This question comes from observing a game show called ガキの使いやあらへんで ("instant miso soup" episode), 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 pool of products, and they have to declare whether it is, or is not the same as the one given to them initially before being allowed to try another one.

When he declares "is not" (at 6:05), ではございません is used.
When he declares "is" (at 9:07), です is used.

(The other participants also similarly use ではございません and です)

By symmetry, I expected でございます to be used for "is". The symmetry I have in mind is:

ではございません ← ではありません ← ではない = だ → です・であります → でございます

It seems incongruent to me, that is to say that the use of ではございません implies the use of でございます but です is used instead.

Why is です used instead of でございます as expected from the above symmetry? Or if I may ask from the other direction, why ではございません instead of ではありません ?

My conclusion is that either my symmetry is flawed, or the social context of "declaring is" and "declaring is not" is different enough so we cannot compare using symmetry.

  • 3
    – user1016
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


It sounds to me like it's just an idiosyncrasy of this particular game show. Sometimes, using the very formal form elicits a certain charming feeling, or perhaps sarcastic formality (I am not Japanese so am still unsure of all the nuances of the formal form).

So in this case, I would think the "it is" would convey plainly stating the fact (a straight です) and the "is not" would be using a more theatrical (?) or interesting way to say the negative (でございません). This is my theory based on my albeit limited experience with the two forms in real life settings and watching Japanese TV.

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