I am told that ご連絡します for “I will contact you“ is not more polite than 連絡します but simply wrong because the honorific ご should qualify actions done by the interlocutor, not by myself. To make it polite I must use 謙譲語 and say 連絡いたしますinstead. This makes perfect sense to me, but wouldn’t it also apply to お願いします, where the お is honorific?


I would say what you were told is partly correct but partly wrong. You should use a 謙譲語 verb いたします in business settings. But you can safely add ご/お to a 連絡 from yourself. Saying ご連絡いたします is perfectly fine.

ご/お as a prefix often forms a 尊敬語, but it sometimes forms a mere 美化語, too. ご連絡 is not a 尊敬語 but a 美化語, and you can safely use 美化語 to refer to things belonging to yourself.

For example, no one thinks you are paying respect to yourself if you said お尻が痛い or お腹が痛い. However you should not say お耳が痛い or お顔が痛い because these are 尊敬語.

Likewise, saying お願いします is perfectly fine, and it's polite enough when you speak to your colleagues. But you should say お願いいたします when you have to be more respectful.

See my previous answer for details: can 美化語{びかご} create implied subjects?

EDIT: Something like ご連絡を差し上げるのが遅くなり申し訳ありません is also perfectly fine. As Chocolate's links suggest, お/ご is commonly used in humble expressions, too. See this chiebukuro question, too.

  • Thinking about お尻・お腹 vs. お耳・お顔, it's quite interesting the words that have lexicalized (become "everyday" 美化語【びかご】 or 丁寧語【ていねいご】), and those that remain "special" (where adding the prefix creates a 尊敬語【そんけいご】). Probably something to do with frequency of use, I'd imagine. – Eiríkr Útlendi Feb 20 '20 at 17:28

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