The subject of the sentence receives a low social status. Note that this is not akin to slinging mud in one's face. On the contrary, use of 謙譲語 shows a willingness to be humble, a praiseworthy trait. In general, the higher the social status a person has, the stronger the tendency for that person to use 謙譲語.
謙譲語 is typically used when the subject of the sentence is the speaker or a member of the speaker's family. There are two main groupings of 謙譲語 verbs.
◇ The special verbs such as 参る・居る・申す・致す・いただく must be learned piecemeal. See 敬語動詞の一覧表 for a 敬語 (けいご) correspondence table.
Note that common words such as 墓参り はかまいり cemetery visit and いただきます (said before eating) are derived from these forms.
◇ In addition, there is a pattern for use when doing something for someone else: お + （ます form) + する/いたす. The ます調 (ますちょう） masu forms します and いたします are almost always used instead of する/いたす. Examples:
お渡しします: Give (something to someone)
◇ There are also some nouns that indicate humility. In addition to humble words for family relatives, there are words such as 弊社 my/our company and 小生 I.
This entry was created by Benjamin Barrett with suggestions from Matthew Stevens.