I can't understand the difference between うち and よそ. I learned that they are used in polite speech, for example:

║        ║  うち    ║   よそ      ║
║ 言います║ 申します ║ おっしゃいます║
  • ?? What is うちよそ?Is it a grammatical term? ... I guess うち refers to '1st person pronouns' and よそ refers to '2nd and 3rd person pronouns'?? I'm not sure...Edit: Ah, うち refers to 謙譲語[けんじょうご/humble form] and よそ refers to 尊敬語[そんけいご/honorific form], right?
    – user1016
    May 31, 2012 at 6:10
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    Surely, you mean the うち・そと distinction...?
    – Zhen Lin
    May 31, 2012 at 7:16
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    @ZhenLin, You reminded me of 鬼は外, 福は内. (Sorry this might be quite irrelevant.)
    – user1016
    May 31, 2012 at 7:23
  • @Chocolate: I dont think it is a grammatical term and this is the reason i am asking the question. As i have mentioned, i looked it up myself before asking. ZhenLin: No, it is よそ - again, i did some research before asking. To the anonymous downvoter: I am all for feedback. Could be nice to know why is the downvote.
    – buskila
    May 31, 2012 at 10:25
  • @OlegLevy, Please try googling with keywords "身内 よそ様 敬語" , then you'll find many pages written about Japanese keigo. (They are all written in Japanese, though...)
    – user1016
    May 31, 2012 at 17:52

1 Answer 1


敬語[けいご/keigo] has three different forms: "丁寧語[ていねいご/the polite form]・尊敬語[そんけいご/the honorific form]・謙譲語[けんじょうご/the humble form]". 言う is the dictionary form. 言います is the polite form (丁寧語). 申す(usually used to say [EDIT:] "Someone in the speaker's in-group says") is the humble form (謙譲語) and 申します is the polite form of 申す. おっしゃる(used to say [EDIT:] "Someone to whom the speaker has to show his respect says") is the honorific form (尊敬語) and おっしゃいます is the polite form of おっしゃる. By the way, I've never heard うち・よそ used as grammatical terms...

  • It just occurred to me that うち might mean [身内]{みうち} and よそ might mean [よそ様]{よそさま}...? (Sorry if I'm off the point again!)
    – user1016
    May 31, 2012 at 7:45
  • I suspect it's 他所[よそ].
    – Amadan
    May 31, 2012 at 15:20
  • Dangit, [他所]{よそ} (had to look up formatting for ruby :P )
    – Amadan
    May 31, 2012 at 15:27
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    I do not know where the OP got the table from, but I assume that it is from some material for learning Japanese. And it seems that the author of the material chose the uncommon labels うち and よそ to avoid the technical terms 尊敬語 and 謙譲語 for whatever reasons (maybe because they sound too technical?). May 31, 2012 at 23:46
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    Sometimes 謙譲語 is used for he/she e.g. 私の妻が参ります. This is exactly why it is important to understand the うち/そと concept.
    – dainichi
    Jun 1, 2012 at 3:15

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