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Refusals in Japanese


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Contents in Refusals Unit:

As you move through examples and exercises you will learn about refusals in Japanese.

A refusal can be a response to a request, an invitation, an offer, or a suggestion addressed to the speaker.  What is common to most refusals is the fact that the speaker is communicating a potentially undesirable message as far as the hearer is concerned. What strategies then should be used to mitigate a refusal in Japanese?  Are they any unwritten rules we should know in making and interpreting refusals in Japanese?

Exercises 1-2: Observing Refusals in Japanese

Unlike accepting an invitation or complying with a request, refusing one is usually not a pleasant speech act to perform. What strategies can we use in Japanese in order to build and maintain a good personal relationship despite the fact that we are refusing an offer or a request that someone is extending to us?

Go to Exercise 1

Go to Exercise 2

Exercises 3: Reasons for Refusals      

Offering some vague, generic reasons is often appropriate behavior when refusing in Japanese. What are the typical expressions, and when are they used instead of more specific ones?

Go to Exercise 3

Exercises 4: Making Your Refusals Incomplete

Funny as it may sound, a commonly used strategy among native speakers of Japanese in making a refusal is leaving their sentence(s) incomplete. What does this mean, and how is it done?

Go to Exercise 4

Exercises 5-6: Refusing Continuing Requests/Invitations/offers 

Despite your initial refusal, some interlocutors may pursue their agenda a little further and try to get you to help, or to accept their invitation/offer.  You may find yourself in a dilemma, wanting to help or accept it, yet knowing that it is impossible.  What are some strategies to deal with such situations without hurting your interlocutors’ feelings or offending them? 

Go to Exercise 5

Go to Exercise 6

     Coffee Break

Even among good friends, sometimes it is a challenge to preach! Listen to this unsuccessful dialogue by our voice actors!

Click Below to Listen

Exercise 7: More Refusal Strategies

This exercise will review the strategies that have already been discussed in previous exercises and introduce still others that are commonly used. 

Go to Exercise 7

Exercises 8: Tone of Refusals

As with any other speech acts, your tone of voice in making a refusal is crucial – it could make the refusal sound either sincere or untruthful. Listen and practice so that your refusals will signal that you would really want to do otherwise.

Go to Exercise 8

Exercises 9-10: Simulation Exercises for Making a Refusal

Now let’s just practice all that we have learned about refusals! You will be asked to self-evaluate the refusals you have given in these exercises.

Go to Exercise 9

Go to Exercise 10

Revisiting Useful Links

Ex1 Comments

Ex2 Comments

Ex3 Comments

Ex4 Comments

Ex5 Comments

Ex6 Comments

Ex7 Comments

Ex7 Strategies Summary

Ex9 Comments

Ex10 Comments


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