Japanese grammar has a rich subset of grammatical forms named 敬語 ("keigo", formal language or respect's language).

The rules allowing to transform a normal verb into a keigo verb are complex and I'm stuck with a difference I found here on a well-documented site.

For each verb it seems that there are TWO ways to create infinitive keigo forms :

  • o either お + [い-stem] & に なる
  • o either お + [い-stem] & なさる

By example : 変える (kaeru) becomes either お変えになる either お変えなさる.

I don't understand if the difference between these two forms is merely formal (like in French : je m'assois, je m'assieds) or if these two verbal forms are used in different linguistic contexts.

  • 1
    Uhm... This looks more like a question for Japanese SE. You're asking more about grammar/usage than something linguistics related. I will migrate it to their site.
    – Alenanno
    Jan 22, 2014 at 22:29
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    に なる is the more common form, I think. なさる is usually used as the honorific form of する.
    – dainichi
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:17
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    Salut! Japonais est ma langue maternelle. Dans la vraie vie, on utilise rarement la seconde forme avec なさる, car il est un peu archaïque. On pourrait l'entendre plus souvent dans la fiction. Sémantiquement, les deux formes ont la même signification.
    – user4032
    Jan 23, 2014 at 0:30
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    @TokyoNagoya それもコメでなく回答欄に、是非!
    – user1016
    Jan 23, 2014 at 6:46
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    @Chocolate 回答欄は堪忍してえなぁ、目立ってまうやん。
    – user4032
    Jan 23, 2014 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


There are several "categories" within keigo, depending on the type of meaning that you want to convey: 尊敬語, 謙譲語, 丁寧語 and 美化語.

The 2 forms you ask about here, お(ご)〜になる and お(ご)〜なさる both are 尊敬語 forms, so they serve the same purpose and have the same function in politeness (i.e. as 尊敬語 they serve to "elevate" the grammatical subject of the sentence). So, basically, no difference.

That being said, お〜なさる, especially used with a 連用形 (い-stem), may sound slightly more old-fashioned and is more likely to be used by older people, while お(ご)〜になる may be more common nowadays (besides some almost idiomatic usage cases such お帰りなさい), though both are correct and used.

From the 大辞林:


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    Both are widely used where?
    – user4032
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:45
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    Both are widely (= commonly) used within keigo usage. Anyway I removed it, hope this clarifies it for you.
    – desseim
    Jan 23, 2014 at 0:34

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