I found a chart listing the plain, polite, honorific, and humble forms of verbs. The chart listed だ →です→でいらっしゃる→でござる with the note “animate only.” I know that だ and です can be used for inanimate references. Is it true that でいらっしゃる and でござる can be used only for animate references, or was the chart in error? (I know that だ/です is a copulative and not a true verb.) This question is not about いらっしゃる or ござる used independently, but でいらっしゃる and でござる used, respectively, as the honorific and humble forms of です.

1 Answer 1


「ござる」is simply a much politer version of ある. The copula です stems from the original copula である (ありまです), which is the verb ある combined with the particle で, so you can say でございます in place of any です, whether the reference is animate or not.

「いらっしゃる」is the respectful (尊敬語) form of 行く, 来る, and いる. Due to the nature of these verbs (especially いる) and the nature of 尊敬語, which is used to show respect to the subject of the sentence, I find it unlikely that いらっしゃる would ever be used with an inanimate reference.

  • Thank you. However, my question is not about using [いらっしゃる] with reference to something inanimate, but whether [でいらっしゃる] can be.
    – NattoYum
    Jun 29, 2018 at 20:52
  • @NattoYum Yes, but by extension でいらっしゃる wouldn't either. As I mentioned, 尊敬語 verbs in general sound strange if you use them in reference to an inanimate object.
    – Blavius
    Jun 29, 2018 at 22:01
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    @NattoYum In addition to that you basically wouldn't use でいらっしゃる for "unintelligent lives" because they're usually not the target of respect. For example they wouldn't for your pet dog, unless they are luxury hotel staff and you are a VIP...or the dog speaks. Jun 30, 2018 at 9:51
  • I do not understand why honorific terms would not be used for inanimate objects. As just one example, imagine a group of history students sitting with their eminent mentor at a cafe when another student rushes in flourishing the mentor's latest award-winning book and says, "Look! It's sensei's new book." — 本がでいらっしゃいます。 My question is not whether でいらっしゃる and でござる would be used for inanimate references in general, but whether the chart I found online was correct when it said that these two copulæ are only for animate references.
    – NattoYum
    Jun 30, 2018 at 14:19
  • @NattoYum It makes sense to honor the author of the book because a person, but it is weird to honor the book itself. It would be like saying "Mr. book" in English.
    – Blavius
    Jun 30, 2018 at 15:46

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