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~うございます - keigo い-adjectives

I still remember the introductory lecture of the first Japanese course I took in college, my sensei told the class that おはようございます does not mean "good morning" but it is actually derived from はやいです which simply means "it is early".

Some time later, I've been told that this honorific formation of i-adjectives is not restricted to はやい only, but can be applied to any i-adjectives. I've not been told how though.

I'm assuming that for any i-adjectives that end with X-ai, they become o-X-ou:

はやい → おはよう
たかい → おたこう

But what about adjectives that end with -ui, -ii etc? Turning them into -ou does not sound right. For example:

さむい → おさもう?
たのしい → おたのしょう?
おおきい → おおおこう?  [triple お]

What are the rules for turning i-adjectives into honorific form? And also, are this honorific still in use today and in what kind of scenarios?


1 Answer 1


These forms are archaic in Tokyo except for a few fixed expressions like おやようございます, but may be observed in Kyoto. You attach -u ございます to the adjective root. The polite prefix is optional. As you wondered, it is probably unnatural to attach for おおきい because of so may consecutive s.

  • [adjective root] + u gozaimasu

Depending on the final vowel of the adjective root, there is a sound change.

  • au → ou (→ oo)
    はようございます, たこうございます
  • iu → yuu
    たのしゅうございます, おおきゅうございます
  • Is the お prefix optional? What about おおい -> おおう?
    – Lukman
    Aug 11, 2011 at 13:53
  • @Lukman Attachhing to おおう is unnatural just like with おおきい.
    – user458
    Aug 11, 2011 at 13:56

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