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

7
votes
1answer
256 views

When is it appropriate to use [v] ないでくれ instead of [v] な?

Initially I wanted to compare the rudeness level of [v]ないでくれ。 and[v]な。 but since that may be a rather vague question: In what situation is it appropriate to use [v]ないでくれ。 but not [v]な。 ? In what ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
6
votes
2answers
542 views

Is it ok to use ~て下さりました instead of ~ていただきました?

Just to avoid repeating saying いただきました too much, can I occasionally switch it with 下さりました or 下さいました?
6
votes
2answers
373 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
478 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
496 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
452 views

How impolite is it to call a waitress お姉{ねえ}さん?

Were I in a situation where I want to get the attention of a waitress in a noisy restaurant, I kind of feel like calling-out: "お姉{ねえ}さん、すみませんが、ビールもう一本お願いできますか?". I think that I've seen this done in a ...
6
votes
1answer
202 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
1k 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
796 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
798 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
396 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
328 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
258 views

For verbs with irregular humble/honorific forms, are the regular forms still used?

There are verbs with irregular humble forms, e.g. the humble form of 借りる is 拝借する. For these verbs, are the "normal humble conjugations" still used, or considered grammatical? Would お借りする be ...
5
votes
1answer
131 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
2answers
180 views

Why do Japanese businessmen use 「さん」 even with うち names in meetings with foreigners

I noticed that many Japanese businessmen tend to address the colleagues they are traveling with, or even introduce themselves as ◯◯◯さん. This would clearly be a faux-pas in a Japanese-only meeting, yet ...
5
votes
1answer
134 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
158 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
2k 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
336 views

How would you say “if you don't mind my asking”?

This is something that is often said in English to politely ask a question while avoiding sounding overly intrusive. For example, What do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking? The ...
4
votes
2answers
212 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
125 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
612 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
323 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
421 views

Addressing strangers without knowing the name

How does one address a stranger in a casual conversation when name is unknown? For example, I had a conversation with an older Japanese lady and I wanted to compliment her on her English (but in ...
4
votes
1answer
211 views

The use of passive voice to describe the Emperor's activities

The Imperial Palace gardens were opened to the public recently to celebrate the Emperor's 80th birthday. Can someone confirm the use of the passive voice in the following sentence on the subject in ...
4
votes
1answer
301 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
238 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
134 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
259 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
189 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
135 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
441 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
866 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
3answers
3k 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
426 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
271 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
2answers
386 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
282 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
112 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
871 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
230 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
240 views

Usage and meaning of とのことです

I see this often in business emails, I guess it is not very important in terms of meaning but I couldn't find any post on stackexchange about it. What does とのことです add to a sentence? Here is the ...
2
votes
1answer
504 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
423 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
1answer
198 views

“Ungrammatical” 丁寧語 used by tour guides and museum narrators

I noticed on my trip to Japan that tour guides in museums etc use a very interesting type of language. It seems to be used almost exclusively by people in Osaka and Kyoto. There are two features that ...
2
votes
0answers
220 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
383 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
47 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。