英語のヒント vol. XIV: 日本人がよくやるミス 5 - "Please teach me English"

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Dec 4, 2013 19:09 mistakes ミス 英語のヒント hint
Hello everyone!

I want to finish my skydiving story in Japanese, but I will do it tomorrow and Friday. Time for an English Hint entry ^^

Today we discuss another very common mistake. I think the sentence in Japanese is:

"英語を教えてください。"

Many, many Japanese people have translated this into English and said to me:

"Please teach me English."

However, this is not a good sentence! Of course, I can understand what you mean, but the nuances of this sentence are not really good.

The problem is saying "teach me ~" sounds very commanding and demanding, like you are giving an order (even if you say "please"). Of course, it depends on how you say it (the tone) but because written language has no tone, it can easily seem a bit too demanding.

Something a little better: "Can you please teach me English?"

However, this still isn't the best way to say what you want. It still sounds very imposing--like you are saying "teach me ALL of the English language" or "please be responsible for me learning English" or "make a plan so I can learn." It sounds like you are asking so much of the other person.

So, with these two points in mind, the way to say ""英語を教えてください" in a kind, unimposing manner would be:

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1. "Could you help me learn English?"

This is showing that YOU are doing most of the work (learning English, not them TEACHING you) and they don't have to do so much (HELP instead of TEACH)

2. "Would you be able to help me learn English?"

This is even more polite because you are now asking about their ability ("be able to"). Even though you are asking about their ability, you are implying a request. Native speakers use this form ALL THE TIME ("would you be able to ~") to ask for a favor so it's really useful to know!

3. "If it's not asking too much, I would love if you could help me learn English."

Probably even more polite than the last sentence. Now you aren't even asking them a question! You are humbling yourself ("If it's not asking too much") and just stating that you would be happy if they could help.

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Of course, all of the above sentences basically mean "英語を教えてください" but sooooooo much of meaning in English (well, any language, really) is not based on what you say but HOW you say it. I hope this helps!

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