Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top


i know what this means.. but what is the origin of しなさい ?

Does it come from する (to do verb) ??

Is it short form of something? or what?

share|improve this question
i do know it. You're wrong! i checked - the negative plain (present) form conjugation of する is しない (shinai) japaneseverbconjugator.com/Suru.asp – DrStrangeLove Sep 7 '13 at 13:09
Wow, I don't know what I was thinking. Sorry about that! I'll explain what it is in an answer... – Ataraxia Sep 7 '13 at 13:10
Note that the imperative form of なさる, namely なさい which you are talking about, is irregular. Its regular imperative form, なされ, is theoretically possible, but it sounds archaic or colloquial. – Pteromys Sep 9 '13 at 14:53
up vote 6 down vote accepted

しなさい is a verb conjugation that turns the verb する into a command (imperative form). There are a number of imperative forms, but this one in particular gives the nuance of "talking down" or giving advice that you feel is helpful to the listener (but keep in mind, it carries the connotation that you know better than the listener). This is generally how a parent would speak to his or her child, or a teacher would talk to students.

If you're not sure whether or not it's appropriate to use in a given situation, imagine saying it in English with the phrase "You had better". e.g:

(You had better) study.

(You had better) talk quietly in the library.

share|improve this answer
I understood the question to be about the etymology of the form なさい (as derived from the verb なさる), not about its usage. – Earthliŋ Sep 7 '13 at 13:26
@DrStrangeLove Were you looking for an explanation on its usage, or its etymology? – Ataraxia Sep 7 '13 at 14:42
actually both.. :) but i'll accept your answer anyway!) – DrStrangeLove Sep 7 '13 at 14:48

The ーし part comes from する, indeed. It is the infinitive form, or what some grammarians like Seiichi Makino call the "masu stem": the form of the verb that takes -ます.

する → し → します

なさい is the imperative form of なさる, which is a honorific word which means the same as する.

Infinitives combine with なさい to form firm, but polite orders.

For instance, telling children to sit down:

   座る → 座り(ます) → 座りなさい (すわりなさい)

Or encourage them to eat:

   食べる → 食べます → 食べなさい

The し arises when the verb is any one of those formed by -する, or anything else whose masu form ends in し. For instance, 押す → 押し(ます)


Here, definitely there is no しなさい as a unit; since 押し is a unit!

You have probably heard しなさい by itself, though (when し is from する):

   あなたも、そうしなさい。 (You too, do the same!)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.