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Exercise 6: Refusing Polite Offers



Before practicing refusing an offer, you are asked to observe the language of making and accepting an offer. This is because knowing a common structure for making an offer will probably help you to become strategic in the act of refusing one. In this dialogue, the first speaker is the host, who is entertaining the second speaker, the guest, and currently offering him/her some more food.

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While in some cultures the guest may not be so shy about getting more food, some Japanese speakers may prefer to appear reserved at first before finally accepting more food, especially on formal occasions or in distant relationships. Since accepting an offer works in favor of the guest in Japanese culture, it is a modest (and nice) gesture to gradually reveal one’s true intentions in negotiation with the host. However, this “ritual refusal” routine makes it difficult to make an actual refusal when you really don’t want any more.



This exercise will focus on refusing offers politely and graciously. In each of the situations below, write down as many expressions of refusal as you can think of. Listen to some samples when you are done.


Situation 1

You have been living with your host family in Japan for only a few days. At dinner, when you are about to finish your plate, your host mom offers you a second helping.
Write what you would say to her in this situation.


Host mom: おかわり、いかが? Okawari ikaga?
1. You: (write as many possible lines as you can think of)

Host mom: まだいっぱいあるのよ。 Mada ippai arunoyo.

2. You: (write as many possible lines as you can think of)

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Situation 2:

Several good friends of yours are treating you to dinner for your birthday. They offer to order you even more food and drink, but you’ve already had enough.

Friend: もう少しなんか頼もうか、飲み物? Mou sukoshi nanka tanomouka, nomimono?

3. You (write as many possible lines as you can think of)

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Listen to Another Sample Dialogue

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Your section (if applicable)/Your last name, Your first name:
Example: (in a box) 010/Smith, John

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