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Do Without Asking / 勝手ながら

Here’s a nice little piece of grammar that you can use instantly to convey a polite message. How to write a note telling someone you’re taking the day off with Katte Nagara (勝手ながら).

Written out then:

明日、10月1日(金)。勝手ながらお休みさせていただきます。

(In hiragana: あした、じゅうがつ ついたち(きん)。かってながら おやすみ させていただきます。)


明日、10月1日(金)。

The first part of this note is dead easy: Tomorrow on 1st October (Friday).

The second part is the really interesting chunk in terms of grammar and keigo (polite language). The grammar here is

勝手ながら

勝手ながら is something of a fixed expression which, depending on the context, can translate to something like ‘doing without asking’ or ‘taking the liberty to do’. It also carries the feeling of being selfish or uncooperative, which is important in this case as explained further below.

お休みさせていただきます。

Roughly translated: ‘We will take a holiday’. The させていただきます here is the polite keigo form of the verb する, to do. We could also write it as: お休みします, or the more regular form, simply 休みます when keigo is not needed. Thinking in literal terms, it might sound something like this:

‘I will receive you letting me take a holiday’.

させる is ‘to let’ or ‘to make’ – the causative form of する. いただく is the polite form of もらう – ‘to receive’. Be careful though – when using させていただく on its own, the effect can be very strong. It has a sort of final edge to it, like ‘I will do this and there’s no changing my mind’. It can sound almost selfish at times, so it’s best used in conjunction with other softening words. In this case that such word is 勝手ながら.

In this note however, the the message is written by a company called 彩 弁当 (Aya Bento) that makes packed lunches. They are announcing that they will take an day off on 1st October. They usually work on this day so adding the 勝手ながら is important here because it neutralises the otherwise forceful effect of させていただく – ‘we are selfishly taking a holiday without prior warning’.

When we put it altogether and clean things up, a translation might look something like this:

We apologise for the inconvenience, but will be taking the day off on Friday 1st October.

Notice how, although no apologies are specifically mentioned, it is included in the phrase because of the keigo and special words chosen. Here’s another dictionary example for reference:

誠に勝手ながら今月末もって閉業させていただきます。 We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience it may cause, but we will cease business at the end of this month.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments :).

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8 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)
    -Sabrina

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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