お Prefix

One of my biggest issues with learning Japanese is the polite お prefix. I'm struggling to understand which words I'm allowed to use it with. Does anyone have a list of words that can take お as a prefix? Or some sort of hint for which words I can use お with?


November 12, 2017


The basic rule is,

  • for words of Chinese origin, use ご

  • for words of Japanese origin, use お

But I am not sure if knowing this rule would be helpful as it is not easy to remember the origin of words in the first place.

Moreover, there are exceptions (and unexplained). e.g. お茶、お電話

There are words that are almost always attached by お even when politeness is not called for, e.g. お金、お酒

Some words are attached by ご depending on the meaning and usage. My question is 質問 but your question is ご質問, whilst both my explanation and your explanation are ご説明.

Some words are just simply replaced by another word, e.g. 今日 == 本日. We don't say お今日, ご今日.

As every noun can have a polite form, it is probably not quite possible to learn all with a table.

I keep saying this: can you please add hiragana to your kanji, at least to the ones not in the course? That would enable me to know which words you are talking about, and I am actually interested to find out!

Try this site and let me know if it works for you. Copy and paste the text you want to read, and the site will add furigana on top of any kanji it finds. I just tried Keith's comment (all of it, English and Japanese) and it worked.

Yes, it works, thank you. Good to know this exists!

As far as the forum is concerned, I still think it would be nice if kanji came with explanations. This isn't exactly "Japanese Stack Exchange" - probably many people posting and reading here have a very limited knowledge of kanji, so help us out, please.

Thanks Arachnje that's a wonderful tool. A lingot!

Tried something stupid like 一昨日山中湖の中村屋で一日中ずっと中華料理を食べていた。It only failed on 一昨日. I think it is amazing. Is it possible to copy the codes and paste here?

By "codes", do you mean the kanji with the generated furigana attached? If so it seems no (the forum structure doesn't allow it).
If anyone is interested, there is also Hiragana megane, which you can use to attach furigana to webpages, but it didn't work with this post page when I tried it (I was redirected to the Japanese duolingo site that for some reason, did not recognize my credentials; I wonder if it was a glitch only for me).

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