Grammar Info
N5 Lesson 9: 3/13

ませんか
Won't you, Would you not (with me)?

Structure
Casual
Formal
Verb[ない] +
Verb[ます]+ ません +
Details
Part of Speech Expression
Word Type Sentence Ending Particle
Register Polite
品詞 表現
単語の種類 終助詞
使用域 敬語
Information
ませんか (or ないか more casually) is an expression that is used after verbs as an invitation. It basically translates to ‘won’t you do (A) with me?’.
This expression is a little bit different to ましょうか, in that it sounds directly like in invitation to do (A). ましょうか tends to sound more like a suggestion that (A) should be done.
  • 明日(あした)温泉(おんせん)行(い)きませんか
    Won't you go to the onsen with me tomorrow? (Polite)
  • 来週(らいしゅう)釣(つ)り行(い)かないか
    Won't you go fishing with me next week? (Casual)
It is recommended to use the ませんか version, as ないか would be a bit too casual to use with someone that you are not very close with (and is also technically not correct Japanese).
To make it clearer that the speaker wants to do (A) ‘with’ someone, expressions like 一緒(いっしょ) ‘together’ are often added, for clarification.
  • 一緒(いっしょ)お祭(まつ)りへ行(い)きませんか
    Won't you go to the festival with me?
To examine the difference between ましょうか and ませんか, let’s have a look at how the nuance changes in the same type of sentence.
  • ラーメン食(た)べに行(い)きましょうか
    Shall we go eat ramen?
  • ラーメン食べに行(い)きませんか
    Won't you go eat ramen with me?
Here, ませんか will come across as an invitation due to the fact that you are asking the person if they ‘wouldn’t mind doing (A)’ with you. This is the main reason that it is considered a more polite option when inviting someone to do something, than ましょうか.
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寿司(すし)食(た)べに行(い)きませんか
Won’t you go eat sushi (with me)?
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サッカーませんか
Won’t you play soccer (with me)?
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一緒(いっしょ)に文法(ぶんぽう)勉強(べんきょう)ませんか
Won’t you study grammar with me?
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Transparent Language
いいね Nihongo
Books
Genki I
Page 62
みんなの日本語 I
Page 44 [CH 6]
Genki I 2nd Edition
Page 92
Marugoto Elementary 1 (A2) Rikai
Page 90