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Making an appointment

Honorific expressions at the restaurant or the store

In Japan, restaurant staff and store staff use honorific expressions to their customers. This is particularly evident on the phone.
In Japanese, honorific expressions come in different levels and are confusing even to the Japanese; sometimes they sound nothing like the original forms they derive from and sometimes they are accompanied by O- which is like a prefix. It is important not to be confused by honorific expressions and focus on keywords.

Of course, when you are a customer receiving services, you don't need to use honorific expressions.

Here are some honorific expressions which are frequently used.
Also, see Building Up Conversation, Level 3 for more information about Japanese honorific expressions.

ありますございますto have
ですで ございますis, are, am
あいて いますあいて おりますto be available
おねがい しますおねがい いたしますplease, thank you
わかりましたかしこまりましたsure, certainly, I see
すいません/すみませんもうしわけ ございませんI'm sorry
でんわばんごうおでんわばんごうtelephone number
いいですかよろしいですですか。Is it okay?
きますいらっしゃいますto come (to go, to be at)


Moshimoshi means "Hello" on the phone and this is used only on the phone nowadays. When you identify yourself to someone who doesn't know you, you say your name and add mooshimasu; [name] to mooshimasu. This is a very proper way to tell your name and you should use it when making an enquiry to a store, a restaurant or a company.

There are some expressions used for telephone conversation in the next chapter, which you may find useful.


Yoyaku refers to a reservation at a restaurant, at a hotel, on a train etc. and an appointment with a hairdresser, a doctor etc... By adding shimasu, i.e. yoyaku shimasu, it becomes a verb "to reserve/book".

Use the following expressions when you want to make a reservation or an appointment.

a.よやく したいんですが。
I would like to to make an appointment.
b.よやく おねがい します。
A reservation, please.

Shi-tai-n desu ga is a set phrase which is a combination of the verb shimasu and tai-n desu ga indicating a request or a wish. This set phrase is often used for indicating one's desire and for seeking someone's approval.

きんようびの ばん、4にんですが、あいていますか。

When wanting to check if there are any seats, rooms etc. available or if there is any time available, use aiteimasu ka? or yoyaku dekimasu ka?.

When making a reservation or an appointment on the phone, don't go into too much detail. Instead, provide key pieces of information such as date, time and how many people, which is the key to successfully getting yourself understood in Japanese.

a.きんようびの ばん、4にん(ですが)、あいていますか。
Friday night for four people. Will you have any table available?
b.どようびの 11じ(は) あいていますか。
Will it be available at 11 on Saturday?
c.こんばん、5にん、7じごろから、よやく できますか。
Can I make a reservation for five people tonight, around 7?

desu ga in (a) softens the tone of the whole sentence and is often used when expressing one's desire in a polite, roundabout way. It is however quite all right to omit it. The particle wa in (b) is used for choosing one from a selection of things in this particular context. Again, it is all right to omit in a sentence. What's most important is that you focus on keywords. Make sure that you say keywords clearly.

When the date or the time you request is not available to you, you are most likely to receive responses such as Suimasen "I'm sorry" or the honorific version of it, Mooshiwake gozaimasu "I'm truly sorry", or Ainiku desu ga "Unfortunately,". These expressions all mean "No" in other words.

When suggesting the second option, use doo desu ka? "How about...?".

d.ごごは どうですか。
How about in the afternoon?

Use the following expressions if you want to ask someone about their availability, i.e. date, time etc.

e.いつが あいていますか。
When would it be available?
f.かようびは なんじが あいていますか。
What time will it be available on Tuesday?
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