A, sore, omosō-desu-ne. Mochimashō-ka? (Oh, they look heavy. Shall I carry them?)

Situation 1: Ms. Kawasaki is carrying a lot of files and boxes at the office. Mr. Sere offers to help her.

セレ: あ、それ、重そうですね。持ちましょうか。

川崎: いえ、だいじょうぶです。ああ、じゃ、この箱だけお願いできますか。

Sere: A, sore, omosō-desu-ne. Mochimashō-ka?

Kawasaki: Ie, daijōbu-desu. Aa, ja, kono hako-dake onegai-dekimasu-ka?

Sere: Oh, they look heavy. Shall I carry them?

Kawasaki: No, thank you. Oh, well, could you take this box only?

Today, we will introduce some uses of Xましょうか. X is a verb in masu-form without ます. Xましょうか is used when the speaker is offering to help or to do something for the listener. This pattern is pronounced with a rising intonation. The listener usually replies with お願(ねが)いします (Please) or ありがとうございます(Thank you very much).

Example: 「ちょっと寒(さむ)くなってきましたね。エアコンをつけましょうか。」「あ、ありがとうございます。」 (“It’s getting cold. Shall I turn on the air conditioner?” “Oh, thank you very much.”) The casual version of Xましょうか is X[verb in volitional form]か? Example: 「これ、コピーしてこようか?」「うん、お願(ねが)い。」 (“Shall I copy this?” “Yes, please.”)

Situation 2: Staff members are having lunch at a cafeteria.

ティエン: あ、もう12時50分ですね。そろそろ戻りましょうか。

芝: ええ、行きましょう。2時からMN社と打ち合わせですね。

Tian: A, mō juniji gojuppun-desu-ne. Sorosoro modorimashō-ka?

Shiba: Ee, ikimashō. Niji-kara MN-sha-to uchiawase-desu-ne.

Tian: Oh, it’s already 12:50. Shall we go back to the office?

Shiba: Yes, let’s go. We’re going to have a meeting with MN-Company from 2 p.m.

Xましょうか can be used when the speaker tries to invite or urge the listener to do X with the speaker. This pattern is pronounced with a falling intonation. The listener answers as in Xましょう(let’s X). The casual version is also X[verb in volitional form]か。 Example: 「眠(ねむ)くなってきちゃったね。コーヒーでも飲(の)もうか。」「うん、そうしよう。」 (“We’re getting sleepy. Shall we have coffee?” “Yeah, let’s do that.”)

Xましょうか is used when there is a premise that both the speaker and the listener are going to do X and the speaker asks or urges the listener to do X. Therefore, if the speaker says Xましょうか when the listener is not thinking to do X, it can sound too sudden. In such a case, Xませんか is adequate instead, as in よかったら、今度(こんど)、一緒(いっしょ)にテニスをしませんか。 (Why don’t we play tennis together next time if you like?)

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Shiba and Mr. Tian are working overtime at the office.

ティエン: それ、あしたまでに終(お)わらせなきゃならないんですよね。手伝(てつだ)いましょうか。

芝: え、いいんですか? じゃ、すみませんが、どれでもけっこうですから、やりやすい仕事(しごと)をお願(ねが) いします。

ティエン: じゃ、表(ひょう)を作成(さくせい)しましょうか。表を作 (つく)るのは好(す)きなんです。

芝: まあ、それはすごい。私(わたし)は苦手(にがて)なんです。ぜひ、お願(ねが)いします。

ティエン: ほかには何(なに)かありませんか。

芝: いえ、もうないです。ティエンさんに手伝っていただいたら、思(おも)ったよりも早(はや)く終(お)わりそうです。

ティエン: じゃ、7時(しちじ)までには終わらせましょうか。あまり遅(おそ)くまで残業(ざんぎょう)していると、上(うえ)の人(ひと)に注意(ちゅうい)されるから。

芝: ええ、このごろは何よりもワーク・ライフ・バランスが大切(たいせつ)ですものね。

Tian: You have to finish it by tomorrow, right? Shall I help you?

Shiba: Yeah, is that alright? Sorry to ask, but I have an easy job that you could do.

Tian: Well, should I make the charts? I like doing that kind of work.

Shiba: That would be great. I’m bad at making charts. Please do that.

Tian: Do you have any other work for me?

Shiba: No, I don’t have any more. With your help, it seems I’ll be likely to finish this work earlier than I expected.

Tian: Then, shall we try to finish the work by 7 p.m.? If we stay at work too late, our boss will notice and tell us off.

Shiba: Yes. These days there is nothing more important than a good work-life balance.

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