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The basics of personal pronouns | Japanese | with audios

In this article, I will explain the basics of personal pronouns in Japanese.

Contents

What is a personal pronoun?

A personal pronoun is a word you use instead of the name of a person.

Features

In Japanese, If the personal pronoun is understood from the context, it is usually omitted. It doesn't change like the English (i.e. "I" and "me") However, we put a particle after the personal pronoun.

チョコ が 好き です 。

I like chocolate.

Words
チョコ
チョコ

chocolate [チョコ is the short form of チョコレート(chocolate).]


好き
好き

like



彼 は 私 を 愛して います 。

He loves me.

Words
愛しています
愛しています

love [verb, The polite expression of "愛している(love)".]



これ は 私 の iPhone です 。

This is my iPhone.

Words
これ
これ

this [subject pronoun, object pronoun]



この iPhone は 私 の です 。

This iPhone is mine.

Words
この
この

this [demonstrative adjective]



List

Singular

EnglishJapanese
First person
Second person
あなた
Third person
Male
Third person
Female
彼女

First person

私(わたし, watashi)

I, me

"" is the most common first-person singular personal pronoun, used mainly by women, but also by men in formal situations.

However, it is rare for boys to use the word "" because children have a strong impression that it is used by girls.

私(わたくし, watakushi)
わたくし

I, me

The word "私(わたくし, watakushi)" uses the same kanji as "私(わたし, watashi)" but is pronounced differently, and is much more polite and firm than "私(わたし, watashi)". Both men and women use it, but it is rare.

僕(ぼく, boku)

I, me

The word "" is used by men and very rarely by women.

Men who use the word "" have the impression of being gentle and reserved. It is mainly used in daily conversation, but it can also be used in formal situations.

In some cases, using "me" can make you seem unreliable and childish.

俺(おれ, ore)

I, me

"" is a word used by men and rarely used by women. It is mainly used in daily conversation and is less appropriate to use informal situations.

Men who use the word "" have the impression that they are cool and strong. It is also used when you want to show off your coolness and strength.

Second person

あなた(anata)
あなた

You

"あなた" has the same meaning as "you" in English, but in Japanese, it is used only in limited situations in daily life because it often abbreviates the personal pronoun and instead refers to the other person by his or her name.

Sometimes a married woman says it to her husband, sometimes an author says it to a reader in a book, sometimes a school teacher says it to a student.

When you say "あなた" in other situations, it tends to be distant.

Third person

He, him

彼女

She, her

Both "" and "彼女" are rarely used as personal pronouns; they are often used as nouns. "" is often used as the meaning of "boyfriend" and "彼女" is used as the meaning of "girlfriend".

Plural

EnglishJapanese
First person
私達
Second person
あなた達
Third person
all-male or
male and female
彼ら
Third person
Female
彼女ら

First person

私達

We, us

If you add "達(たち, tachi)" or "ら(ra)" to the end of a singular word, it becomes plural, and "私達" is one of them. When "" is added, it is mainly used in everyday life, while "" is also used in formal situations.

Second person

あなた達

You

The second-person plural pronoun in Japanese is "あなた達" but it is rarely used. Instead, "みんな" is used. The word "みんな" has the same meaning as the English word "everybody".

みんな

You, everybody, everyone

There are other polite expressions such as "皆さん(みなさん, mina-san)" and "皆様(みなさま, mina-sama)".

皆さん

You, everybody, everyone

皆様

You, everybody, everyone

Third person

彼ら

They, them (all male or male and female)

彼女ら

They, them (female)

彼女達

They, them (female)

When there are only men or men and women, "彼ら" is used, and when there are only women, "彼女ら" is used. It can be used in daily conversation and informal situations, but it is rarely used in everyday life.

Instead, expressions such as "あの人達" and "あの子達" are often used in daily conversation.

あの人達

those people

あの子達

those children