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In 謙譲語 the addition of honorific to a direct object depends on who owns it:

(先生に)本をさしあげます。| I will give teacher my book

(先生の)ご本をお借りします。|I shall borrow teacher's book

(先生を)会場へご案内します。| I will show teacher to the meeting place

There are some words that always take an honorific (examples discussed in other questions include お茶 and お手洗い)but 礼 is not one of them. Why are "my"thanks honorific but not my book?

(I imagine that in Japanese they are not "my" thanks, or their is a difference between tangible/intangible objects/gestures, but these are guesses.)

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They are indeed "my" thanks, but お serves more functions than just distinguishing between grammatical person. It's often just a word beautifier. Here's a good place to start: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keigo#Honorific_prefixes – Billy Sep 24 '12 at 12:18
@Bily: Thanks I've tightened up the question. – Tim Sep 24 '12 at 12:44
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the お is simply there to make it sound more polite and is more a part of 丁寧語 than a part of 謙譲語. I would consider the classification of your third example as follows.

口語体 案内するよ。
文語体 案内します。
丁寧語 ご案内します。
謙譲語 ご案内致します

with increasing level of politeness.


would be another example of you "giving" something and adding a polite お or ご.

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Re: 丁寧語=ご案内します, my reference is 完全文法N3 p53 divides 謙譲語 into "Verb forms used to describe the speaker's behaviour when it involves/affects a superior" (including my example w/します)and "Verb forms used to describe the speaker's own behaviour politely or modestly" (and has a new example with 致します). – Tim Sep 24 '12 at 17:26

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