50 Important Japanese Pronouns You Need To Know

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.

If you want to learn Japanese better, it’s best to study these grammar and rules before starting a conversation. Check out this comprehensive lesson regarding the Japanese pronouns. Let’s go!

What Are Japanese Pronouns?

Pronouns are used as a replacement for nouns, such as people, animals, and things, such as in a sentence. Using pronouns makes your Japanese sentence structure shorter and clearer in terms of meaning. Thanks to pronouns, you can avoid the 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.

Personal Pronouns In Japanese

Apart from the grammar rules that you’ll find in Japanese nouns, there are dozens of personal pronouns in Japanese to be careful with. 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
おれorevery informalmale

Second Person Japanese Pronouns

KanjiHiraganaRomajiLevel of formalityGender
貴方あなたanataformal / informalboth
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.



Possessive Pronouns In Japanese

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

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.

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.
それら / あれらsore-ra / are-rathose
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!

 どの / どれdono / dorewhich
誰にだれにdare niwhom
誰のだれのdare nowhose


Japanese Indefinite Pronouns

In Japanese grammar, ‘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 …).

 どこでもdoko demoeverywhere
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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