JLPT N4 Grammar: 〜ましょうか (How to say "Shall I…" in Japanese)

Do you know how to offer help in Japanese?  Given that Japanese is such a polite language, it is important to know how to offer someone help in Japanese.  That’s why this article examines the JLPT N4 Grammar point: ましょうか (mashou ka).
This article is a companion blog for the video above available on Youtube.  Watch the video first, and then review with this article!

How to Use JLPT N4 Grammar: ましょうか in Japanese

This JLPT N4 point is a grammatical conjugation for verbs to offer a favor.  It’s a way to express “shall I help?” and offer assistance to the listener in Japanese.
If you see someone in trouble or someone who looks like they need some help, you can use ましょうか and offer to help them out.
Change the ます to ましょうか to offer help for whatever the verb says.
(for more information on ます verb conjugation, check out our basic grammar article here
The form is:
Verb (ます form) + ましょうか
Notice that it ends in か (ka).  This is because it is a question.  You are offering help in a polite manner that says “shall I do (xyz) for you?”
Let’s look at some examples!

Example 1:

Nami-sensei: 実は、この仕事を6時までに終わらせなきゃいけないんですが、たくさんありすぎて間に合わないです!
jitsu wa, kono shigoto o roku ji made ni owarasenakya ikenaindesu ga, takusan arisugite mani awanai desu!
The thing is, I have to finish this work by 6 PM, but there is too much to do and I won’t make it in time!
Person B: 私、今日は時間があるので、手伝いましょうか?
watashi, kyou wa jikan ga aru no de, tetsudaimashou ka?
I have extra time today; shall I help you?
In the above example, Nami-sensei needs help finishing her work – but she has no time!  This is why person B offers to help her because they have extra time.  Notice also their polite use of ので.
This is the conjugation of the verb “to help”:
手伝う → 手伝います → 手伝いましょうか
Let’s look at another example.

Example 2

In this example from the video above, Nami-sensei is found carrying some heavy books.  Upon seeing a troubled Nami-sensei, a co worker says the following:
Nami-san, nimotsu o mochimashou ka?
Nami-san, shall I help carry those books?
This sentence is a bit more nuanced.  Even though the word 荷物 (meaning luggage) is used, in this context it is referring to books.  Which is why translated it would be “carry those books.”
Here is the conjugation:
持つ → 持ちます → 持ちましょうか
From the context we add the word “help” in the translation, so it becomes “shall I help carry…”

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