Word beautification

Is there a list of words that are commonly beautified with お- or ご-? I know お茶 always is, but I’ve also commonly heard:

  • お魚

  • お水

  • ご家族

  • お花

  • お湯

Some, like ご家族, have defined usages (ie, for referring to someone else’s family), but others seem equivalent to their un-beautified form. Are there any guidelines for this or is it just something you have to pick up over time?


instead of “beautification” (eventhoug 美化語 baseically means ithat) it’s more of another way of making it more polite. So like with all politeness things never use it for yourself and if you’re talking to someone use it depending on your standing to them or on the formality of the setting you are in.
In those cases you basically can put it infront of any word.

On top of that some words like お金 or ご飯 basically require it but words like that are also in the dictionary with the o and go.

(I’m not the most reliable source though so maybe don’t take this as gospel and wait for some more answers or look around on the internet)

Just talked to a native speaker. They said it is basically always used when something is a broader topic but only very VERY rarely used on specific things. So things like お茶 お魚 お酒 etc are basically a given but stuff like お緑茶 おしゃけ おビール etc is usualy not used and sounds weird


Basically what Sinom said. Which prefix is used and how it inflects on the meaning depends on the word. Instead of impressing you with my excellent copy pasta skills, I’ll forward some okay’ish looking google search result :stuck_out_tongue:


Though by the time you get to keigo-level of politeness, you’re practically putting it in front of every word. For example ちょっと待って > 少々お待ちください

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The resources everyone linked to are helpful! I would add that you totally pick it up over time. I hear honorific language whenever I’m a customer or a patron somewhere–shops, in announcements, etc. I definitely don’t know them all, but I’ve picked up really common ones.

I’ve heard 閉まるドアにご注意ください so many times at train stations now it’s burned into my brain.

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