Japanese

The basics of personal pronouns

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

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.

私はチョコが好きです

ちょこ が すき です 。

choko ga suki desu .

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I like chocolate.

Words (Touch to open)
チョコ

チョコ

ちょこ

choko

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


好き

好き

すき

suki

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like



彼は私を愛しています。

かれ は わたし を あいして います 。

kare wa watashi o ai-shite imasu .

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He loves me.

Words (Touch to open)
愛しています

愛しています

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



これは私のiPhoneです。

これ は わたし の あいふぉん です 。

kore wa watashi no ai-fuon desu .

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This is my iPhone.

Words (Touch to open)
これ

これ

これ

kore

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this [subject pronoun, object pronoun]



このiPhoneは私のです。

この あいふぉん は わたし の です 。

kono ai-fuon wa watashi no desu .

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This iPhone is mine.

Words (Touch to open)
この

この

この

kono

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this [demonstrative adjective]



List

Singular

EnglishJapanese
First person

わたし

watashi

Second person

あなた

あなた

anata

Third person
Male

かれ

kare

Third person
Female

彼女

かのじょ

kanojo

First person

私(わたし, watashi)

わたし

watashi

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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

watakushi

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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)

ぼく

boku

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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)

おれ

ore

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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

あなた

anata

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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

かれ

kare

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He, him

彼女

かのじょ

kanojo

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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

わたしたち

watashi-tachi

Second person

あなた達

あなたたち

anata-tachi

Third person
all-male or
male and female

彼ら

かれら

kare-ra

Third person
Female

彼女ら

かのじょら

kanojo-ra

First person

私達

わたしたち

watashi-tachi

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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

あなたたち

anata-tachi

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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

みんな

min'na

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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

みなさん

mina-san

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You, everybody, everyone

皆様

みなさま

mina-sama

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You, everybody, everyone

Third person

彼ら

かれら

kare-ra

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They, them (all male or male and female)

彼女ら

かのじょら

kanojo-ra

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They, them (female)

彼女達

かのじょたち

kanojo-tachi

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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

あのひとたち

ano-hito-tachi

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those people

あの子達

あのこたち

ano-ko-tachi

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those children