When Asking Someone Out Is Ambiguous – 付き合ってください
You like someone romantically. 好きです (I like/love you)！You want to ask that person out? 付き合ってください (Please go out with me)！You now have yourself a boyfriend/girlfriend (彼氏・彼女). Congratulations! Straightforward Japan. No ambiguity (曖昧さ). Ha.
付き合ってください is the polite request form of 付き合う. Which has the following diverse group of meanings:
1. Hang out with
2. Go somewhere with
3. Go around together with
4. Keep company with
5. Accompany someone
6. Go steady with
7. Go out with
So when that handsome guy/beautiful girl (美男美女) tells you
You may be in for a major high followed by a major low.
Now context is important.
If someone tells you that they are in love with you followed by 付き合ってください, you are in the clear.
If someone tells you that they are headed to the local 7-11 followed by 付き合ってください, you are not now in a relationship.
These are obvious examples. But it is often not as clear. And for this reason this is a major phrase used in TV/manga/books that sets up a minor romantic misunderstanding for humor or plot.
As I always say, try it out. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up in a relationship you never saw coming. And if you did want to ask someone out, and they turn you down, you can save face and pretend like you were just asking them to hang out.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
So what’s the real way to ask someone out without confusion? Just say 好きです、付き合いってください？ or is there another way?
If you set the context right, you kind of just know (as with a lot of Japanese). But yes, it is very common to say (name)のことが好きです。私と付き合ってください！
If you really think that there might be a misunderstanding then 「彼女になってください」is also natural.
It’s funny how I acquired such things naturally. When I started my Japanese adventure 3 years ago I thought “Damn, you will never understand this language”. Once you thought you know a word good enough… it’s suddenly used in a way you just don’t understand. After these 3 years and a lot of immersion I just know naturally why it is like that. I don’t get the nuance always, but I’ve started a long time ago to “feel” the language. My speaking is still weak (Because I’ve almost never said or written a thing in Japanese) but I don’t rush with that. I enjoy listening and reading and I haven’t spoken a word until 5 in my native language and I hadn’t any disadvantage due to that ;)
I’m quite happy about my Japanese because I’m more or less on the same level like a 3 years old kid. At first I thought Japanese was a impossible language to learn. Now I know that it isn’t more difficult than other languages at all and better japanese = more fun.