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"Desu" just for politeness

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"Desu" just for politeness

Postby MFoogle » Wed 07.23.2008 8:31 pm

When you're talking to someone older/with more respect than you, I know you normally need to say "desu" a lot. But after everything? Like can you just say "Hontou ni?" or "Doushite?" or something just by itself, or do you always need desu?
So...is there ever too much desu?
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby chikara » Wed 07.23.2008 8:43 pm

Your examples are both questions so you need to add "desu ka" not simply "desu" to both of those to make them more polite sounding.

"Hontou ni desu ka"
"Doushite desu ka"
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby MFoogle » Wed 07.23.2008 8:59 pm

Well yah, but do you need to add "desu [ka]" after everything (with the exceptions of verbs and such)? Does it ever get tiring during a conversation at all? "Sou desu ka?" "Maji desu ka?" "Hontou desu ka?" "Doushite desu ka?" "Kore desu." "Sore desu." "Asoko desu."

And bringing up "hontou ni desu ka?" do you need the "ni" when it's only desu? I thought you didn't use it then.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby richvh » Wed 07.23.2008 9:01 pm

I don't think 本当にですか is grammatical. You ought to say 本当ですか instead.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby chikara » Wed 07.23.2008 9:14 pm

richvh wrote:I don't think 本当にですか is grammatical. You ought to say 本当ですか instead.

I wondered that but I got plenty of Googits.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 07.23.2008 10:19 pm

MFoogle wrote:Well yah, but do you need to add "desu [ka]" after everything (with the exceptions of verbs and such)? Does it ever get tiring during a conversation at all? "Sou desu ka?" "Maji desu ka?" "Hontou desu ka?" "Doushite desu ka?" "Kore desu." "Sore desu." "Asoko desu."


I would recommend against "maji desu ka" since "maji" is a slang word to begin with. Sometimes kids will say "majissu ka" but that's not really something to emulate, IMO.

But yes, in general, you always need to end sentences with masu forms when speaking politely to someone, whether you are tired of it or not. Often native Japanese will end sentences with -te forms or "kedo..." even in polite speech so they actually don't end up using "desu" as much as you might think.

And bringing up "hontou ni desu ka?" do you need the "ni" when it's only desu? I thought you didn't use it then.


This is an example of the widening use of "desu" as a general politeness marker that can be added to virtually anything. I think that "hontou ni desu ka" is still not widespread enough to recommend its use, though.

(Are "hontou?" and "hontou ni?" interchangeable?)
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby richvh » Thu 07.24.2008 8:09 am

chikara wrote:
richvh wrote:I don't think 本当にですか is grammatical. You ought to say 本当ですか instead.

I wondered that but I got plenty of Googits.

Put quotes around it and the numbers drop drastically.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 07.24.2008 10:12 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:

(Are "hontou?" and "hontou ni?" interchangeable?)


As far as I know there is no real distinction.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby MFoogle » Thu 07.24.2008 11:29 am

Not a big change, really, I guess. One's just an adverb and one's a noun/adj.

本当に 【ほんとうに(P); ほんとに(ik)】 (adv) really; truly;
本当 【ほんとう(P); ほんと(ik)】 (adj-na,n) truth; reality

And I have another question now that I think about it.

When you're talking to your parents/grandparents/etc., and you're really close to them, do you still need to use formal speech just because of their age/status? And what if you have a really close friend who's twice your age or something?
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 07.24.2008 1:30 pm

MFoogle wrote:Not a big change, really, I guess. One's just an adverb and one's a noun/adj.

本当に 【ほんとうに(P); ほんとに(ik)】 (adv) really; truly;
本当 【ほんとう(P); ほんと(ik)】 (adj-na,n) truth; reality

And I have another question now that I think about it.

When you're talking to your parents/grandparents/etc., and you're really close to them, do you still need to use formal speech just because of their age/status? And what if you have a really close friend who's twice your age or something?



AS for parents, none of the kids I ran into would be extra polite to their parents. It was a mix of plain and polite forms. most conversation was plain form. I imagine that it might change as the children get older. Those that I saw were from the ages of 3-14 or so.

I just don't know that there is a "hard" rule and I imagine that each family has their own set of do's and don'ts when it comes to "keigo."
Last edited by two_heads_talking on Fri 07.25.2008 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby Mike Cash » Fri 07.25.2008 9:50 am

MFoogle wrote:Does it ever get tiring during a conversation at all?


Only about as tiring as having to use am/are/is/etc is when speaking English.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby MFoogle » Fri 07.25.2008 11:50 am

Another real quick and somewhat stupid question: you can answer a question with just "tabemasu," etc. and without a subject or anything. Can you answer a question with just "desu?"
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.25.2008 11:51 am

No. "desu" is not a predicate by itself.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby MFoogle » Fri 07.25.2008 11:52 am

Ok, thank you. It sounded a bit funny to me, but I didn't know if it was possible or not.
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Re: "Desu" just for politeness

Postby Sairana » Fri 07.25.2008 1:17 pm

You can, however, reply with そうです or just そう

:)
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