I would say that 95% of the time, I can express what I would like to express in Japanese. However, most of the time this sounds unnatural, or let’s say, I am not sure if there is a better option. Recently I started to overthink this…
Let’s start easy: I would like to ask you if I could borrow your pencil.
Inside my brain:
- 鉛筆 = pencil; 借りる = borrow; partical = を and か -> 鉛筆を借りますか?
- Wait, we can do this more polite(?): 鉛筆を借りてもいいですか？
- Wait again, should I use the potential form? Probably not, because I do not want to know if you are able to do so.
- Ahhh wait. There was this topic with 借りる vs 貸す. Is 鉛筆を貸してください the best option? Why is my brain always thinking about the potential form in this context… Is it 鉛筆を貸せませんか?
I do not intend to discuss this example sentence further. (But feel free if you want to)
My question is:
What do you do in such situations? Just say what comes to your mind? How do you learn what is the best option? I can not ask my opponent after every sentence if this was the best option and remember his or her answer Also I can not just copy his/her way of speaking if he or she is a higher up, etc.
Most of the time I do not care, but especially, when I have to communicate with superiors I am more worried that I fuck up a whole conversation because I say something rude, or they have problems to understand what I have in mind. Should I use bad Keigo with probably hundred of mistakes (鉛筆を貸していただけますか) or stick to stuff I think I know? Just do not care?
How do you find out, what would have been appropriate to say/write/…?