Politeness when answering the phone

I’m having trouble with this sentence:


Why is it でございます and not でいらっしゃいます? I asked a Japanese person, but she could only tell me that でございます is more polite. I don’t understand how it’s more polite though. Wouldn’t treating the audience (presumably a customer) as being of a higher status be more polite?

What is the context? ございます and いらっしゃいます mean different things.

She probably said はい、 学院でございます which is just a polite way of saying “Yes, this is an academy” In that case, でございます is just a polite substitute for です

If she said はい、学院にいらっしゃいます。 She would say that someone she is showing respect to is at the academy. In this case, it would be a polite substitute for います

tl;dr, でございます = です

She was politely telling you that you got the definitions mixed up.


Yeah, was it not でございます? That’s a more polite form for です.

ございます would be a polite form of ある.

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As it says in the title, the context is answering the phone. I did have a typo in the original post though. There should be a で in front of all verbs.

でございます です でいらっしゃいます all as in “is”

Why not でいらっしゃいます then? Would it still be showing someone at the academy respect instead of the audience?

I’ll fix the typos.

The difference between the two is the same difference between です and います。They mean different things. They both show the same amount of respect, but they are not interchangeable.

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Well, でいる is something you can say, and thus でいらっしゃる is also something you can say by extension… but means “being” or “being a” if I had to translate just that.

So you can say 学生でいるうち… (while you are a student, literally “while being a student”) Or something like that. It’s not that common of a grammar point.

It’s not really an option for the situation you were referring to.

いらっしゃる without で is common and was already explained.

We’re talking about different things, which seems to be due to my initial typos which I’m sorry for.

However, I’m more inclined to believe the Japanese textbook (made by native speakers) I got this sentence from regarding which verb it is. The subsection was the 五つの いらっしゃいます

うち-------------------ちゅうりつ-------------------- よそ ------------------ 英語
まいります --------- きます ------------------ いらっしゃいます ------ come
おります ------------ います ------------------ いらっしゃいます------- be
まいります --------- いきます --------------- いらっしゃいます ------ go
~ております ------ ~ています ----------- ~ていらっしゃいます --be [verb]ing
~でございます---- ~です ----------------- ~でいらっしゃいます --is

So what’s unclear exactly ?
On the phone they say: はい、○○学院です。
We are ○○ academy / This is ○○ academy

They are talking about themselves, so they use humble form of です.
Same when you present yourself, with normal polite form you would say “(私は)CDR-Strawberryです”。With keigo it become “CDR-Strawberryでございます。”


Okay… Are you familiar with keigo and how different sets of words are used for different people based on their relationships? いらっしゃる can never be used to talk about yourself, regardless of what usage is being considered.

Edit: I just noticed the table you posted has the headers うち and よそ to express that concept.

The person who answered the phone said the name of their own institution with a copula, so they have to use something from the うち (or ちゅうりつ, but it would be less polite) column. The よそ column isn’t an option.

I think the Japanese person you asked just didn’t know how to explain the うち / よそ concept so they said it’s less polite. Which is an oversimplification.


This is a pretty good explanation of polite/formal Japanese speech. LingoDeer has a good lil’ chart too. But basically there’s humble and honorific keigo. The former puts you at a ‘lower’ level than who you’re talking to, and the latter puts the person you’re talking to at a ‘higher’ level than you.

Edit: I see you put うち and そと in your headers, which is definitely the actual way keigo is termed, but I’ve always found it easier to think in this way.

In this case, the speaker is using the humble form of です, which is でございます, to put them at a ‘lower’ level than whomever is on the phone. If they were to use the honorific でいらっしゃいます in this case, then it sounds like the speaker is talking respectfully about the existence of the academy which is not themselves (presumably the person on the other end), which is weird and not correct for this situation. It’s like whenever you enter a store, the staff says some form でいらっしゃいます which is basically saying “You are now at our store you very important respected person” not “we humble staff are here at this store” nope, this isn’t right, see the reply to this post

some edits because for some reason I couldn’t type Japanese for a bit there

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いらっしゃいませ in that instance is actually (I believe) an extremely polite way of saying 来い. It presumably(?) derives from old school market barkers calling people to their stalls and now (like many 挨拶) isn’t really connected to it’s origins and just means “welcome,”, but yeah, they don’t actually say いらっしゃいます and they aren’t just stating the fact that you’re there, either.

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Whoops, you’re definitely right. I should’ve double checked that :sweat_smile: I’ll put in another edit about that. Thanks!

Ok, I think I understand now. I already knew there were different levels of politeness in Japanese, but I was stuck on which form it should be. Since the verb is being used to refer to the same group as the speaker, it should be the humble form? I was thinking of it like the person you’re talking to is the customer, so you should use the form that acknowledges them as your superior. I guess that’s only the case if they are also the subject of the verb?

Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Also, why did WaniKani murder the chart… I’ll try to make it legible again.

This is what you’re doing. Both sides of the chart do this in different ways. One side lowers the subject and one side raises the subject. So if you are talking about yourself, you need to lower yourself. It shows they are superior. If they are the subject of the sentence you raise them up. It shows they are superior.


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