I'd like to know what is the suffix たもうた used in the example phrase 「 神の創りたもうた世界」. I've found several more occurrences of it and it seem to work like some honorific equivalent of くださる used in ceremonial speech when referring to divine activities, attached to the masu-stem of the verb. Am I correct?

While たもうた obviously is past tense, it doesn't seem to follow regular conjugation rules. My question is: what is the base verb form and which grammar rules (if any) were used to create this past form?

2 Answers 2


It comes from the Classical honorific verb 「[賜]{たま}ふ」, which means "to give (from one in a higher position to one in the lower)". The Modern counterpart is 「お[与]{あた}えになる」 or 「[下]{くだ}さる」. The 「ふ」 has become 「う」 over time as you probably know.

This verb can be used as an honorific subsidiary verb following another verb. The Modern counterparts are 「~~てくださる」、「お~~になる」, etc.

「[創]{つく}りたもうた」 = 「創る」 + 「たもうた」 = "to create" + "gracefully did so (as a subsidiary verb)"

This verb phrase is in the past tense (た at the end). Classical verbs are conjugated in the Classical way even when they appear in the Modern context for the authors' intended aesthetic reasons. It is not even possible to conjugate them in the Modern way. The pronunciation, however, is often changed to its modern way and, therefore, reflected in the kana. たまふた is Classical and たもうた is Modern. 

Thus, 「 [神]{かみ}の創りたもうた[世界]{せかい}」 means "the world which God (gracefully) created (for us)".

In the entirely "modern" Japanese, the phrase is equivalent to 「神のお創りになられた世界」or 「神の創ってくださった世界」 in meaning. That is if anyone is interested in the modern translation within Japanese.

  • 2
    Regarding your last line, why is れる appended to the 「お~になる」 construct? I thought doing so would create a 二重敬語? Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 16:12
  • You're right. When a honorific verb is conjugated by れる, it has to be 二重敬語, and it's of course grammatical.
    – user4092
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 3:16

It comes from the verb 給【たま】う via ウ音便. Other examples: 問【と】う → 問うた, しまう → しもうた, 言【い】う → 言【ゆ】うた. This is a feature of medieval Japanese and persists in western dialects of modern Japanese; in standard Japanese it is only found in fossilised forms.

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