From social politeness ("please", "thank you", etc) to the technical Japanese grammatical concepts of honorifics and respectful and humble forms known as "keigo".

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
1answer
418 views

Was desu and masu originally geisha-speak?

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo (The Japanese language the Japanese people don't know) seems to be claiming, at around 6:20 of this YouTube clip of language-specific portions of episode 4 of the show, ...
6
votes
1answer
367 views

“If I may ask a question, …”

Our teacher taught us to ask for the permission to ask a question by saying「質問してもいいですか。」. Now I'm writing her an email, and would like to say something along the lines of "If I may ask a question, ...
6
votes
1answer
175 views

referring to children: 子, 子供, or お子さん?

This is an issue that came up with my host family quite often. I have never been quite clear on which to use. In particular, 子 seems somewhat rude (much to the same effect as 男 or 女). On the other ...
6
votes
2answers
990 views

Is it natural to call elderly men ojiisan?

Is ojiisan an idiomatic word choice for a chronologically gifted man, akin to obaasan for elderly women? For example, when giving your seat to them on the train.
6
votes
1answer
584 views

When asking for holidays, should I be more polite than usual?

I saw an colleague's email asking for a few days of vacation, and I was surprised by the ultra-polite level. This colleague is usually on relatively casual terms with the boss, so it was quite ...
6
votes
1answer
365 views

Difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います, 頂けませんか, and 頂きたいんですけども

I've recently started using the expression 頂ければと思います, but I'm not 100% sure about its precise nuance. Is there any difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います 頂けませんか 頂きたいんですけども? To my non-native ear, ...
5
votes
2answers
671 views

How do you say “I don't want to fail” in Japanese? The formal form of it?

I'm asking how do you say something like "I don't want to fail" in Japanese. Yes, in anime they say something like "makenai". But I want to say or write it like an actual Japanese sentence in the ...
5
votes
4answers
350 views

How to answer -だね question?

So I've come to learn that something + だね means something along the lines of "Is it __?" with an expected yes answer. I received this kind of comment as a response to a photo I posted on the internet. ...
5
votes
1answer
286 views

How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
5
votes
2answers
310 views

Difference in word use: 父親 母親 両親 父母

I would like to ask about the following words: 父親【ちちおや】 and 母親【ははおや】. They refer to father and mother, right? But why do they exist? When do we use them instead of お父【とう】さん and お母【かあ】さん? I have a ...
5
votes
1answer
114 views

Is 拝見いたしました an example of 二重敬語?

二重敬語 is presumably considered bad style (or simply incorrect). I hear/read 拝見いたしました all the time. Is it an example of 二重敬語? I understood 二重敬語 to be a little more complex than "used a polite form ...
5
votes
1answer
163 views

Is the regular form of verbs with irregular polite/honorific forms still grammatical?

Hi all I was wondering for verbs with irregular polite/honorific forms, is the regular form still used/grammatical ? For example, the humble form of 借りる is 拝借する. But would お借りする be acceptable ? ...
5
votes
1answer
132 views

ご無沙汰いたしました — OK for electronic communications?

In a recent comment exchange on ELU.SE, a Japanese man (my senior in years, and a "guest" in the forum whose questions I had answered regularly for some time, but not much lately as I have been ...
5
votes
2answers
148 views

Dropping ーさん when referring to someone humbly with 謙譲語

Why aren't we referring to Yamada as Yamada-san in the following sentences taken from the answer to a recent question (which took them from site at: http://www.e-hoki.com/column/current/68.html) ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Polite way of asking if someone's received an email

What's a polite way of asking in an email if you've received a previous email? In my case, "polite" means "I'm emailing the tourism information staff of a place that mainly deals with domestic ...
4
votes
2answers
192 views

Choice of さしあげる in お電話さしあげる

I'm a bit confused by the usage of さしあげる in this sentence from Kanji in Context: ただ今、来客中ですので、後ほどこちらからお電話さしあげます。 We have a guest at the moment, so we'll call you later. To me, お電話いたします or even ...
4
votes
1answer
107 views

Questions about `〜はる` 敬語

One thing I've never fully gotten a grasp on is the 〜はる form of "敬語", and I have some questions about it. Is it official 敬語 recognized by the 文部省, or is it just more of a regionally accepted ...
4
votes
2answers
540 views

Does anyone know which おり this is?

彼女は表情が生き生きとしておりとてもかわいい。 was translated awkwardly on ALC as She is very pretty for the liveliness of her expression. Which おり is this? I think I know it from the polite しております but is it here ...
4
votes
2answers
306 views

In customer settings, is it ok to ask for keigo to be repeated in more “normal” Japanese?

In the context of restaurants, convenience stores and similar situations, is it ok for a customer to ask for something that was said in keigo (or in manual keigo) to be repeated in more "normal" ...
4
votes
1answer
226 views

Making a sentence that ends in なかった polite

What are the different ways to make a sentence that ends in なかった polite?
4
votes
1answer
250 views

When should the polite form of 〜たり be used?

I've noticed that I don't see 〜ましたり used very often, but it does seem to be an accepted form. I believe this form can be broken down like this: 動詞{どうし}の連用形{れんようけい}+「ます」の連用形{れんようけい}+「たり」 My ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

When and where did 丁寧語 emerge?

I've been reading some old text recently and I find that everybody seems to use plain forms even in polite contexts (like proclamations from the Emperor). When did the modern ます and です come from? I ...
4
votes
1answer
130 views

Difference between 「来ませんでした」and「来なかったです」 [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません? Both have the same meaning ("did not come") and according to my Japanese co-workers both are acceptable while they can't define the ...
3
votes
3answers
692 views

When to use ご返事 and お返事?

Here is a discussion about whether to use ご返事 and お返事, but there seems to be diverging opinions: ご返事: ご返事 is 謙譲語 (according to No.1) ご返事 is seldom used for 尊敬語 (according to No.5) ご返事 is for 謙譲語 ...
3
votes
2answers
349 views

Is こんばんは too formal for everyday conversation?

When giving a talk on Japanese, How to talk like a ge1sha, I made a terrible mistake: I invited someone who knew something about the language along. The only times he heckled me was when he reckoned ...
3
votes
3answers
971 views

How to say “no thank you, I don't want / need it”?

Sometimes I am offered something but because I'm just a beginner I don't know what verb they used. I know the proper way to say "no" is to answer with the negative form of the verb the other person ...
3
votes
2answers
236 views

How to refuse an invitation with a specific reason?

It is commonly taught that the polite way to refuse an invitation is "ちょっと。。。" However, how do you refuse an invitation, while giving a reason? For example, would it still be considered polite to say ...
3
votes
1answer
227 views

When speaking with client, how to say “I will tell my coworker”

I have found this in a phone usage manual (電話対応マニュアル) written by a Japanese person: かしこまりました。必ず田中に申し伝えます。それでは失礼いたします。 (speaking to customer over the phone) Understood. I will tell Tanaka (my ...
3
votes
1answer
283 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a peer?

This is probably related to How would I respectfully disagree with a superior? however the context is a tech forum where the thread starter is asking for someone technically advanced to help, and the ...
3
votes
2answers
338 views

With whom to use different honorific forms? 丁寧語より尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語

With whom is it considered proper to use 尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語 instead of 丁寧語? I mean saying おいでになります・伺います・参ります instead of 行きます. The often given example is for a service-person speaking with a customer, but ...
3
votes
1answer
264 views

Polite speech and うち よそ

I can't understand the difference between うち and よそ. I learned that they are used in polite speech, for example: ╔════════╦═════════╦═════════════╗ ║ ║ うち ║ よそ ║ ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

Adding でしょうか to ます to further emphasize doubt and politeness?

Let's use できる as an example. できる (I) can do (it)/possible (action/event). できるか? Can do?/Possible? できますか? Can do?/Possible? (polite) Believe it or not, できますか? still sounds too direct to me. Now ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

Politeness level congruency

This question comes from observing a game show, where the participants have to match a product to the one they consume while blindfolded. They are only allowed to try one product at a time from the ...
2
votes
4answers
837 views

Is telling a superior, “電子メールを見てくださいました,” correct?

Imagine wanting to tell a superior something along the lines of, "I saw/read/received your e-mail." In Japanese, there's sometimes something with using the te form along with words like くださる and もらう ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
2
votes
1answer
459 views

List of suppletive honorific and humble forms

Is there a reference that lists words whose honorific and/or humble forms are suppletive? For nouns, I am supposing that 父親, 父, and お父さん are different forms of a single noun differing only with ...
2
votes
2answers
398 views

General rules in negative adjectives in superpolite form

I have trouble trying to find this specific grammar in text books. I have a negative adjective in polite form: 寒くないです I want to use the superpolite form: 寒くないございます That seems right, but I have ...
2
votes
0answers
202 views

How important is gendered language in reality? [closed]

Many people say that gendered language is especially important in Japanese. To a point, I can understand this, but only to a certain distance. For example, if I (Fe/male) were to say 'Wow, that show ...
1
vote
1answer
312 views

Japanese small-talk [closed]

As long as the conversation I'm having, follows the chapters in Genki I & II I'm sort of OK but as soon as I try to engage in some small-talk I'm lost! Sentences like ロバートさんは, どんなスポーツが好きですか ...
0
votes
0answers
41 views

What is the Origin of です? [duplicate]

Where does です come from? I tried reading the kotobank article, but I couldn't decipher most of it, is it a contraction, or is it it's own word? I thought it was a contraction of でございます。