I was doing an exercise in which you are supposed to change questions into honorific expressions (Genki II second ed, pg. 175 Ex. C.9.) when I stumbled upon a question which had an answer that seems contrary to the way grammar was explained previously:

  • More precisely, けっこんしていますか was changed to けっこんしていらっしゃいますか.

However, according to the grammar section of the book (as well as A Dictionary Of Basic Japanese Grammar):

"honorific verbs generally take priority over ていらっしゃいます".

I was wondering why in this situation the honorific verb なさる doesn't take priority (giving けっこんなさっていますか as an answer). What's more, if you were to type both answers into google.co.jp, the ていらっしゃいます version has 200 000 hits to 5000 of けっこんなさっていますか.

  • なさる is not "SOME honorific verbs" the book says. And "generally" doesn't mean "always". – user4092 Mar 8 '16 at 11:36
  • @user4092 I realise that, that's why I asked Why in this situation the verb takes priority, (as in is there a reason for this choice, and it being different) – Tribski Mar 10 '16 at 21:26
  • The book doesn't say "honorific verbs generally take priority over ていらっしゃいます" but "SOME honorific verbs ...". – user4092 Mar 11 '16 at 4:20
  • @user4092 I have just double checked in the book, and yes in the 2nd edition (2011), 15th printing (2014) It says "generally" – Tribski Mar 11 '16 at 13:45
  • The point is, It says "some", and なさる is not included in "some" in the first place because both なさる and していらっしゃる are non-idiomatic. – user4092 Mar 13 '16 at 4:27

“結婚していますか” is a forthright expression for asking whether someone is married or not. This is alright when you say “彼(彼女)は結婚していますか,” refering to the third party, but it’s impolite and blunt if you asked “あなたは結婚していますか” in face to the person whom you are not so familiar with.

The formal way of asking of “Are you married” will be either “(あなたは)結婚されていますか?” or ”結婚なさっていらっしゃいますか?” Both “…されて” and “….なさって” are honorific verbs, and I don’t find any difference of meaning and degree in the spectrum of politeness between ”結婚されていますか?” and ”結婚なさっていらっしゃいますか?, though the reduplication of the formal expression of the latter (なさって + いらっしゃる) sounds a bit redundant to me.

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  • So, are you saying 結婚されていますか and 結婚なさっていらっしゃいますか are acceptable, but 結婚していらっしゃいますか and 結婚なさっていますか are NOT acceptable? – Chocolate Mar 11 '16 at 7:52
  • I think 結婚されていますか?and 結婚なさっていますか?are "regular" way of asking the counterpart's marital status. I said '結婚なさっていらっしゃいますか?' sounds sticky because of redundant duplication of honorific words (なさって + いらっしゃる). – Yoichi Oishi Mar 11 '16 at 8:32
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    この質問者の質問は、「結婚していらっしゃいますか」と「結婚なさっていますか」の二つの文型についてのものでしたので。。。具体的に言うと、『「結婚していますか」の尊敬語は「結婚なさっていますか」だと思ったら、問題集の解答が「結婚していらっしゃいますか」になっているのはどうしてですか?』『"尊敬動詞は「ていらっしゃいます」より優先"という規則に「なさる」は当てはまらないのはなぜですか?』といったことを聞いていらっしゃるようですので・・・ – Chocolate Mar 11 '16 at 8:56
  • @choco Originally I accepted Yoichis answer because it seemed to say how I should answer the question from the textbook, but after reading choco comment I remembered that this was not what I was confused about. – Tribski Mar 11 '16 at 13:48


Both sound alright to me. I think you can also say


honorific verbs generally take priority over ていらっしゃいます".
I was wondering why in this situation the honorific verb なさる doesn't take priority

I think by "honorific verbs" they are referring to verbs such as 召し上がる, おっしゃる, ご覧になる, ご存じだ, おいでになる, お休みになる, etc. So, for example:

食べています。 -> 召し上がっています。
言っています。 -> おっしゃっています。
見ています。 -> ご覧になっています。
知っています。 -> ご存知です。

take priority over


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  • 1
    I'd recommend ご結婚はされていますか? – nodakai Mar 13 '16 at 9:24

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