Japanese Conversation

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Taxi

Telling a taxi driver a destination

Haneda kuukoo, onegai shimasu.
Haneda Airport, please.

Use the phrase onegai shimasu when telling a taxi driver your destination. Please note that in this context, you cannot use kudasai.

You can of course use kudasai when ordering at the restaurant and shopping in the store, e.g. Koohii o kudasai, but remember, kudasai literally means "Please give me..." and therefore, it isn't quite right to say Haneda kuukoo o kudasai.

Nowadays, most taxis are equipped with car navigation systems in Japan. The simplest way to tell your destination is to show the taxi driver the address you wish to reach (if you know it in advance) on a piece of paper.

Please note that not many taxis accept credit cards in Japan. Use the expression below to check if you can use your credit card before getting in a taxi. Incidentally, tsukaemasu is the potential form of the verb tsukaimasu (to use).

Kaado wa tsukaemasu ka?
Can I use my credit card?

Giving a taxi driver instructions

It is quite hard for a beginner in Japanese to give a taxi driver specific instructions. Especially, in big cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka, many narrow streets criss-cross each other. Trying to give instructions in detail will rather make it confusing for a taxi driver to understand.

A tip for a beginner in Japanese to be successful in this context is to give a taxi driver the minimum necessary information clearly, word by word. Here are some keywords which are often used for giving directions.

migirightkokohere, this street
hidarileftsokothere
massugustraighttsugi no (kado)next (corner)
shingootraffic lightsono (kado)that (corner)
koosatencrossingano (kado)that (corner)
kadocornerhitotsu-me no (kado)first (corner)
michiload, streetfutatsu-me no (kado)second (corner)
dooroload, streetmittsu-me no (kado)third (corner)
Meiji-DooriMeiji street[land mark] no chikakunear [land mark]
a.Tsugi no shingoo [o] migi [ni] onegai shimasu.
Turn right at the next traffic lights, please.
b.Sono shingoo [o] massugu onegai shimasu.
Go straight through those traffic lights, please.

The above example sentences include [o] and [ni] which are both particles but let's not go into the details of particles for now.
In a situation such as giving a taxi driver instructions, you don't have to use absolutely grammatically correct sentences. What's more important is to know keywords, such as tsugi no shingoo, migi, hidari and massugu. It won't do any harm if you omitted some particles.

Itte kudasai, magatte kudasai

Kudasai literally means "Please give me" in Japanese and combining it with a verb in the te form, it makes a request.

a.Koko o massugu itte kudasai.
Koko, massugu onegai shimasu.
Go straight along this street, please.
b.Sono kado o hidari ni magatte kudasai.
Sono kado, hidari ni onegai shimasu.
Turn left at that corner, please.
c.Ano konbini no mae de tomete kudasai.
Ano konbini no mae de ii desu.
Pull over in front of that convenience store, please.
In front of that convenience store will do, thanks.

As shown in the above example sentences, itte is the te form of ikimasu (to go), magatte is the te form of magarimasu (to turn), and tomete is the te form of tomemasu (to stop).

Also, you can simply replace the pattern "verb te form + kudasai" with onegai shimasu (see a. and b.). Please note, however, that you cannot use onegai shimasu when asking the taxi driver to stop. Say [place] de tomete kudasai or [place] de ii desu instead.

The use of the te form of verbs is explained in detail in Building Up Conversation through many different expressions. Please see these materials if you would like to learn more about the te form of verbs.

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