Why is なさい used in ごめんなさい when it is usually used as a command form?

  • 4
    It's ごめんなさい (go-men + nasai), so you're missing an n.
    – user1478
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


免 is a somewhat old word meaning 'forgiveness'. There is a polite command form that goes お・ご~なさい, such as in おいでなさい or ご覧なさい. If you apply this to 免, you get ご免なさい, literally 'please forgive me'. This command form is also seen in おやすみなさい and おかえりなさい.


Nothing at all's answer is fine the basics, but it could be misleading depending on how much Japanese you are planning to learn.

ご/おV-stemなさい is a polite command conjugation of the verb なさる.

なさる is the keigo equivalent of する (meaning it is respectful). Conversely, いたす is the self-humbling form.

So by using なさる you express respect for the person you are talking to and by using ご/おV-stemください you express it politely.

免ずる means to forgive and this is then conjugated to mean "please forgive me" by using a polite and respectful command conjugation.

  • The following answer confirms it, なさる is the keigo verson of する, なさい is the imperative version of なさる, ご is a polite prefix, so ご免なさい is the polite imperative version of 免する: 免する -> (keigo) 免なさる -> (imperative) 免なさい -> (polite) ご免なさい. But what does ください have to do with it?
    – yk7
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 4:21
  • Actually there may be be an alternative "route": 免する -> (imperative) 免しろ -> (keigo) 免なさい...
    – yk7
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 4:55

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