Japanese Grammar

How to Make Invitations and Offers: (よ)う, (よ)うか, and ない

Shall I: ようか?

Last time, you learned how to express volition like “ほんはたらこうとおもっています (I’m going to work in Japan),” and “ほんはたらくつもりです (I intend to work in Japan).” Then, what if you would like to ask your friend to work in Japan with you? You can express it by utilizing what you have learned so far. In this lesson, you will tackle how to express invitations and offers.

Explanation for Making Invitations and Offers in Japanese

Table of Contents
(よ)う: Let’s…
…ない?: Won’t You…?
…(よ)うか?: Shall I…?

You will actually not learn new grammar in this lesson. By utilizing the volitional form and negative questions that you know already, you can express invitations and offers. In spite of the simplicity, they are very important expressions in everyday life. Let’s check how they work.

Making Invitations

(よ)う: Let’s…

[わたしたちは] 一緒いっしょ べんきょう(しよう / しましょう)
[Topic / Subject] Adverb Verb: Volitional Form
Let’s study together.

When you use the volitional form with other people, your speech sounds like an invitation and can be translated as “let’s” in English. This is a strong invitation and is suitable for when you would like him or her to accept your invitation regardless of his or her will.

今日きょうは(もう / みましょう)。
As for today, let’s drink.
クーラーをつけ(よう / ましょう)。
Let’s turn on the air-conditioner.
でんを(そう / しましょう)。
Let’s turn off the light.
だんぼうれ(よう / ましょう)。
Let’s turn on the heating.

…ない?: Won’t You…?

[あなたは] 一緒いっしょ べんきょう(しない / しませんか)?
[Topic / Subject] Adverb Verb: Negative Question
Won’t [you] study with me?

When you use negative questions with other people, your speech sounds like an invitation and can be translated as “won’t you” in English. This is less strong than the above and is suitable for when you are willing to accept his or her will.

今日きょう、(あそばない / あそびませんか)?
Won’t [you] hang out [with me] today?
そとを(あるかない / あるきませんか)?
Won’t [you] walk around outside [with me]?
わたしいえに(ない / ませんか)?
Won’t [you] come to my house?
先生せんせいに(ならない / なりませんか)?
Won’t [you] become a teacher?

Making Offers

…(よ)うか?: Shall I…?

[わたしは] [あなたを] つだおう / つだいましょう)か?
[Topic / Subject] [Direct Object] Volitional Form + か?
Shall [I] help [you]?

When you use the volitional form with the question marker か, your speech sounds like an offer and can be translated as “Shall I” in English

一緒いっしょに(さがそう / さがしましょう)か?
Shall [we] look for [it] together?
ルールをおしえ(よう / ましょう)か?
Shall [I] teach [you] the rule?
5時ごじいえを(よう / ましょう)か?
Shall [we] leave [here] at 5:00pm.
わたしが(はらおう / はらいましょう)か?
Shall [I] pay?

Difference between the Plain Form and the Volitional Form + か

ぼくが(つ / ちます)よ。
I will hold [it].
ぼくが(とう / ちましょう)か?
Shall I hold [it]?

You can express offers by using the plain form, which is often used with the particle よ to make listeners aware of your intention. Since the plain form is not a question, the difference is whether or not you are ready to hear his or her opinion.

Summary

  1. When using the volitional form to other people, it means “let’s.”
  2. When using negative question with the question marker か, it means “won’t you.”
  3. When using the volitional form with the question marker か, it means “shall I.”

We think they are simple enough to memorize. If you have difficulty in conjugating verbs, please check the previous lesson about negative questions and the volitional form. Next, you will learn a related topic: how to make commands and requests.

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