Humble Japanese (謙譲語 = kenjougo )

「そろそろ朝食をいただいてもよろしいでしょうか。」

= Sorosoro choushoku wo itadaite mo yoroshii deshouka.

= Could we have breakfast now if it’s possible?

「お腹がすいて参りました。」

= Onaka ga suite mairimashita.

= We are getting hungry.

「お手数おかけします。」

= Otesuu okake shimasu.

= Sorry to trouble you.

 

 

Hi everyone!

I made a lesson on 謙遜 ( = kenson): How to sound more humble in Japanese, many years ago. 

By request, I will teach you the “humble form”, 謙譲語けんじょうご = kenjougo),  with today’s cute guest teachers, Bruno, Khyra and Leo. 

*****

こんにちは! = Konnichiwa! = Hello!

I’m Bruno. I will make a lesson for you with my sister Khyra, the sweet little princess, and Leo, the funny fellow.

Even though we’re a bit hungry, we would like to give you a lesson on “humble form” in Japanese. 

Before we begin, let me give you the general idea of 敬語 ( = keigo), 丁寧語 ( = teineigo) and 謙譲語 ( = kenjougo)

When you talk to a “superior” (Note: In Japanese by “superior” we mean someone older than you, or higher ranking in your company like your boss, or someone you need to show respect to like customers, clients, etc.) you have to use polite Japanese.

You have to change the politeness level depending on who you are talking to. 

*When you are talking about someone’s action: 

(1) Casual speech: Between friends.: dictionary form (sometimes you attach, casual suffix, ( = no)? ) for a question.

Ex. マギー、明日、何時に学校に行く?

= Maggie, ashita, nanji ni gakkou ni iku?

= What time are you going to the school tomorrow, Maggie?

(2) polite form: masu-form. (丁寧語 = ていねいご = teineigo = polite Japanese)

Ex. マギー先生、明日、何時に学校に行きますか?

= Maggie sensei, ashita, nanji ni gakkou ni ikimasu ka?

(3) If you respect me a lot, you use 敬語 ( = keigo) honorific form

Ex. マギー先生、明日、何時に学校に行かれますか?

= Maggie sensei,  ashita, nanji ni, gakkou ni ikaremasu ka?

(4)  There is even more polite 敬語 ( = keigo), honorific form.

Ex. マギー先生、明日、何時に学校にいらっしゃいますか?

= Maggie sensei, ashita, nanji ni gakkou ni irasshaimasu ka?

***

When you talk about your own actions, however, you should use “humble form”.

(1) Casual speech: Between friends: dictionary form

Ex. 明日、学校に行く

= Ashita, gakkou ni iku. 

= I am going to school tomorrow. 

 (Sometimes you attach a suffix,  ( = yo) ,  ( = ne), etc.

(2) polite form: masu-form. 丁寧語 = ていねいご = teineigo = polite Japanese)

Ex. 明日、学校に行きます

= Ashita, gakkou ni ikimasu.

(3-A) 謙譲語 ( = kenjougo ) humble form A

Ex. 明日、学校に参ります

= Ashita, gakkou ni mairimasu.

(3-B) 謙譲語 ( = kenjougo ) humble form B

If the speaker is going to see a superior at school, you would say:

Ex. 明日、学校に伺います

= Ahista, gakkou ni ukagai imasu.

= I am going to school to see you. 

******

So today we will focus on 謙譲語 ( = kenjougo) humble form.

When you talk about your own actions to a superior, you should use “humble form”. 

The basic idea is you lower yourself by being humble to show your respect to a “superior”.

And you can tell how humble you are by the words you choose.

行きます ( = ikimasu), means “I’m going”. And it is polite enough, but 参ります ( = mairimasu) — the humble form — shows more respect. 

*You also use the humble form when referring to people in your group (family members or coworkers, etc.) when you talk to other people. 

Ex. 息子に伺わせます。

= Musuko ni ukagawasemasu.

= I will make my son go visit you.

Ex. 部下の斎藤が伺います。

=  Buka no Saitou ga ukagaimasu.

=  My subordinator, Saito, will go visit you.

 :qq: How to make the humble form.

1) The simple way to make a verb into the humble form.

( = o) + verb masu stem + します( = shimasu) / (more polite) 致します = いたします ( = itashimasu.)

The honorific form of する ( = suru )= to do is 

致す= いたす = itasu

→(masu form) 致します = いたします = itashimasu

* 作ります = tsukurimasu = to make

1) masu-stem  作り= つくり= tsukuri

2) Attach ( = o)  作り= つくり = o  tsukuri

お作り = おつくり = otsukuri

3-A) add します ( = shimasu) 

お作りします= おつくりします = otsukuri shimasu.

(more polite)  

3-B) add 致します = いたします = itashimasu

お作り致します = おつくりいたします=  Otsukuri shimasu.

Ex. 私が夕食をお作りします。

= Watashi / (more polite) Watakushi ga yuushoku wo otsukuri shimasu.

= I will make dinner (for you).

→(more polite)  

私が夕食をお作りいたします。

= Watashi / (more polite) Watakushi ga yuushoku wo otsukuri itashimasu

= I will make dinner (for you).

Note: You can’t tell the politeness level by reading English translation. But all these example sentence are very polite.

* 下げる = sageru = to take away / to lower something

Ex. お皿をお下げします。

= Osara wo osage shimasu.

= I will take away your plate. (Let me take away your plate.)

→(more polite)  

Ex. お皿をお下げいたします。

= Osara wo osage itashimasu.

Note: You attach ( = o)  to specific nouns to make them sound more polite.

Ex. = さら = sara = dish

お皿  =  おさら = osara

Ex. = みず = mizu = water

お水 = おみず = omizu

Ex. お手洗いをお借りしてもよろしいですか?

= Otearai wo okari shite mo yoroshii desu ka?

= May I use the bathroom?

Note: よろしい ( = yoroshii) is a polite way to say いい ( = ii) good, convenient

Ex. お茶をおいれしましょうか。

= Ocha wo oire shimasyou ka.

= May I serve you some tea?

(at a hotel)

Ex. お部屋の鍵をお預かりいたします。

= Oheya no kagi wo oazukari itashimasu.

= I will take your room key

(Note: the implication here being the staff will hold onto it for the guest). 

Ex. ご質問にお答えします。

= Goshitsumon ni okotae shimasu.

= I will answer your question. / Let me answer your question.

( = go) ( = o) + compound-word verb + します ( = shimasu) / (more polite)  致しますいたします (  = itashimasu.)

(at a hotel)

Ex. お部屋までご案内いたします。

= Oheya made goannai itashimasu.

= I will take you to the room. 

Ex. お車のご用意いたしました。

= Okuruma no goyoui itashimashita.

= We arranged your car. 

Ex. その件についてご説明いたします。

= Sono ken ni tsuite gosetsumei itashimasu.

= I will explain the matter. / Let me explain the matter.

Ex. 明日、またご連絡致します。

= Ashita, mata gorenraku itashimasu.

= I will contact you again tomorrow.

Ex. こちらからお電話いたします。

= Kochira kara odenwa itashimasu.

= I will call you. / I will give you a call. 

Ex. 新しい製品をご紹介いたします。

= Atarashii seihin wo go shoukai itashimasu.

= Allow me to show you our new product.

Ex. お手伝いいたしましょうか?

= Otetsudai itashimashou ka?

= May I help you?

2) Now, a lot of verbs have their own humble form.

いる = iru = to be, there is,to have  (people) 

おる = oru 

→(masu form) おります= orimasu

Ex. 「田中さんいらっしゃいますか?」

= Tanaka san irasshaimasu ka?

= Is Mr. / Ms. Tanaka there?

「はい、おります。」

= Hai, orimasu.

= Yes, he / she is.

Ex.お子さんはいらっしゃいますか?」

= Okosan wa irasshai masu ka?

= Do you have children?

Ex.はい、二人おります。」

= Hai, futari orimasu.

= Yes, I have two.

*When you describe your state,  Vている= V te iru → Vておる= te oru 

Ex. 秘書が急にやめて困っております。

= Hisho ga kyuu ni yamete komatte orimasu.

=  My secretary quit all of a sudden, and I’ve been having a trouble. 

Ex. 子供達も元気にしております。

= Kodomotachi mo genki ni shiteorimasu.

= My children are also doing well. 

Ex. ご無沙汰しております。

= Gobusata shite orimasu.

= It has been a long time since we met before.

来る = くる = kuru = to come

行く = いく=  iku = to go

参る = まいる = mairu

→(masu form) 参ります = まいります = mairimasu

伺う = うかがう = ukagau (If you see someone there)

→(masu form) 伺います = うかがいます = ukagaimasu

行く( = iku = to go)  and 来る ( = kuru = to come)  have opposite meaning but we use the same humble verbs.

Ex. 明日、朝の8時に参ります。

= Ashita, asa no hachiji ni mairimasu.

= I am coming / going there at 8 am tomorrow.

Ex. 何時に伺ったらよろしいでしょうか?

= Nanji ni ukagattara yoroshii deshou ka?

= What time should I go /come visit you?

Ex. 荷物をお届けに参りました。

= Onimotsu wo otodoke ni mairimashita.

= I came here to deliver a package.

You can use 参る= まいる ( = mairu) when you say Vてくる = V te kuru

Ex. 郵便が来たかどうか見てまいります。

= Yuubin ga kita ka douka mite mairimasu.

= I will go check if the mail has come.

Ex. 次回は子供を連れてまいります。

= Jikai wa kodomo wo tsurete mairimasu.

= I will bring my child next time.

From the picture above

Ex. お腹がすいてまいりました。

= Onaka ga suite mairimashita.

= I am getting hungry.

When you leave your house/office.

Ex. 行ってまいります。

= Itte mairimasu.

= I am leaving now. 

Note: It sounds more polite than 行ってきます ( = itte kimasu) 

見る = みる = miru = to see (something)

拝見する = はいけんする = haiken suru 

Ex. 先日、作品を拝見しました。

= Senjitsu, sakuhin wo haiken shimashita.

=  I saw your work the other day.

(Note: In this case, “work” refers to some sort of art work.)

聞く/ 聴く = きく= kiku = to listen 

拝聴する=はいちょうする=  haichou suru 

→(masu form) 拝聴します = はいちょうします= haichou shimasu.

Ex. 講演を拝聴しました。

= Kouen wo haichou shimashita.

= I heard your lecture. 

会う = あう = au = to see (someone)/ to meet

お目にかかる = おめにかかる = ome ni kakaru

→(masu form) お目にかかります= おめにかかります= ome ni kakarimasu.

Ex. 明日、お目にかかりたいのですが。

= Ashita, ome ni kakaritai no desu ga.

= I would like to see you tomorrow.

言う = いう=  iu = to say

申す = もうす = mousu = to say 

(masu form) 申します = もうします = moushimasu.

申し上げる = もうしあげる = moushiageru (to say something to someone

→(masu form) 申し上げます = もうしあげます= moushiagemasu.

Ex. 田中と申します。

= Tanaka to moushimasu. 

= I’m Tanaka. (My name is Tanaka.) 

Ex. 心よりお詫び申し上げます。

= Kokoro yori owabi moushiagemasu.

= ((direct translation) I express my apology from the bottom of my heart.)

= I sincerely apologize.

You see 申し上げます ( = moushiagemasu) a lot in formal written greetings.

Ex. 心より感謝申し上げます。

= Kokoro yori kansha moushiagemasu.

= I would like to express my sincere appreciation.

Ex. 暑中お見舞もうしあげます。

= Shochuu omimai moushiagemasu.

= Summer greetings. / Best wishes for summer season. 

Ex. 心よりお悔やみ申し上げます。

= Kokoro yori okuyami moushiagemasu.

= Please accept my sincere condolences.

To someone who changed jobs, got promoted, or is about to move away, etc.

Ex. 今後のご活躍、心よりお祝い申し上げます。

= Kongo no gokatsuyaku,  kokoro yori oiwai moushiagemasu.

= Wishing for your great success in your future from the bottom of our heart. 

食べる = たべる= taberu = to eat 

飲む = のむ = nomu = to drink 

もらう = morau = to receive 

いただく = itadaku

→(masu form) いただきます  = itadakimasu

Many of you already know the line いただきます( = itadakimasu) which you say before you eat.  Now you know the real meaning.

I am going to eat. 

いただく ( = itadaku) can be used for when you drink or receive something as well.

Ex. コーヒーいただきます。

= Koohii itadakimasu.

= I’ll have some coffee.

Ex. 昨日、お隣さんから美味しいお菓子をいただいた。

= Kinou, otonari san kara oishii okashi wo itadaita.

= I received some delicious sweets from our neighbor yesterday.

Note: You also say 頂戴(ちょうだい)する  (= choudai suru) for receiving something

お菓子を頂戴した。

= Okashi wo choudai shita.

Ex. ゆかり: 「マギー先生、いつもお世話になっております。こちらダイヤのカラーです。どうぞお納めください。」

= Yukari: “Maggie Sensei, itsumo osewa ni natteorimasu. Kochira daiya no karaa desu. Douzo oosame kudasai.”

=Yukari: Maggie Sensei. Thank you for always helping me. This is a diamond collar for you. Please accept it.

マギー:「お気持ちだけ頂戴します。」

= Maggie: “ Okimochi dake choudai shimasu.”

= (Direct translation)Maggie: I will just take your thought. 

= Maggie:I can’t take it (No thank you) but I appreciate the thought.

知る = しる = shiru = to know/ 思う= おもう = omou = to think

存じる = ぞんじる = zonjiru 

→(masu form) 存じます = ぞんじます= zonjimasu

存じ上げる = ぞんじあげる = zonjiageru  

→(masu form) 存じ上げます = ぞんじあげます

Ex. 本日はお楽しみいただければと存じます。

= Honjitsu wa otanoshimi itadakereba to zonjimasu.

= I hope you have a good time today.

Ex. お忙しいとは存じますがどうぞお時間ありましたらいらしてください。

= Oisogashii to wa zonjimasu ga douzo ojikan arimashitara irashite kudasai.

= I know you’re busy, but please come when you have time.

Note: You use this form in the meaning of 思う ( = omou) , to think more than 知る ( = shiru)

For “to know” you use the following. ↓

知っている = shitte imasu = to know

→(masu form) 存じています = ぞんじています =  zonjite imasu 

more polite 存じております = ぞんじております =  zonjite orimasu

→(masu form) 存じ上げています= ぞんじあげています = zonjiagete imasu 

more polite 存じ上げております= ぞんじあげております = zonjiagete orimasu 

(negative form

知らない = しらない = shiranai = not to know

(masu form) 知りません = しりません= shirimasen

存じません = ぞんじません = zonjimasen 

more polite 存じておりません = ぞんじておりません = zonjite orimasen 

存じ上げません= ぞんじあげません = zonjiagemasen 

more polite 存じ上げておりません = zonjiagete orimasen

Note: When you are talking about people, you use 存じ上げる = zonjiageru

When you are talking about things or events, you use 存じる= zonjiru

Ex. 「マギー先生をご存知ですか?」

= Maggie Sensei wo gozonji desu ka?

= Do you know who Maggie Sensei is? 

Note: When you talk about someone else, you use 敬語 ( = keigo) honorific form.

The honorific form of 知る( = shiru) is ご存知 ( = gozonji).

「はい、存じ上げております。」

= Hai, zonjiagete orimasu.

= Yes, I know her.

「いいえ、存じ上げません。」

= Iie, zonji agemasen.

= No, I don’t know her.

Ex. 「先月、東京に引っ越しいたしました。」

= Sengetsu, Toukyou ni hikkoshi itashimashita.

= I moved to Tokyo last month.

「存じております。」

= Zonji te orimasu.

= Yes, I know (about that).

「それは存じませんでした。」

= Sore wa zonjimasen deshita.

= I didn’t know that.

Note: Again, the English translation is very simple but all these Japanese sentences are very polite.

Be careful not to use these humble forms to describe someone else’s action who is not related to you or in your group.

X 橋本さんを存じておりますか? (wrong)

= Hashimoto san wo zonji de orimasuka?

= Do you know who Mr. Hashimoto is?

橋本さんをご存知ですか?

= Hashimoto san wo gozonji desu ka?

So you have to know right honorific form to refer to someone’s action. 

みなさん、このレッスンを最後までお読みいただき有難うございました。

= Minasan, kono ressun wo saigo made oyomi itadaki arigatou gozaimashita.

= Thank you for reading this lesson through to the end.

それでは失礼してこれからお食事をいただきたいと存じます。

= Soredewa shitsurei shite korekara oshokuji wo itadakitai to zonjimasu.

= Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to eat now.

******

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

Bruno先生、Khyra Leo、ありがとう!

= Bruno Sensei, Khyra, Leo, arigatou!

= Thank you, Bruno Sensei,  Khyra and Leo! 

どうぞ、朝ごはんをごゆっくり召し上がってください。

= Douzo, asagohan wo goyukkuri meshiagatte kudasai.

= Please enjoy your breakfast. 

******

My supporters on Patreon can access an audio file for this lesson on my Patreon page and some mini lessons and quiz.

Audio File for this lesson

:rrrr:    Click here.

Quiz of Humble form

:rrrr: Click here

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