Covering Japanese Casual Slip-Ups With Politeness

Covering Japanese Casual Slip-Ups With PolitenessIf you are talking to your boss, a customer, a client, an elder, someone senior to you, someone you just met, then you are probably in polite mode. Things are going well into you slip in an 俺 (casual I used by young males), a ぜ (casual sentence ender used by young guys to show emphasis), or a だよね(casual “right?!”). You’ve broken your politeness vow. What do you do? How can you naturally glide back in without looking foolish.

This is often an instantaneous problem that requires lightening flash reflexes. As you say the inappropriate word, you realize your error, and immediately are in need of a fix. There is no time to flounder.

No matter what you do, the other person will catch on, but you might as well adjust your politeness like the Japanese do when they make the same obvious errors.

There are 3 basic rules:

1. If your sentence starts with a casual word (like 俺), immediately follow it by the polite version (私 or 僕)

2. If you have already proceeded through the sentence, and can’t fix the first word, make sure to at least end the sentence with the polite form (です、ます、etc.)

3. If your casual slip-up comes up at the end of a sentence, just add a です(the polite sentence ender) regardless of whether it is grammatically correct. So your 明日行くよ, should become 明日行くよ…です

Let’s put it all together with a manga scene and an awkward attempt at covering up casual Japanese.

 Covering Up Japanese Casual Slip-Ups With Politeness - 1


Covering Up Japanese Casual Slip-Ups With Politeness 3

Sometimes your だ sentence-ender might merge with です

Does he pull it off well? Of course not. But at least you can be like him…

Any other strategies you use to recover from a casual slip-up?

Related posts:

The following two tabs change content below.


Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Covering Japanese Casual Slip-Ups With Politeness — 6 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, whenever I feel I’ve been rude to someone in Japanese, I apologize with a long explanation like, “私はまだ初心者のでbぁえjふぉいj・・・”

    It’s TERRIBLE. Hahaha!

    • So now you can try replacing your long apology with just a well placed/slightly awkward です at the end!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *