaishimasu depends on the social context. How to Use Kudasai in a Sentence Kudasai is a more familiar request word in Japanese. It is used when you are requesting something you know you are entitled to. For example, if you are requesting something from a friend, peer, or someone who is of lower status or social rank than you, you would use kudasai. Grammatically, kudasai (ください）follows the object and the particle o (を). When o is placed after a noun, it indicates that the noun is the direct object. In the tables in this and subsequent sections, the Japanese phrase is listed first as it is spelled phonetically using English letters, followed by the word or phrase written in Japanese letters (called kanji, hiragana, and katakana), while the English translation is listed on the right. Kitte o kudasai.切手をください。 Please give me stamps. Mizu o kudasai.水をください。 Water, please. How to Use Onegaishimasu in a Sentence While kudasai is a more familiar term, onegaishimasu is more polite or honorific. Thus, this Japanese word is used when you are requesting a favor. You would also use it if you are directing the request to a superior or to someone you do not know well. Like kudasai, onegaishimasu follows the object of the sentence. The sentences below echo the examples in the previous section, except that you would replace kudasai with onegaishimasudue according to the context and social circumstances, where you need to make a request in a more formal manner. When using onegaishimasu, you can omit the particle o. Kitte (o) onegaishimasu.切手 (を) お願いします。 Please give me stamps. Mizu (o) onegaishimasu.水 (を) お願いします。 Water, please. Onegaishimasu-Specific Cases There are some situations when only onegaishimasu is used. When making a request for service, you should use onegaishimasu, as in the examples in these two tables. Tokyo eki made onegaishimasu.東京駅までお願いします。 Tokyo Station, please. (to a taxi driver) Kokusai denwa onegaishimasu.国際電話お願いします。 Overseas telephone call, please.(on the phone) Onegaishimasu should also be used when asking for someone on the phone. Kazuko-san onegaishimasu.和子さんお願いします。 May I speak to Kazuko? Kudasai-Specific Cases When you make a request that involves an action, such as "to listen," "arrive," or "wait," use kudasai. Additionally, the Japanese verb form -te is added to kudasai in these cases. The -te form does not indicate tense by itself; however, it combines with other verb forms to create tenses. Chotto matte kudasai. ちょっと待ってください。 Wait a moment, please. Ashita kite kudasai.明日来てください。 Please come tomorrow. Learn Basic Japanese Needed for Ordering at a Restaurant Japanese Green Tea Talking on the Phone 19 Useful Japanese Phrases You Should Know How Do You Use the Japanese Verb "Te" Expressions Used in Japanese Letters Using the Japanese Particles Wa and Ga Correctly Japanese for Travelers: Getting Around Useful Japanese Expressions All About the Japanese Particles Wa and Ga Japanese Vocabulary: Shopping and Prices Singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in Japanese Frequently Asked Questions in Introductory Japanese How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru" Learn the Japanese Phrase 'Ki o Tsukete'