If I understand this correctly, ありがとうございます is formed as follows. First, the adjective ありがたい is turned into the adverb ありがたく. Then, in ありがたく+ございます, ウ音便 takes place and ありがたく becomes ありがとう.

But in cases like this, what exactly is ございます? Is it a politer version of ある? If so, could one in theory form sentences in the form of "adjective連用形 + ある" like 高くある? And what does ある(ござる/ございます) mean in this context? It certainly makes no sense for ある mean "to exist/to have". Does it mean "to be"?

  • The question doesn't actually appear to be about the ウ音便 or about the joined adjective (ありがたい is only one example) at all, but simply seeking the meaning of ございます. Jul 14, 2023 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


ございます is basically just the masu-form of the verb ござる, which is a polite version of ある.

"There is a book here":

  • ここに本がある。 (plain)
  • ここに本があります。 (polite)
  • ここに本がござる。 (sounds like a samurai)
  • ここに本がございます。 (very polite and respectful)

These words behave like a copula (だ, "to be") in combination with で. I can say they no longer mean "to exist", but it's hard to explain why.

"This is a book.":

  • これは本である。 (stiff/formal/academic)
  • これは本であります。 (polite, sounds like a politician or a military personnel)
  • これは本でござる。 (sounds like a samurai)
  • これは本でございます。 (very polite)

(ござる is an irregular verb and its masu-form is normally ございます, although ござります is occasionally used.)

Technically, they can also follow the ウ音便 of i-adjectives (e.g., 高うあります, 面白うござる), but we seldom see this happen today. (ウ音便 itself has become uncommon.) We don't need a copula for an i-adjective, so I think this type of あります/ござる/ございます is merely for showing respect or politeness, just like how we use です with an i-adjective. Instead of おいしゅうございます/おいしゅうござる, we normally say おいしいです now (see this discussion).

Still, something like 高くある is occasionally used in modern Japanese, and they have special connotations ("to stay", "will"). See this question for examples: i-adjective modifying ある (eg 強くありたい).

  • 1
    You say, "ウ音便 itself has become uncommon." My impression is that it's more common in Kansai speech. Am I mistaken? May 1, 2020 at 5:01
  • 2
    @EiríkrÚtlendi Ah yes, they still commonly say おもろうない, ようやるわ and so on.
    – naruto
    May 1, 2020 at 5:06
  • "Instead of おいしゅうございます/おいしゅうござる, we normally say おいしいです now" - I can imagine an alternate reality where it became おいしゅうです instead. Or even おいしくてす. Jul 14, 2023 at 15:59

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