Introduction to Keigo Part 3: 謙譲語

更新: 2021年1月21日


こんばんは。 I will be sharing what is 謙譲語 tonight.

What is 謙譲語 (けんじょうご)?
謙譲語(けんじょうご) is also known as humble form. It is used to lift up the other party’s status by deprecating speaker’s own action and to express the respect towards that person.

日本語: 自分の動作をへりくだることで相手を高めて、その人物に対しての敬意を表す。

In my table above, Level 1 refers to people who are in the same social status (i.e. friends, acquaintances, etc.). What about Level 0? In the aspect of Keigo, i take it the level which the speaker humbles himself/herself down to a lower social status (e.g an eunuch talking to the emperor).

Let’s take a look at some examples.

わたしは 土曜日(どようび)に 友達(ともだち)の家 (うち) に いきます。
I will go to my friend’s house on Saturday.

わたしは 月曜日(げつようび)に 御社(おんしゃ)に 伺います(うかがいます)。
I will visit your company on Monday.
(Speaker humbles himself/herself down to a lower social status)

How to form verbs in 謙譲語?

There are 3 ways where you can form verbs in 謙譲語.

  1. お+連用形/ます-form+します (For 五段動詞 (Group 1) and 一段動詞 (Group 2) ) 

Example sentences:

  1. わたくし は 本日(ほんじつ)の予定(よてい) を おおくりします。
    (I will send you today’s schedule)
  2. こちらは レポートを おかきします。 (We will write the report)

Note: Not all the words can be used for this form (e.g. お+見+します)

2. ご+漢語+します (漢語 means words like 説明(せつめい)します or 案内(あんない) します)

  1. 本日(ほんじつ)のスケジュールをご説明します。 (I will explain today’s schedule)
  2. 本館(ほんかん)の施設(しせつ)をご案内します。 (I will guide you throughout the facility of this institution)

Exception (電話) : お+電話+します

3. Special Words
The last way would be to use the special words. Take note that not all the words are here as I have removed some which are under 丁重語 (ていちょうご).


Example sentences:

  1. せんせいに これを さしあげます。 (I will (humbly) give this to sensei)
  2. 月曜日に A社の社長 に お目にかかります。
    (I will (humbly) meet the CEO for Company A on Monday)
  3. その資料(しりょう)を 拝見 (はいけん) しても よろしいでしょうか。
    (Can i (humbly) take a look at that materials (that you have)?)
  4. 自分(じぶん) の意見 (いけん)  を申し上げます。
    I will (humbly) say my own opinions.

A lot of students have feedback to me that they always have issues with 敬語. I personally feel it is lack of practice. If we can practice 敬語 a bit more in our daily life, then speaking it should not be a problem.  Previously when I was studying 敬語、I remembered that I would speak to myself and change all the verbs to 敬語 every day for about 3 months.

For example:

「わたしは 日本へ行きます。」「わたくしは 御社(おんしゃ)にうかいがいます」, etc., etc.

I hope you have understood the usage of how to use 謙譲語 by reading this article. Please feel free to let me know if you are having issues with 謙譲語。

If you have missed out our Part 1 and Part 2 of the 敬語 series, you can find them below.

Part 1: Types of Keigo
Part 2: 尊敬語 (そんけいご) / Honorific form

Have a great day/night.


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