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Japanese Grammar – MO II DESU KA (もいいですか)

もいいですか (mo ii desu ka) is a polite way to ask permission.  It should always come after the te-form of a verb.  It is very similar to “Can I” or “May I” in English.  Let’s start by breaking down the polite and casual forms:

Polite Form: (te-form verb) + もいいですか
 Casual Form: (te-form verb) + もいい

 

For example,

テレビもいいですか
Telebi wo mite mo ii desu ka
(Can I watch television?)
Telebi wo mite mo ii desu ka

 

 

 

If someone wants to respond to this and give them their full permission, they can simply drop the question particle か (ka).  Here’s the response:

はい。テレビもいいです。
Hai.  Telebi wo mite mo ii desu.
(Yes.  You may watch television.)

Hai. Telebi wo mite mo ii desu

Another way to give permission is by simply replying with どうぞ (douzo) which means “Please go ahead”).

If someone wants to deny permission, they should use はいけません (te wa ikemasen) which means “you may not”.  This will be demonstrated in the response below.

Question:

チョコレートべてもいいですか
chokoreeto o tabete mo ii desu ka
(Can I eat these chocolates?)

chokoreeto o tabete mo ii desu ka

Response:

いいえ。チョコレートべていけません
Iie.  chokoreeto o tabete wa ikemasen.
No.  You may not eat the chocolates.

Iie. chokoreeto o tabete wa ikemasen

 

More Examples of もいいですか

このほんよんもいいですか
kono hon o yonde mo ii desu ka
(Can I read this book?)
kono hon o yonde mo ii desu ka  
   
このケーキたべもいいですか
kono keeki o tabete mo ii desu ka
(Can I eat this cake?)
kono keeki o tabete mo ii desu ka
みずもらってもいいですか
mizu o moratte mo ii desu ka
(May I have some water?)
mizu o moratte mo ii desu ka
はいってもいいですか
Haitte mo ii desuka
(Can I come in?)
Haitte mo ii desuka
このほんりてもいい
Kono hon, karite mo ii
(Can I borrow this book?)
Kono hon, karite mo ii
となりすわってもいいですか
Tonari ni suwatte mo ii desu ka
(May I sit next to you?)
Tonari ni suwatte mo ii desu ka
まどけてもいいですか
Mado o akete mo ii desu ka
(May I open the window?)
Mado o akete mo ii desu ka
質問しつもんしてもいいですか
Shitsumon shite mo ii desu ka
(May I ask you a question?)
Shitsumon shite mo ii desu ka
このいすにすわってもいいですか
Kono isu ni suwatte mo ii desu ka
(May I sit on this chair?)
Kono isu ni suwatte mo ii desu ka
Practice this grammar point along with many others in a private lesson:
Denying Permission: TE WA ikemasen
Expressing To and From in Japanese: MADE and KARA Japanese Grammar Index Denying Permission: TE WA ikemasen