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I've started learning keigo and already having difficulty with it, with the same problem in both そんけいご and けんじょうご. In particular, I'm having trouble understanding the combination of the use of ~ていらっしゃる and お+verb stem+になる, and ~ておる and お+verb stem+にする.

So what example if you had the question and you wanted to change it so that it involves そんけいご.

先生はどちらに住んでいますか。

Would you change it to: -> 先生はどちらに住んでいらっしゃいますか。 -> 先生はどちらにお住みになっていらっしゃいますか。 -> 先生はどちらにお住みになっていますか。

I've seen a combination of all three usages (e.g. 疲れていらっしゃいます、 お教えになっていらっしゃいます and お教えになっています), but I can't find any clear explanation of when one is preferred over the others. Or are they are equivalent?

Same problem applies to ~ておる and お+verb stem+にする, though I'd assume the explanation and reasoning behind it would be the same as そんけいご.

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    @ssb Among us native speakers, お住まいはどちらですか/どちらでしょうか would be far more common. – l'électeur Nov 20 '13 at 8:45
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    Consider me corrected, then, although I'm surprised that educational materials seem to leave out the passive honorific – ssb Nov 20 '13 at 8:58
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    お + verb stem + になっていらっしゃる sounds like 二重敬語 to me. – istrasci Nov 20 '13 at 17:00
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    @istrasci I think it's 敬語連結, so it's okay. – snailcar Nov 20 '13 at 19:24
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    And then there's どちらにお住みですか/どちらにお住まいですか, where the verb doesn't even look like a verb anymore :o :o – dainichi Nov 25 '13 at 5:59
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Uses of ~ていらっしゃる, お+verb-stem+になる, ~ておる and お+verb stem+にする.

〜ていっらしゃる and お+verb-stem+になる are used to show respect towards another person.

Before we can get into the use of ~ていっらしゃる、we must know the special honorific verbs first.

Special Honorific Verbs and Their Conjugations

  1. いる、行く、来る change to いっらしゃる (the honorific verb) or いっらしゃいます (its irregular conjugation)。
  2. 見る changes to ご覧になる。
  3. 言う changes to おっしゃる (the honorific verb) or おっしゃいます (its irregular conjugation)。
  4. する changes to なさる (the honorific verb) or なさいます (its irregular conjugation)。
  5. 食べる and 飲む change to 召し上がる。
  6. くれる changes to くださる (the honorific verb) or くださいます (its irregular conjugation)。
  7. 寝る changes to お休みになる。
  8. And finally, ~ている changes to ~ていっらしゃる (the honorific verb) or ~ていっらしゃいます (its irregular conjugation)。

~ていらっしゃる

When you lack a special honorific verb (as all shown above), we use ~ていっらしゃる、if the original action was using ~ている.

Example: 先生はテープを聞いていっらしゃいます。The teacher is listening to the tapes.

In most other cases, we use:

お + verb stem + に + なる

先生はお見えになりますか。 Have you seen the teacher?

The original sentence did not use ~ている, so we do not use ~ていっらしゃる。

Now we head into Extra Modest Expressions.

~ておる

〜ておる is the extra-modest form of 〜ている、and is to be used on one's own actions. It is almost always used in the long form, 〜ております、because the purpose of it is to be polite towards the person you are talking to.

Extra Modest Expressions

The same rule applies from ~ていっらしゃる、you use 〜ておる on your own actions that you would normally use 〜ている on, and are also not any of the extra modest verbs.

Finally, お+verb stem+にする.

As said by Genki II Book: "When you do something out of respect for somebody, you can sometimes describe your action using a verb in the humble pattern "お+verb stem+にする". (Not all verbs are used this way, so you may only want to use the ones you have actually heard being used.)

Example: 私は昨日先生にお会いしました。I (humbly) met my professor yesterday.

For the particular sentence you're asking for above, it makes sense to follow @l'électeur comment.

お住まいはどちらですか/どちらでしょうか。

Where do you live? (Which is the place you live?) (to teacher)

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    This "extra-modest expressions" table made my day. Wow. +1 from me, I wish I could +100 this. I never learned so much japanese in 60 seconds as I did by reading this table. Wow. – Pedro A Jul 31 '17 at 16:16
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I think the commenters are all right. There is a principle of communication containing four maxims that claims speakers and listeners are interested in four things: truthfulness, quantity, relevance, and clarity. Hence, the shortest (quantity) form that correctly expresses the necessary degree of respect (relevance) while not obscuring the meaning of the sentence (clarity) is typically the most pleasing one.

In descending order by those criteria, then:

  1. お住まいはどちらですか?
  2. どちらに住んでおられます? (arguably more intimate with passive)
  3. どちらにすんでいらっしゃいます?

Don't worry about getting too complicated; consistent competency will satisfy those maxims more fully and will look and sound much better than suddenly good discursive performance, followed by a string of faux pas :)

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