Have you ever been to Japan? Whether your answer is, what impressed you the most in Japan? Is it the delicious sushi with fresh sashimi? The fascinating sakura season? Or the hiragana, katakana, kanji on the street? Whatever it is, you must have already known that Japan is a country that emphasizes being polite. It is not only about behavior, but also exists in the language. This time, let’s take a look at a sentence that is being used thousands of times every single day, which is “yoroshiku onegaishimasu”.
What is よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu)
It is always hard to define “yoroshiku onegaishimasu”. If you search on the web dictionary, it might bring definitions such as “please help me” or “please treat me well”. You might be confused when you put the meanings with the text you are trying to understand.
The distinction of culture and language between the US and Japan could be the reason for being unable to translate exactly. Let’s separate the sentence into two parts and check the literal meaning.
It is oriented from 宜しい (yoroshii), which can be written in only hiragana よろしい as well. “Yoroshii” is an adjective which can be seen as a formal word of 良い (yoi or ii) basically. “Yoroshii” has various meanings, including “okay”, “all right”, or “good” . It is frequently used when inquiring permission to do something. Check the example below.
- このコップを使ってもいいですか？ (kono koppu wo tsukattemo ii desu ka?)
- このコップを使ってもよろしいですか？ (kono koppu wo tsukattemo yoroshii desu ka?)
While both of the sentences mean “Can I use this cup?” or “Is it okay to use this cup?”, but “yoroshii desu ka ” sounds more polite. You can use this form to people you are not close to.
There is a place in Japan where you would be asked questions with this phrase frequently, that is convience store. Let me give you a few examples.
- このままでよろしいですか? (kono mama de yoroshii desu ka ?)
This is literally translated to “Is it okay as it is?” but actually it is particularly referring to “Are you sure you don’t need a bag?”
- 一万円からでよろしいですか？(ichimanen kara de yoro shii desu ka?)
“Is it okay for you to pay with a ten thousand yen note?”
When you are paying with a ten thousand or five thousand yen bill, the cashiers usually confirm with you by the sentence above.
- レシートは宜しいですか？ (reshito wa yoroshii desu ka?)
“Do you need your receipt?”
After a long explanation of “yoroshii”, do you understand the usage of the word? Then , let’s carry on. “Yoroshiku” is the adverb form from “yoroshii”, in which the last “i” is replaced by “ku”. In this case, the adverb form of “yoi” and “ii” turns to be “yoku”. “Yoroshiku” and “yoku” stand for the concept of “well” or “kindly”.
This part of the sentence is not as tricky as “yoroshiku”, “onegaishimasu” is used when you are making a request for a favor or service.
Grammatically, “onegaishimasu” follows the object of the sentence.
- In the restaurant…
水お願いします。(mizu onegaishimasu) Water, please.
- On the taxi…
京都駅までお願いします。(kyoutoeki made onegaishimasu) Please take me to Kyoto station.
The part “お〜します” (o~shimasu) is an expression called “kenjougo” as known as humble form. This form is used when you are speaking to someone of a higher position about yourself. In this case, you humble yourself down.
Another part of this phrase is a noun called “願い” (negai) which is oriented from a verb “願う” (negau). “negau” stands for “to hope” or “ask”.
By combining the words together, when you want to ask others for a favor, you humble your “negai” down in order to present your politeness.
In other words, “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is a rather polite expression. If you are having a conversation with a close person, you can use the casual form “yoroshiku”.
When do you say yoroshiku onegaishimasu?
After the long explanation of grammar, I hope you have absorbed it well! I am sure there are still many people who always have a hard time with those mind-twisting grammar above. A line from the movie, Tenet, says “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” Since the exact equivalence does not exist in some expressions between Japanese and English, let’s take a look at some situations and check the meaning “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” can be used under different circumstances. I roughly divide it into three groups.
First: First time meeting someone…
Occasion: first time to meet someone, first day at work, interview, on an event, joining a social media group
The simplest self-introduction goes like below.
初めまして。(hajimemashite) Nice to meet you.
私はメアリーです。(watashi wa meari desu) My name is Mary.
Let’s say your friend introduces his/her friends to you and this person might be your friend as well, in other words, you will have a certain connection with the person. Then,“yoroshiku onegaishimasu” indicates the concept that you would like to build a good relationship with the person.
Second: When you ask others for a favor…
(Conversation between good friends)
Tom: ちょっとコンビニ行ってくるけど、何かいる？I am going to convenience store, do you need anything?
Joy: じゃあ、おにぎりを一つ。Well…one onigiri.
Tome: 了解。No problem.
Since Mike and Mary are good friends, as mentioned before, they talk in casual form without “onegaishimasu”. Here, “Yoroshiku” indicates that you leave a favor, a task, or a requirement to others and show your appreciation.
(Conversation between co-workers in a office)
Joy: この仕事お願いしてもよろしいですか？Can you do me a favor?
Tom: はい、いいですよ！ Yes, no problem.
Third: At the end of a phone call / email…
It can never go wrong for you to place “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” at the end of a phone call or an email. The expression in the third group is mainly about showing your politeness.
(Conversation when Tom is making an appointment with a dental clinic on the phone)
Tom: 明日10時の予約はまだ取れますか？Is it available to make an appointment at 10 tomorrow?
Clinic: はい、大丈夫ですよ。 Yes, it’s still available.
Tom: では、その時間でお願いします。よろしくお願いします。Then , I will take the appointment.
How to reply to “yoroshiku onegaishimasu”
To be simple, you can say こちらこそよろしくお願いします (kochirakoso yoroshiku onegaishimasu) to most of the occasion.
“kochirakoso” literally means “me, too”.
“Kochira” means “this side” which refers to the person who is talking.
“koso” is a word hard to define as well. But basically, “koso” emphasizes the word that comes in front of it.
In the case of someone asking you for a favor, you can reply かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita), which is a rather formal of わかりました (wakarimashita) meaning “I got it” or “no problem”.
When attending important events or interviews, I was always told “overdressed is always better than underdressed”. The same concept may help you in the process of learning those complicated formal forms of Japanese. Even though you are still at the early stage of learning the language that you still have difficulties producing a full sentence, try putting “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” in your conversation or message. I am sure the person on the other side can receive your regards. On the other hand, you will be able to understand the meaning gradually by using “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” practically.