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Japanese Pronouns

Japanese Pronouns
on March 27, 2017

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

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