Quick! What's the difference between these two sentences:
Japanese is full of words that stick two verbs together to create either a new nuance or a more-or-less totally new meaning. Today, let's look at this with a very common *and useful* example.
Last week, we took a look at Basho's most famous haiku (Click here for that lesson). In that poem we see this compound verb:
This means "to jump in" and is describing the act of the frog jumping into the ancient pond.
It is made up of 飛ぶ (to fly; to jump) and こむ (into; to go into). So, it makes sense that together it would mean "to jump in."
Compound verbs make Japanese so rich in nuance and meaning.
Today, my question is what is the difference between 話してください and 話しかけてください?
Let's start with the non-compound verb.
This simply means "Please speak."
It is the て form of the verb 話す (to speak; to talk). Adding the て form of a verb to ください is a polite way to ask someone to do something.
Now, let's look at the compound verb.
This is more like, "Please strike up a conversation" or "Please initiate a conversation" or "Please address (someone)".
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Okay, back to the program.
With 話しかけて, we have the same main verb 話す (to speak; to talk) but this time it is the ます stem form.
ます is the polite form of a verb and the stem just means the ます form of the verb minus the ます.
So, 話す (to speak, plain form) becomes 話します (to speak, polite form) and then we drop the ます to get 話し
Now, we simply add かけて which is the て form of かける.
かける means lots of things like "to hang" or "to take (time)" or about a billion other things. But when added to certain verbs like this, it implies the beginning or initiation of an action.
So, 話しかけてください is asking someone politely to start a conversation. "Please strike up a conversation."
Wrapping Things Up
In summary, while 話してください is a general request for someone to speak, 話しかけてください is specifically asking someone to initiate a conversation or to address the speaker.
I hope you found this interesting, and I hope didn't over complicate the explanation, but this is a very polite and useful way to ask someone to speak to you.
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