809 - お~する

JLPT N4: お~する

We'll be wrapping up our N4 studies with a look at super-polite Japanese.

Before we dive in, I recommend reviewing these past lessons of ours:

- [NDL #126] - Keigo Japanese - Part I
- [NDL #127] - Keigo Japanese - Part II
- [NDL #128] - Keigo Japanese - Part III
- [NDL #129] - Keigo Japanese - Part IV

 

The topic of this lesson is 謙譲語 (けんじょうご // humble language).

Humble language is for making yourself look lowly and humble... in order to show added respect to someone else.

Take the following sentence, for example:

商品は、約1週間後に送ります。
しょうひん は、 やく いっしゅうかん ご に おくります。
We will send you the items about one week from now.
Literally: “goods / products + は, + roughly / about + one week + later + に + send.”


There's nothing wrong with this sentence. However, it appears that our speaker is talking to a customer. As such, it would be a good idea to use humble language when describing his own action (=sending).

To do this, he could take the ます-stem of the verb 送る (おくる // to send), which would be 送り (おくり), and then put before it and する after it:

商品は、約1週間後に送りします
しょうひん は、 やく いっしゅうかん ご に おおくり します。
We will send you the items about one week from now.
Literally: “goods / products + は, + roughly / about + one week + later + に + sending + do.”


To make the sentence seem even more humble, the speaker could use the (irregular) humble form of the verb します, which would be いたします

商品は、約1週間後に送りいたします
しょうひん は、 やく いっしゅうかん ご に おおくり いたします。
We will send you the items about one week from now.
Literally: “goods / products + は, + roughly / about + one week + later + に + sending + (humbly) do.”


For lists of irregular humble and honorific verbs, be sure to read through the lessons linked to above.

Since our speaker is using a humble sentence pattern, he makes himself seem lower. Consequently, the recipient of the action seems higher/honored.

Note that I said "the recipient of the action." I did not say "the listener." This is because the person being honored is not necessarily the person being spoken to.

For example, in the following sentence, the speaker's teacher is being honored, but the teacher is not the listener. Instead, the listener appears to be someone on relatively close terms with the speaker, since a plain-form ending (=した) is used with the honorific pattern:

高校の時の先生を結婚式に招きした
こうこう の とき の せんせい を けっこんしき に おまねき した。
I invited my high school teacher to my wedding.
Literally: “high school + の + time + の + sensei + を + wedding (ceremony) + に + inviting + did.”


Make sense?

 



To recap, our grammar pattern is:

Vますする


This is not true in all cases, however. When the action being performed for the benefit of the honored person is a 漢語 (かんご // word of Chinese origin), we put in front of it, not .

For example, let's say that action being performed by the humble speaker is 案内する (あんないする // to guide; to show [someone] around). 案内 is a 漢語, a word of Chinese origin, so it needs to be preceded by . Then the verb する can follow it as usual:

真子さん、ぜひポートランドにいらっしゃってください。案内します
まこ さん、 ぜひ ポートランド に いらっしゃって ください。 ごあんない します。
Mako-san, you must come to Portland. I’ll show you around.
Literally: “Mako-san, + without fail / ceratinly + Portland + に + (honorably) come (and) + please. + guidance / showing (you) around + do.”


We already saw this happening in two of our previous lessons on super-polite language:
[NDL #456] - JLPT N4: お~ください
[NDL #463] - JLPT N4: お~・ご~

↑ Those also include more information about identifying words of Chinese origin.

While you're at it, you might as well check out this N3 lesson, too:
[NDL #471] - JLPT N3: お~です

 



Were you confused by the use of the verb いらっしゃる in the last example?

いらっしゃってください is just a more formal way of saying 来てください (きてください // please come). This, too, is an irregular form that is commonly used in honorific language. Again, this was discussed in one of the lessons mentioned above.

Verb: Regular → Honorific
Go: 行きます(いきます) → いらっしゃいます
Come: 来ます(きます)→ いらっしゃいます
Be: います → いらっしゃいます

 

Last example:

阿部先生のためなら、喜んで助けします
あべ せんせい の ため なら、 よろこんで おたすけ します。
For you, I’d be happy to help.
Literally: “Abe-sensei + の + sake / benefit + if (it’s the case that), + with pleasure (=be delighted [and]) + helping + do.”
Note: The listener is Abe-sensei.

 



Unless you get a job in which you need to interact with Japanese customers while speaking Japanese, you probably won't be needing to use humble language all that often.

However, since you will likely be the customer of a number of businesses when in Japan, you absolutely must be able to understand both humble and honorific Japanese.

Long story short, this is important Japanese to learn!

One. More. N4. Lesson. Left.



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