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Japanese Culture: When to use the honorific vs. Humble form In what situation is the honorific form used vs. the humble form? As I understand it, the honorific is used with someone high ranking than you. The humble form is used by high-ranking officials to low-ranking officials. Is this correct?
Oct 7, 2012 10:46 PM
Answers · 2
They are tricky and sometimes difficult even for native speakers to use properly. Both of them are used when we talk to superiors. They are differentiated by subject, WHO does/acts something in a sentence. for example; 食べる (eat) : basic form 召し上がる (eat) : honorific form / SOMEONE who is superior eats いただく(eat): humble form / I ( or WE) eat Polite form (丁寧語) It's just a polite way to talk. i.g. (あなたは)何を食べましたか? = What did you eat? (私は)先に食べました. = I ate it (before you do). Honorific form (尊敬語) It is used when talking about an action of high-ranking people, superiors and customers. i.g. (あなたは)何を召し上がりましたか?  = What did YOU eat? Humble form (謙譲語) It is used when I (or we) describe something about myself (ourselves) to superiors or high-ranking people. i.g. (私は)先にいただきました。 = I ate it (before you do). * We usually say "いただきます" out of habit before eating as you might know, and it's a humble word. ----- Folllowing is a Japanese web page about those words, which is simple but well organized. http://park2.wakwak.com/~lion/benkyou/kotoba-tukaiwake.htm
October 8, 2012
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