Personal Pronouns in Japanese

learn more about the personal pronouns in Japanese!

First of all, the Japanese love hierarchies and highly value this sort of thing. Because of that, the Japanese language has many words of the same meaning with uses in completely different situations. Thus, depending on the position, social position, degree of kinship or friendship, it is common to use certain words that cannot be used in other situations.

Another important factor to consider for anyone wishing to learn Japanese is the differences in speech and words used by men and women. As you learn Japanese, we will come across expressions, pronunciations and constructions that a man should never use to avoid delicate and effeminate characteristics, especially in the use of personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns in Japanese – the first person singular

This was my first shock when I started learning Japanese. In most languages there is only one word to represent the first person personal pronoun. In the Japanese language, there are several. Also, it's good to know that they vary according to the formality and gender of people. Let's see how it is?

わたくし - I

I cannot say whether this Japanese personal pronoun is used by men or women. I believe for both of them. But it is used in situations of extreme formality. the plural of わたくし can be so much わたくしども(us) how much わたくしたち(we).

- I

It's a little less formal than わたくし. Initially, it was used by both men and women, but today its use is predominantly restricted to women. men can use  in cases of greater formality, but I have seen teachers mention that the indiscriminate use of  it can generate a trait that is too effeminate for men. Remember that  can also appear written in hiragana only, like わたし.

the plural of  Can be 私たち(us) or われわれ(we). Despite that, I confess that I've never seen anyone use われわれ.

 and あたし - I

These are two informal pronouns.  is used by men and あたし is used by women. your plurals are 僕たち(we), 僕ら(we), あたしたち(us) and あたしら(we). Normally  is used in conversations with classmates at school or college, while women use あたし when they are talking to a boyfriend or people very close.

- I

 is a pronoun used exclusively by men. Like this  is often used in conversations with friends, whether at school or college, however it is much more informal than . its plurals are 俺たち(us) and 俺ら(we).

When talking to friends feel free to use , but when talking to the father of a friend, a teacher or someone of a more important and respectful level, it's better to use .

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Personal pronouns in Japanese - The second person singular

あなた - You

This is the most formal way of referring to someone as “you”. the plural of あなた can be so much あなたがた(you) how much あなたたち(you). Despite that, あなたたち is the most used expression.

- You

is a more informal expression that あなた and your plural can be either 君たち(you) how much 君ら(you).

お前 and あんた - You

The first time I heard the word あんた, was in the anime Full Metal Panic. Then I researched it and found out that women use this pronoun when they are talking to friends. Already お前, is a predominantly masculine pronoun. So much お前 how much あんた they are completely informal expressions.

the plurals of お前 can be お前たち(you) or お前ら(you). And the plurals of あんたthey are あんたたち(you) and あんたら(you).

Personal Pronouns in Japanese – The Third Person

- He

This pronoun is used when we are referring to a male. can be used by both men and women and its plurals can be 彼ら(they) or 彼たち(they).

彼女 - Is it over there

This pronoun is used when we are referring to a female. 彼女can be used by both men and women and its plurals can be 彼女ら(they) or 彼女たち(they).

note that 彼女 is a Japanese personal pronoun formed by composition. In the case in 彼女, we have the kanji  followed by kanji  , forming a “feminine he”, that is, “she”.

The Japanese language is full of these terms, where we can discover the meaning of a word from the meaning of the kanji used in its composition.

Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji, copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice , a new window will open where you can view the printable file and practice Japanese calligraphy by covering the gray symbols and then trying to write yourself. Just print and practice.