そんけいご【尊敬語】

■honorific speech, one form of 敬語 (けいご)

尊敬語 indicates that the person being referred to has higher social status, so when the subject of the sentence has a higher social (or Confucian) status, the verb is changed to a 尊敬語 type. The ます・です調 (ます・ですちょう) masu/desu form is usually used with these verbs, though this is also dependent on the social environment. There are three main types of 尊敬語 verbs:

  1. -られる: Also used for the passive, undesirable results, and potential, the -られる form of verbs is also used to indicate higher social status. It is a bit more relaxed than the other two forms. Add られる to the negative -ない form of the verb and congugate for tense. Although there is a trend to use -れた for 一段動詞 いちだんどうし, this is more common for the potential use of -られる than the honorific use.
  2. Special honorific verbs: The main four are: いらっしゃるおっしゃるなさる召し上がる. See 敬語動詞の一覧表 for a basic list of these verbs. These are normally conjugated only for past tense and sometimes for the progressive, though いらっしゃる after a regular verb is common for the progressive.
  3. お+(ます form)+に+なる: The -られる form is normally used for なる. Examples include:

There are other patterns not normally used in modern Japanese such as the あそぶ suffix.


This entry was created by Benjamin Barrett with suggestions from Matthew Stevens.


Created 2001-06-08.


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