第125課: Honorifics II: Adjectives & the Copula

Pay close attention to what is deemed old-fashioned and what is not. 


  Nowadays, adjectives hardly ever change for 敬語, though this is a rather new phenomenon. Nowadays, the "honorific" use of adjectives is normally seen in the pattern お+Adjective+です. This is often felt to just be really polite speech rather than honorific speech, and the use of Adjective + です alone suffices for most of the times honorifics has been used in the past. 

Adjectives don't necessarily even refer to human entities, nor does every description of a higher up necessarily get set to him/her face to face. Phrases for making a sentence indirect would most certainly be used in such a situation anyway. So, why is that 丁寧語 can suffice most of the time? 丁寧語 is chosen to show a feeling of politeness and show one's own dignity, but there does not have to be a direct relationship.  

お・ご~ Note: The omission of the honorific prefixes is primarily determined whether you are showing respect/humility or using 丁寧語. As you could imagine, the latter case is for when they should be omitted.


In the examples below, you will see various other patterns that hint at what has traditionally been the usage for adjectives. More will be said about them later in this lesson. So, for now, treat options as synonyms.  

1. お忙しいですか。(普通)
    Are you busy?

2. インドへ行けるのは嬉し{ゅうございます・い限りです・い所存でございます}。(謙譲語)
     I would be happy to go to India.

Sentence Note: This example shows how you can make an adjective more humble. 所存 means intention, and it is a good formal choice. We will get to what exactly ゅうございます is later in this lesson.

3a. 皆様本日はお忙しいところご参加(いただ)きありがとうございます。(謙譲語)
3b. 皆様本日はお忙しいところご臨席(りんせき)(たまわ)りありがとうございます。(上位者などに対する尊敬語)
3c. 皆様本日はお忙しいところご出席下さりありがとうございます。(尊敬語)
      Thank you for attending.

4a. 開けてもよろしいですか。
4b. 開けてもよろしいでしょうか。(△/More polite)
      Is it alright if I open up (the window)?

自然さ Note: よろしいでしょう to many speakers is incorrect 敬語 because it is a doubling of two patterns at once to make it such. However, to some, the politeness of よろしい seems insufficient, thereby making this a reasonable solution.  

Exception Note: The honorific form of よい is よろしい・宜しい. 

5a. 皆さん、お静かに願います。(とても丁寧)
5b. 皆様、ご静粛(せいしゅく)にお願い申し上げます。(Very respectful)
      Everyone, please be quiet.

6a. ご立派でいらっしゃいます。
6b. ご立派であらせられます。(Old-fashioned; very respectful)
      You are great.

形容詞: 連用形 ございます   (古風な言い方)

       For 形容詞 there is a more older pattern that has fallen out of use that you may still use. Depending on the expression, it may not be so old-fashioned. You'll continue to find situations in the next few lessons in which it is completely fine and normal. However, for any given adjective like 楽しい, using it with the auxiliary ございます as illustrated below is felt to be too grandiose to most people these days. 

Again, this is deemed to be old-fashioned, but you can still see a lot of examples of it in literature, and the book don't have to be that old for you to find this pattern used. It also happens to use with any adjective. This pattern utilizes the auxiliary verb ~う after the 連用形 of adjectives. However, there are subsequent contraction rules. 

 If it ends in... Drop Add Then Add
 ―いい ―いい Small ゅ +う ございます
 ―あい ―あい ―おう ございます
 ―おい ―おい ―おう ございます
 ―うい ―うい ―うう ございます


 大きい 大きゅうございます Big 嬉しい 嬉しゅうございます Happy
 早い 早うございます Early よろしい よろしゅうございます Good
 新しい 新しゅうございます New 白い 白ございます White
 難しい 難しゅうございます Difficult 古い 古うございます Old
 赤い 赤うございます Red 悪い 悪うございます Bad

Grammar Note: When you create the negative form of an adjective, change ございます to ございません and use the く-連用形. In the participial position, only an honorific prefix is used.

You've already seen this perhaps the first day you started learning Japanese with the phrase ありがとうございます. This pattern actually originates from 上方 (from the Kansai Region during the Edo Period) speech. It was one of those things that became part of 標準語 as 標準語 itself developed from influences coming from all corners of the country. 

7. 部屋は夏でも涼しゅうございます。(古風)
    The room is cool even in the summer.

8. お早うございます。
    Good morning.
    Literally: You're early.

9. 旅行は(なご)うございます。(古風)
    The trip is long.

10. お友達と別れるのは本当に悲しゅうございます。(古風)
      Separating from one's friends is really sad.

11. このお茶は(うす)うございます。(古風)
      The tea is flat.

12. 地震や余震(よしん)(おそ)ろしゅうございますね。(古風)
      Earthquakes and aftershocks are scary, aren't they?

13. 空は青うございます。(古風)
      The sky is blue.

14. 「はあ、一人三円で参ります。少しお高うございますが、翌る日寝てしまいますから。」
      "Yes, I'll come for three yen a person. It is a little high, but it is because I sleep the next day".
From 死体紹介人 by 川端康成.

History Note: There was a time in Japan's history when the yen was far more valuable than it is today just as the dollar and penny once were in America. 

15. 日本は大きくございません。(品格(ひんかく)のある丁寧さ; ちょっと古風)
      Japan is not large.

Pattern Note: Avoiding the contractions is a way to make honorific adjectives sound less old-fashioned and yet at the same time be more polite. Remember that sentences like this are examples of 丁寧語, not 尊敬語.

16. 「それで、好ござんすとも」と御米は答えた。
       "Then, that's fine", Oyome replied.
From 門 by 夏目漱石.

Contraction Note: よござんす is a shortening of よろしゅうございます and was a common 江戸言葉 in light honorifics a century ago. Always be on the lookout for odd stuff in literature. 


Many older speakers cannot get used to adding です or a copula of any sort after a 形容詞. The coming of this pattern, like with many generational changes, can be explained by contractions. In this case, the common practice of the new typing age and East Japanese dialect habits became standard. However, as you learn more about how to make your speech ever more honorific, one way to overcome this grammaticality issue is by changing the adjective to an adverb and using {思って・存じて}おります. 

17. 有り(がた)く存じております。
      I am very grateful.
Literally: I think very gratefully.

18. うれしく思っております。
      I am very happy.
      Literally: I'm thinking happily. 

The Copula

The copula doesn't have a true 謙譲語 form. When you wish to show more politeness with the copula, you use the form でございます. However, this is classified as 丁寧語. It is politer than です・ます調, and it can be used to refer to third person intentions along with sentences regarding oneself. In fact, ございます as a stand alone verb is classified as 尊敬語 or 丁寧語. As far as the copula is concerned, its 尊敬語 is でいらっしゃいます. Referring to their plain forms for convenience, you'll learn that いらっしゃる and ござる happen to be honorific verbs. So, it's no surprise that they would be used this way with the copula.  

19. 社長、こちらは藤原常務でいらっしゃいます。
      President, this is Director Fujiwara. 

20. 皇帝から頼まれたものでございます。
      This is something that was entrusted to me from the Emperor.

21. そうではございません。
      It's not so.

22. 私はこの子の父でございます。
      I am the father of this child.  

23. はい、鈴木でございます。
      Yes, this is Suzuki.