What are the personal pronouns of Japanese?

Japanese has a huge variety of personal pronouns, words for "I" and "you". When speaking Japanese, terms which imply familiarity, such as kimi or omae, can sometimes be inappropriate. In practice, Japanese people tend to avoid calling people using these words, preferring to use the name of the person plus a title such as san. See What is the difference between , , and ?.

Here is a list of some of them.

Words for "I":

[In Japanese, these are called ichininshō (一人称).]

I word in rōmaji I word in kanji or kana Gender
(male or female)
asshi あっしF Contraction of watashi.
atai あたいF Not polite.
atakushi あたくしF Contraction of watakushi.
atashi あたしF Contraction of watashi. Feminine and informal.
boku M Boyish, informal. This is also used to mean "you" in some contexts.
chin Used only by the Emperor, the Japanese equivalent of the "Royal We". This is no longer in use.
jibun 自分 M Used in military-style speech.
kochira こちら Literally means "here".
oira おいらM Rural.
ora おらM Used in rural dialects
ore M Informal, usually male, sounds more "tough" than boku.
ore-sama 俺様M Sounds very arrogant. Used very little in real life, but often turns up in comics and cartoons.
sessha 拙者 M Literally means "clumsy person". This was used by the samurai.
temae 手前 This can mean both me and you (see below) as well as "in front of". See also What are some Japanese insults and swear-words?.
uchi うちF Not polite.
wagahai 我輩 M Has pompous connotations. Famous from Natsume Soseki's book wagahai wa neko de aru "I am a cat".
wai わい Osaka dialect
ware M Not polite, although wareware (我々) for "we" is acceptable.
washi わしM Often used by older men
watai わたい Osaka dialect
watakushi MF Formal pronunciation of watashi.
watashi MF Used by men in semi-formal speech and by women in both semi-formal and informal speech, this is a contraction of watakushi.
One's own name F Women and girls may refer to themselves using their own name, minus a title, or with chan. See What is the difference between , , and ?.

Words for "you":

[In Japanese, these are called nininshō (二人称).]

You word in romaji You word in kanji or kana Notes
anata 貴方
貴女 (when addressing women)
Polite, but this word is also used by women to their husbands as a kind of equivalent of "honey" or "darling".
anta あんた An abbreviation of anata, some may consider this over-familiar.
boku This usually means 'I', but it is also used by adults when talking to small boys.
jibun 自分Osaka dialect - not polite
kimi 君, きみ Familiar. The kanji is the same as that of kun. See What is the difference between , , and ?
kisama 貴様, きさま Nowadays this is usually either a literary word or an insult (see What are some Japanese insults and swear-words?). However, naval officers in the Imperial navy referred to each other as kisama.
nanji Often used as a translation of English "thou", for example in translations of the Bible. Some dictionaries list it as namudi.
omae お前, おまえFamiliar.
onushi お主, おぬし Old "samurai" speech, corresponds to sessha for `I'.
otaku お宅, おたく Polite: see also What is an ?
omahan おまはんOsaka dialect version of omae-san.
onore おのれOsaka dialect - not polite.
sochira そちら The "you" equivalent of kochira, it literally means "there", but it is a polite way to refer to others, often used, for example, on the telephone, as in sochira-sama.
sonata そなた
sotchi そっちFamiliar version of sochira.
temae 手前Very rude/familiar: can also be used for `I'. See also What are some Japanese insults and swear-words?.
wagakimi わがきみConnected to waga (my) and kimi, this word often appears in rakugo (Japanese comic story telling).
ware われOsaka dialect - not polite

External links

  • sci.lang.japan FAQ
  • 9. Names
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