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Introducing two adverbs: ‘dozo’ and ‘do ka’

by and

Special To The Japan Times

Kōhii-o dōzo. (Please have a cup of coffee.)

Situation 1: In his office, Mr. Suzuki offers a cup of coffee to his client Mr. Tian.

鈴木: コーヒーをどうぞ。

ティエン: あ、ありがとうございます。

Suzuki: Kōhii-o dōzo.

Tian: A, arigatō-gozaimasu.

Suzuki: Can I offer you a cup of coffee?

Tian: Oh, thank you very much.

Today we’ll introduce two adverbs, どうぞ and どうか, that can be translated as “please.” どうぞ is used when someone requests something or politely expresses their wish. Examples: どうぞ こちらからお入(はい)りください (Please enter from here); お先 (さき)にどうぞ (Please go first). どうぞ is also used to offer or pass something to someone, as in Mr. Suzuki’s remark above. Another example is 「はさみ、とって」「はい、どうぞ」 (“Pass me the scissors.” “Here you go.”). どうぞ can also be used to introduce someone who is about to speak or appear on a stage. Example: 次(つぎ)にリーさんがスピーチをされます。では、リーさん、どうぞ(Next, Mr. Lee will give a speech. Over to you, Mr. Lee.) Furthermore, どうぞ can be used when the speaker accepts a request or gives permission. In such cases, it can be translated as “sure” or “certainly.” Examples: 「このクッキー、もう一ついただけませんか」 「ええ、どうぞ」 (“Can I have another one of these cookies?” “Sure, go ahead.”) ;「このコピー機(き)、使(つか)わせていただいてもいいですか」「あ、どうぞ」(“May I use this copy machine?” “Certainly”) .

Situation 2: Ms. Gray is chatting with her colleague Ms. Omiya about Ms. Shibuya.

グレイ: 渋谷さん、仕事を辞めるんですか。

大宮: そうらしいです。でも、このことはどうかだれにも言わないでくださいね。

Gurei: Shibuya-san, kaisha-o yameru-n-desu-ka?

Ōmiya: Sō-rashii-desu. Demo, kono koto-wa dōka dare-ni-mo iwanaide-kudasai-ne.

Gray: Is Ms. Shibuya quitting her job?

Omiya: Apparently, but please don’t mention it to anybody.

どうか, also meaning “please,” is used when a speaker makes a request. In this usage, どうか and どうぞ are similar in meaning, but どうぞ is used only when the speaker strongly requests or asks for something that may be difficult to realize. どうか is mainly used with requests, such as in the the form verb (te-form)+ください(ませんか), or with ように, similar to when someone prays to a higher power. Example: どうか合格(ごうかく)できますように (Oh please, God, let me pass the exam).

Bonus Dialogue: Mrs. Okubo visits Mrs. Nakata, one of her friends from high school.

中田: いらっしゃい。どうぞこちらに座(すわ)って。…スコーンを作(つく)たのよ。どうぞ。

大久保: わあ、おいしそう。いただきます。

中田: 息子(むすこ)さん、光男(みつお)くんは来年(らい ねん)受験(じゅけん)だっけ? 早(はや)いものね。

大久保: うん、そうなの。とても心配(しんぱい)なの。…あ、このスコーン、すごくおいしい。もう一(ひと)ついただいてもいい?

中田: どうぞどうぞ。このジャムをつけてもいいのよ。 どうぞ。

大久保: ありがとう。初詣(はつもうで)では、来年 (らいねん)、光男がどうか合格(ごうかく)できますようにって、お祈(いの)りしたんだけど。本人(ほんにん)はのんびりしていて。

中田: だいじょうぶ。大久保(おおくぼ)さんだって、高校生(こうこうせい)のころはのんびりしていて、ぎりぎりまで勉強(べんきょう)しなかったじゃない?

大久保: ああ、そうだった。でも、このことはどうか光男には言(い)わないでね。

Nakata: Come in. Please take a seat. … I baked some scones. Please help yourself.

Okubo: Wow, they look really good. Thank you.

Nakata: Is your son Mitsuo taking entrance exams next year? Time really does fly.

Okubo: Yeah. I’m so worried about him. … Oh, this scone is delicious. Can I have another one?

Nakata: Sure, go ahead. It goes well with this jam, too. Here you go.

Okubo: Thanks. When I visited a Shinto shrine for New Year’s, I prayed to the gods for him to pass his exams next year. But he seems so laid-back about it.

Nakata: He’ll be fine. You were easy-going in high school yourself. I don’t remember you studying until the last minute.

Okubo: Oh, that’s true. But please don’t tell Mitsuo that.