I have found this in a phone usage manual (電話対応マニュアル) written by a Japanese person:


(speaking to customer over the phone) Understood. I will tell Tanaka (my colleague). Goodbye.

What do you think about the use of 申し伝える here?

It feels unnatural to use humble language (謙譲語) when referring to Tanaka, who is within my company.
Does it depend on Tanaka's position relative to me?

Is there anything better I could use instead?

  • Do you use that over お伝えいたします or is that the answer you're looking for?
    – ssb
    Mar 5, 2013 at 6:57
  • 4
    – user1016
    Mar 5, 2013 at 9:21
  • Goes to show how bad I still am at keigo, sorry.
    – ssb
    Mar 5, 2013 at 11:23
  • @ssb 敬語は日本語話者にも難しいですし、大人・社会人でもしょっちゅう間違えて使ってます。(って私も人のこと言えませんけど)
    – user1016
    Mar 5, 2013 at 14:53
  • 2
    @istrasci 聖書みたい・・・^^
    – user1016
    Mar 5, 2013 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


申し伝えます is used when you are telling a customer, your boss or someone else above you (目上の人) that you will let your coworker know about something.

Does it depend on Tanaka's position relative to me?

Yes, if (s)he is of the same or lower rank then you, then 申し伝えます is correct, if (s)he is of higher rank than you, than 申し上げる would be correct. However, as chocolate points out, if you talk to someone outside of our company (a customer, etc.), you use 申し伝えます because they are above everyone in your company.


お伝えする is showing respect towards the person you are giving the message to. In your example 田中さん is a coworker (自分の身内), hence using お伝えします here would be wrong.

  • 1
    When you're talking to your client, you don't use (うちの人に)申し上げる even if the うちの人 is of higher rank than you. You say「(課長・部長・社長に)申し伝えます。」cos the client is still higher than your 社長.
    – user1016
    Mar 5, 2013 at 9:37
  • @Chocolate: Yeah, I only talked about within the company, I added a bit reflecting your comment. Thank you.
    – Jesse Good
    Mar 5, 2013 at 9:39
  • @JesseGood: Regarding your last sentence, (1) aren't you showing respect to the customer? You are passing me msg on to Tanaka for him (similar to お荷物をお持ちしましょうか)? The answer seems to be no but there is some nuance missing here. (2) What would one say if Tanaka was junior to the msg taker?
    – Tim
    Mar 5, 2013 at 12:07
  • (1) The お伝えする is intended to show respect towards who you are giving the message to, since you are passing the message to a coworker it would be awkward since the customer should be given more respect than your coworker. (2) You would still use 申し伝える when talking to a customer, and if you are talking to a coworker, you can simply use 伝える.
    – Jesse Good
    Mar 5, 2013 at 21:29

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