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”
|私||わたし||watashi||moderate||males and females|
|私||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|
|家, 内||うち||uchi||informal||females (mostly)|
Japanese pronouns that mean “you”
|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|
|君||きみ||kimi||informal||males and females|
|貴下||きか||kika||informal||males and females (typically younger)|
|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”
|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|
|奴||やつ||yatsu||informal||males and females|
Japanese pronouns that mean “we”
|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”
|彼等||かれら||kare-ra||moderate||males and females|
Next you can learn about Japanese adjectives, here.