Japanese Pronouns

By OptiLingo

Japanese pronouns may be omitted from sentences. Some say this is in contrast to English, but there are many times in everyday speech where this happens in English. For example: Wanna go? Clearly, “you” is inferred. Japanese operates similarly, but the omission of pronouns is not reserved for informal speech.

On the one hand, this simplifies Japanese- the ability to omit Japanese pronouns makes things simpler, right? Well, no, because on the other hand, there are literally dozens of words one can use for the pronouns “I” or “me”, and even more Japanese pronouns that can be translated as “you”.

In most cases, the Japanese pronoun used will vary depending on the age, gender and social status of the speaker, and his / her relationship to the person being addressed.

Below are some of the more common Japanese pronouns. This list is by no means exhaustive, and Japanese pronouns used out of contempt or disrespect have been deliberately omitted.

Japanese pronouns that mean “I” or “me”

Kanji Hiragana Romaji Formality Applies to
わたし watashi moderate males and females
わたくし watakushi very formal males and females
我, 吾 われ ware very formal males and females
我が わが waga very formal males and females
おれ ore informal males
ぼく boku informal males
わし washi moderate males (mostly)
自分 じぶん jibun moderate males (mostly)
家, 内 うち uchi informal females (mostly)
小生 しょうせい shōsei formal males

Japanese pronouns that mean “you”

Kanji Hiragana Romaji Formality Applies to
貴方, 貴男, 貴女 あなた anata moderate males and females
お宅, 御宅 おたく otaku formal males and females
お前 おまえ omae very informal males and females
きみ kimi informal males and females
貴下 きか kika informal males and females (typically younger)
貴官 きかん kikan very formal both
御社 おんしゃ on-sha formal males and females
貴社 きしゃ ki-sha formal males and females

 

Japanese pronouns that mean “he” or “she”

Kanji Hiragana Romaji Formality Applies to
あの方 あのかた ano kata very formal males and females
あの人 あのひと ano hito moderate males and females
やつ yatsu informal males and females
かれ kare moderate males
彼女 かのじょ kanojo moderate females

Japanese pronouns that mean “we”

Kanji Hiragana Romaji Formality Applies to
我々 われわれ ware-ware formal males and females
我等 われら ware-ra informal males and females
弊社 へいしゃ hei-sha formal males and females
我が社 わがしゃ waga-sha formal males and females

Japanese pronouns that mean “they”

Kanji Hiragana Romaji Formality Applies to
彼等 かれら kare-ra moderate males and females

Next you can learn about Japanese adjectives, here.