810 - お~になる

JLPT N4: お~になる

This lesson is complementary to the last one: [NDL #809] - JLPT N4: お~する.

In that last lesson, we were talking about using humble language — speaking lowly of ourselves to show added respect/honor to others.

In this lesson, we are talking about honorific language — showing that certain people's actions are highly regarded.

You may recall that we had an example in which a speaker humbly describes the time at which he (and/or his associates) will send something to a customer:

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.”


Compare that with the following dialogue, where Person A uses honorific language to describe the action of another person (=the customer):

 A: 
資料は受け取りになりましたか。
しりょう は おうけとりになりました か。
Did you receive the materials that you were sent?
Literally: “materials / documents + は + receiving + に + became / did + か.”
Note: These "materials" could be pamphlets, documents, printouts, etc.

 B: 
いえ、まだ届いていません。
いえ、 まだ とどいていません。
No, they haven’t arrived yet.
Literally: “no, + still / yet + are not arriving.”


The action of "receiving" is done by someone Person A wants to show respect to. So, instead of「ます-stemする」(←humble language) we have「ます-stemになる」(←honorific language).

Why is なる, "to become," used in these honorific constructions?

Well, in honorific speech it can also be used to mean something like "to do."

Have you ever seen なる written in kanji? It will typically be written as either 成る or 為る (unless it's a different word like 鳴る [なる // to ring (e.g. a phone)]).

Interestingly, the verb なさる is also written with the kanji 為, as 為さる. You may recall that this is an irregular honorific form of the verb する, "to do." You'll probably hear it (irregularly) conjugated as なさいます. For example:

お飲み物はいかがなさいますか?
おのみもの は いかが なさいます か?
What would you like for your beverage?
Literally: "beverage / drink + は + how + do + か?"
Note: いかが is a formal version of どう, and なさいます is a formal version of します.


↑ Hopefully that helps a bit in explaining why we're using なる in our sentences for this grammar point.

 



Another example:

あさって、社長が福岡出張から帰りになります
あさって、 しゃちょう が ふくおか しゅっちょう から おかえりになります。
The (company) president will return from his business trip to Fukuoka the day after tomorrow.
Literally: “the day after tomorrow, + (company) president + が + Fukuoka + business trip + from + returning + に + becomes / does.”


↑ The person performing the action is someone to which the speaker wants to show respect (=the company president), so honorific language is used.

 



Let's try another one:

三沢さんは、先月亡くなりになりました
みさわ さん は、 せんげつ おなくなりになりました。
Misawa-san passed away last month.
Literally: “Misawa-san + は, + last month + passing away + に + became / did.”


Did お亡くなりになりました make your head spin?

Yeah, me too. This may help:

亡くなる(なくなる // to pass away; to die
↓ ↓
亡くなります(なくなります // passes away; dies
↓ ↓
亡くなりになりますおなくなりになります // [honorable person] passes away

 



Starting to get a feel for it?

One issue you might still run into is that certain verbs should not be used with the「 Vますになる」pattern.

It's best to learn these exceptions on a case by case basis. For example, you wouldn't say がんばりになります because the verb がんばる has sort of an informal ring to it.

Similarly, you wouldn't use this pattern when describing actions that are not "honorable," so to speak. For example, you wouldn't use a verb like 吐く (はく // to spit; to throw up; to vomit) with the お~になる pattern. Maybe this goes without saying...

Finally, note that certain verbs sound odd when used in this pattern simply due to the fact that people don't say them.

For example, you shouldn't say 座りになりますおすわりになります)because the verb 座る (すわる // to sit) isn't ever used with お~になる. Instead, there is a special phrase for saying "please sit down" to someone you want to show a lot of respect to:

 A: 
どうぞ、かけになってください。
どうぞ、 おかけになって ください。
Please, take a seat.
Literally: “go ahead, + taking a seat + に + become / do (and) + please.”

 B: 
ありがとうございます。
ありがとう ございます。
Thank you.
Literally: “thank you.”


A teacher of mine back in the day said that 座る isn't used because お座り (おすわり) is the kind of thing you say to a dog, not a highly respected person.

 



By the way, perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier, but be sure to go back and review how the passive tense can be used for honorific language: [NDL #602] - JLPT N4: ~られる ([honorific passive]).

 

We did it!

All JLPT N4 grammar points have now been covered in NDLs!



I've said this a number of times, but I truly believe that N4 grammar is the most difficult to learn out of all of the JLPT levels. While N2 and N1 overwhelm students with the sheer volume of sentence patterns that need to be learned, the grammatical constructions that make people's heads spin tend to be in N4.

So congratulate yourself! This is a major accomplishment.



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