Japanese Language and Culture

Humble

Production Rules:

Rule Meaning
Infinitive (1) お + [い-stem] & する
o + [i-stem] & suru
to [do]
Infinitive (2) お + [い-stem] & いたす
o + [i-stem] & itasu

Inflection Examples:

変える
kaeru (to change)
お変えする
okae suru
お変えいたす
okae itasu
話す
hanasu (to speak)
お話しする
ohanashi suru
お話しいたす
ohanashi itasu
引く
hiku (to pull)
お引きする
ohiki suru
お引きいたす
ohiki itasu
防ぐ
fusegu (to prevent)
お防ぎする
ofusegi suru
お防ぎいたす
ofusegi itasu
呼ぶ
yobu (to call)
お呼びする
oyobi suru
お呼びいたす
oyobi itasu
進む
susumu (to make progress)
お進みする
osusumi suru
お進みいたす
osusumi itasu
死ぬ
shinu (to die)
N/A N/A
作る
tsukuru (to make)
お作りする
otsukuri suru
お作りいたす
otsukuri itasu
待つ
matsu (to wait)
お待ちする
omachi suru
お待ちいたす
omachi itasu
洗う
arau (to wash)
お洗いする
oarai suru
お洗いいたす
oarai itasu

Irregulars:

Infinitive
する
suru
(to do)
いたす
itasu
くる
kuru
(to come)
参る
mairu
行く
iku
(to go)
参る
mairu
伺う
ukagau
いる
iru
(to be, to stay)
おる
oru
食べる
taberu
(to eat)
いただく
itadaku
飲む
nomu
(to drink)
いただく
itadaku
言う
iu
(to say)
申す
mousu
申し上げる
moushiageru
上げる
ageru
(to give)
差し上げる
sashiageru
見る
miru
(to see)
拝見する
haiken suru
拝見いたす
haiken itasu
知る
shiru
(to know)
存じる
zonjiru
聞く
kiku
(to ask, to hear, to listen)
伺う
ukagau (to ask)
承る
uketamawaru (to hear or listen)
拝聴する
haichou suru (to listen)
拝聴いたす
haichou itasu (to listen)
ある
aru
(to be, to exist)
ござる *
gozaru

* This is not humble, since it applies only to inanimate things, however, it is often used in situations in which humble forms are called for.

Usage Notes & Examples:

  1. The above represents common patterns for how verbs are made humble, but the fact is that keigo is extremely complex. There are many exceptions governing how particular verbs are made humble, depending on what forms have survived to modern times, as well as particular ways of expressing certain sentiments. For instance, notice that a number of the model verbs used for the other forms could not be used here. It would be advisable to check a reliable source for any particular case.
  2. Humble forms are used only when the speaker, or member of the speaker's in-group is the subject. It lowers the position of the subject in order to show politeness to the listener. This is a separate function from that provided by the "normal polite" forms ("desu", "masu"), which show politeness to the listener regardless of the subject, so these are still generally needed.
  3. Note that some verbs have inherently polite or humble counterparts that are used in their place when a humble form is called for, and the most common examples are listed in the irregulars table above.
  4. There are numerous exceptions in how particular verbs are made humble, so it would be advisable to check a reliable source for any particular case.
  5. For verbs that conjugate as noun + "suru", where the noun involved is of Chinese origin (i.e. the "on" reading of the kanji is used), generally "itasu" is used in place of "suru". For example, "benkyou suru" becomes "benkyou itasu".

Copyright © 2010-2011 Collin McCulley. All Rights Reserved.

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