I was reading about this phenomenon in a few places and saw, for instance, this table of transformations and substitutions for various verbs.

Is it only these common verbs which change, or do all verbs have a variant for the respectful and humble styles of speech?

I am aware other aspects of speech may change for honorific/humble style, but I am asking specifically about verbs.

As I understand it, all verbs have a polite form, but I am not sure about honorific and humble forms.

enter image description here

  • 2
    – chocolate
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 2:54
  • I am new to Japanese and cannot read that yet :( Sorry. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 2:54
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    おしゃいます in that table is a typo for おしゃいます. Is it from your textbook?
    – chocolate
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 2:56
  • Also isn't the humble form of 住む 住んでおります。 ?
    – virmaior
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 3:06
  • The image was taken from a random google result discussing the topic. cotoacademy.com/japanese-keigo I guess I would not be surprised if it was critically flawed, although it would serve as a good lesson to cross-check these things. At any rate that problem does not change the essence of my question. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


As a general rule, almost all verbs can be transformed into an honorific form, and many, but not all, can be transformed into a humble form*. The chart you pasted lists special/irregular forms. So, for verbs not listed in that chart, you can usually transform them into the basic/regular honorific/humble forms, like this:

Honorific forms:

  • 「お~~になる」 eg [待]{ま}つ → 待ちになる, 座{すわ}る → 座りになる, 送{おく}る → 送りになる
    (Use the continuative form/連用形 in ~~.)
  • 「~~れる・られる」 eg 待つ → 待たれる, 座る → 座られる, [出掛]{でか}ける → 出掛けられる
    (Use the imperfective form/未然形 in ~~. Use れる for godan verbs and られる for ichidan verbs.)

For (Sino compound noun +) する-verbs, you'd usually do like this:

  • 「ご~~になる」 eg [利用]{りよう}する → 利用になる, [到着]{とうちゃく}する → 到着になる
  • 「(ご)~~なさる」 eg [遠慮]{えんりょ}する → (ご)遠慮なさる, [結婚]{けっこん}する → (ご)結婚なさる
  • 「(ご)~~される)」 eg 到着する → (ご)到着される, 結婚する → (ご)結婚される 

(「~~れる・られる」「~~される」 forms are considered a little less respectful than 「お/ご~~になる」「~~なさる」 forms.)

For some verbs you could also use 「ご・お~~だ/です」, eg 待ち, [帰]{かえ}りです, [立腹]{りっぷく}, [到着]{とうちゃく}です, etc.

Humble forms:

  • 「お~~する」 eg 待つ → 待ちする, [呼]{よ}ぶ → 呼びする, 送る → 送りする
    (Use the continuative form/連用形 in ~~.)

For (Sino compound noun +) する-verbs:

  • 「ご~~する」 eg 連絡{れんらく}する → 連絡する, 案内{あんない}する → 案内する

You could also use 「お・ご~~致{いた}します」「お・ご~~[申]{もう}し[上]{あ}げる」 (these sound more formal / politer), eg 呼び致します, 連絡いたします, [慕]{した}い申し上げます, 案内申し上げます, etc.

*Basically, the verbs that don't directly affect/influence the other interlocutor or a third party can't be turned into a humble form, eg: わかる, [着]{き}る, [死]{し}ぬ, [出席]{しゅっせき}する, [参加]{さんか}する, etc. (おわかりする, お着する, お死にする, ご出席する, ご参加する sound incorrect/strange -- 出席いたします, 参加いたします would be fine, though.)

  • Would you kindly tell me if 寝る, and 眠る fall under the same category as 着る and such? Is this restriction (that certain verbs cannot be made humble) related to transitivity?
    – Yeti Ape
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 3:24
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    @Yeti Yeah.. 「お寝する」「お眠りする」 sound incorrect/unnatural... related to transitivity -- Not all transitive verbs can be turned into the humble form, eg 着る is transitive but you don't say お着する... and some intransitive verbs can be used in the humble form, eg お会いする、ご同行する...
    – chocolate
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 14:05

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