Languages › Japanese Personal Pronouns in Japanese How to Use "I, You, He, She, We, They" in Japanese Share Flipboard Email Print Culture Club. Hulton Archive Japanese Japanese Grammar History & Culture Essential Japanese Vocabulary By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated February 24, 2018 A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. In English, examples of pronouns include "I, they, who, it, this, none" and so on. Pronouns perform a variety of grammatical functions and are thus heavily used is most languages. There are many subtypes of pronouns such as personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and more. Japanese vs English Pronoun Usage The use of Japanese personal pronouns is quite different from English. They are not used as often as their English counterparts, though there are a variety of pronouns in Japanese depending on the gender or the style of speech. If the context is clear, the Japanese prefer not to use the personal pronouns. It is important to learn how to use them, but also important to understand how not to use them. Unlike English, there is no strict rule to have a grammatical subject in a sentence. How to Say "I" Here are the different ways one can say "I" depending on the situation and to whom one is speaking to, whether it be a superior or a close friend. watakushi わたくし --- very formalwatashi わたし --- formalboku (male) 僕, atashi (female) あたし --- informalore (male) 俺 --- very informal How to Say "You" The following are the different ways of saying "you" depending on the circumstances. otaku おたく --- very formalanata あなた --- formalkimi (male) 君 --- informalomae (male) お前, anta あんた--- very informal Japanese Personal Pronoun Usage Among these pronouns, "watashi" and "anata" are the most common. However, as mentioned above, they are often omitted in conversation. When addressing your superior, "anata" is not appropriate and should be avoided. Use the person's name instead. "Anata" is also used by wives when they address their husbands. "Omae" is sometimes used by husbands when addressing their wives, though it sounds a little bit old-fashioned. Third Person Pronouns The pronouns for the third person are "kare (he)" or "kanojo (she)." Rather than using these words, it is preferred to use the person's name or describe them as "ano hito (that person)." It is not necessary to include gender. Here are some sentence examples: Kyou Jon ni aimashita.今日ジョンに会いました。I saw him (John) today.Ano hito o shitte imasu ka.あの人を知っていますか｡Do you know her? Additionally, "kare" or "kanojo" often means a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Here are the terms used in a sentence: Kare ga imasu ka.彼がいますか｡Do you have a boyfriend?Watashi no kanojo wa kangofu desu.私の彼女は看護婦です｡My girlfriend is a nurse. Plural Personal Pronouns To make plurals, a suffix "~ tachi (～達)" is added like "watashi-tachi (we)" or "anata-tachi (you plural)". The suffix "~ tachi" can be added to not only pronouns but to some other nouns referring to people. For example, "kodomo-tachi (子供達)" means "children." For the word "anata," the suffix "~ gata (～方)" is used sometimes to make it plural instead of using "~ tachi." "Anata-gata (あなた方)" is more formal than "anata-tachi." The suffix "~ ra (～ら)" is also used for "kare," such as "karera (they)."