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50 Important Japanese Pronouns You Need To Know

March 7, 2022

Pronouns are used as a replacement to the nouns, such as people, animals, and things, in a sentence. Using pronouns makes your sentences shorter and clearer in terms of meaning. Thanks to pronouns, you can avoid repetitive usage of particular nouns in a sentence. In this article, we will talk about Japanese pronouns, but if we have to make it clear, here are the pronoun types in English:

Possessive pronoun (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs)

Personal pronoun (I, you, she, he, it, we, they, me, us, them)

Relative pronoun (who, whom, which, what, that)

Reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself, itself, herself, himself, ourselves, themselves)

Indefinite pronoun (some, somebody, anyone, anywhere, nothing, everybody)

Demonstrative pronoun (this, that, these, those)

Interrogative pronoun (who, whom, what, which, whose)

Reciprocal pronoun (each other, one another)

When it comes to the Japanese pronouns, they are very different from those in English because Japanese pronouns can be omitted from a sentence when they are implied through the context and that wouldn't cause any misunderstanding between speakers.

There are many different variations of Japanese personal pronouns that could be translated as 'I/me' and 'you' however, not all of them are commonly used in daily life. Each Japanese pronoun variation shows the different characteristics of the speaker including gender, age, social status, level of respect, and the relationship with the person they are talking to. These various pronouns come from Japanese culture since they value respect, seniority, and social order in society.

 

Personal Pronouns In Japanese

There are dozens of personal pronouns in Japanese however, most of them aren’t commonly used so we will introduce the most frequently used Japanese personal pronouns in this post.

First Person Japanese Pronouns

KanjiHiraganaRomajiLevel of formalityGender
わたくしwatakushivery formalboth
わたしwatashiformal / informalboth
 あたしatashiinformalfemale
ぼくbokuinformalmale
おれorevery informalmale

Second Person Japanese Pronouns

KanjiHiraganaRomajiLevel of formalityGender
貴方あなたanataformal / informalboth
きみkimiinformalboth
お前おまえomaevery informalmale
 あんたantavery informalboth
貴様きさまkisamavery rude and hostileboth

Third Person Japanese Pronouns

KanjiHiraganaRomajiLevel of FormalityGender
かれkareformal / informalhe
彼女かのじょkanojoformal / informalshe

Native Japanese people usually prefer to use the person’s name, or to describe them as あの人 (ano hito), meaning 'that person' this way you don't have to indicate gender.

Fun Fact: Also, 彼 (kare) means boyfriend, and 彼女 (kanojo) means girlfriend.

1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Plural Form

In order to make Japanese personal pronouns plural, a suffix is added after them.

The suffix can be 達 (-tachi ), 方 (-gata), or ら (-ra), depending on which word comes before it.

KanjiRomajiMeaning
私達watashi-tachiWe
貴方達anata-tachiYou
彼らkare-raThey
彼女らkanojo-raThey

 

Possessive Pronouns In Japanese

In order to make Japanese possessive pronouns, add the suffix の (no) to the pronouns.

KanjiRomajiMeaning
私のwatashi nomine
貴方のanata noyours
彼のkare nohis
彼女のkanojo nohers
私達のwatashi-tachi noours
彼らのkare-ra notheirs

 

Reflective Pronouns

In order to make Japanese reflexive pronouns or intensive forms, add the suffix 自身 (jishin) to the pronouns.

KanjiRomajiMeaning
私自身watashi jishinmyself
貴自身anata jishinyourself
彼自身kare jishinhimself
彼女自身kanojo jishinherself
私達自身watashi-tachi jishinourselves
彼ら自身kare-ra jishinthemselves

 

Japanese Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns in Japanese are always written in hiragana. It is a relief that Japanese demonstrative pronouns are easy to remember since they are categorized in groups depending on their level of distance from the speaker or listener. Words that begin with:

  • こ (ko-) indicate something close to the speaker.
  • そ (so-) indicate some distance from the speaker or something close to the listener.
  • あ (a-) indicate a far distance.
HiraganaRomajiMeaning
これkorethis
それsoreit
あれarethat
これらkore-rathese
それら / あれらsore-ra / are-rathose
ここkokohere
そこsokothere
あそこasokoover there

 

Japanese Interrogative Pronouns

Most of the Japanese interrogative pronouns begin with ど (do-) or だ (da-). Also, we have a detailed post about Japanese question words you can check this out!

KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
なにnaniwhat
 どの / どれdono / dorewhich
だれdarewho
誰にだれにdare niwhom
誰のだれのdare nowhose
 いつitsuwhen
 なぜnazewhy

 

Japanese Indefinite Pronouns

In the Japanese language, 'everyone/everybody' and 'anyone/anybody' is both translated as 誰でも (dare demo) in most contexts.

In a negative sentence using indefinite pronouns such as 'no one/nobody,' 'nowhere,' and 'nothing,' a negative form is usually formed with も…ない (...mo…nai …).

KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
みんなminnaeveryone
 どこでもdoko demoeverywhere
全てすべてsubeteeverything
誰かだれかdare kasomeone
 どこかdoko kasomewhere
何かなにかnani kasomething
誰も…ないだれも…ないdare mo…naino one / nobody
 どこにも…ないdoko ni mo…nainowhere
何も…ないなにも…ないnani mo…nainothing
誰でもだれでもdare demoanyone / anybody
 どこでもdoko demoanywhere
何でもなんでもnan demoanything

 

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