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Personal pronouns in Japanese
Written by Maciamo

Contrarily to European languages, Japanese has many different pronouns for each person (I, you, he/she, we...). There are particularly lots of translations for 'I' and 'you' denoting different politeness level, degrees of familiarity, gender role and social standing. Learning these personal pronouns is particularily useful to read manga, which make bountiful use of them. Here are some of the most common pronouns.

I" and "We"

  • Watakushi 私 : Most polite and formal version
  • Watashi 私 : most common. Used more by women than men.
  • Atashi あたし : Mostly used by young females. Sounds cute.
  • Atai 私 : Slang version of "Atashi"
  • Washi わし : Mostly used by older men to younger or lower rank people.
  • Uchi うち : Used mostly by women. A neutral version also refers to "us" (family, company, etc.) as opposed to "them" or "you".
  • Jibun 自分 : Neutral. Refers to the "self", so can be use for "I" or "you". "Jibun no" (自分の) means "my" or "your" and "jibun de" (自分で) means "myself" or "youself".
  • Boku 僕 : Common for younger men (sometimes women). Sounds more refine than "ore".
  • Ore 俺 (also "Ora" in dialect) : Used by virile or older men. Not as polite as "watashi".
  • Oresama 俺様 : Arrogant and rude version of "Ore"
  • Orera 俺ら (also "Oira" in dialect) : Plural of "Ore"
  • Onore 己 : Used by men. Sounds arrogant and impolite. Also means "self" or "you" (see "Jibun").
  • Sessha 拙者 : Used by men (formerly samurai). Humble and polite.
  • Ware 我 : Quite formal and polite, but old-fashioned (except plural "wareware", used in a humble way to talk about one's company).
  • Wa(ga) 我(が) : Literary for "watashi". Still used in the meaning of "my" or "our" (eg : "Wagakuni" わが国 = my/our country).
  • Kochitomo こちとも : Slang for "we" or "ourselves", sometimes also "I" and "myself".
  • Wate わて : Kansai dialect for "Watashi".
  • Chin 朕 : Used by emperors or kings.
  • Daikou 乃公 : Literary. Used by men when speaking in an haughty way.
  • Soregasi 某 : Ancient form of "Watakushi".
  • Warawa 妾 : Ancient form of "Watakushi".

"You"

  • Anata 貴方/貴女 : Most usual and polite form.
  • Anta あんた : Informal version of "anata".
  • Kimi 君 : Used by men to talk to younger women or children, or to intimate people.
  • Omae お前 : Used by older or less refined people. Less polite than "anata" and sometimes almost rude.
  • Temee 手前 : A bit rude and aggressive.
  • Kisama 貴様 : Usually rude and including bad feelings.
  • Jibun 自分 : Neutral. Refers to the "self", so can be use for "I" or "you". "Jibun no" (自分の) means "my" or "your" and "jibun de" (自分で) means "myself" or "youself".
  • Onore 己 : Used in a disdainful way.
  • Onushi (onoshi) 御主 : Polite and humble. Used by samurai to talk to people of equal or lower rank. Literally means "master".
  • Nanji (namuchi, nare) 汝 : Literary. Used with intimate people or lower rank people.
  • Onmi 御身 : Literary honorific form meaning "your body".
  • Sochi そち, Sokotomo そのとも, Sonohou その方, Sonota そのた, Konota このた : dated variant of "Anata", all meaning something like "hey there ! They are informal and impersonal."

"He/she/they"

  • Kare/kanojo 彼/彼女 : Most usual and neutral form of "he/she"
  • Koitsu, soitsu, aitsu こいつ、そいつ、あいつ : means "this/that guy"
  • Yatsu 奴 : rude, involve bad feelings

Just add "ra" after any of them to form the plural.

The plural can be form by adding the suffix "-ra" (for pronouns that end in -e or -u) or "-tachi" (for those that end in -i and -a). For example : watashitachi, anatatachi, temeira, karera, aitsura... One exception is "ware", which plural is made by doubling the word ("wareware").

                     


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