Is あなた(=anata) OK to use? 2nd-person pronouns +nicknames

September 5, 2011 in Beginners, Grammar


= Maggie Sensei no kao manmaru dane.

= Your face is really round, Miss Maggie!


= Anta ni iwaretaku nai wayo!

= Look who’s talking!

Hello everyone!

I made a lesson on First-person singular pronoun lesson last month 私+自分(=watashi + jibun) first person pronoun lesson, and I promised you that I would make a lesson on second personal-pronouns and how to address other people.

You might say, “I know that already! “you” is あなた(= anata), right?”

Well, we’ll see!

First let’s take a look at the picture above :


= Maggie Sensei no kao manmaru dane.

= Your face is really round, Miss Maggie!

:rrrr: Note : まんまる = 真ん丸 = manmaru = round (an emphasizing form of = maru = round)


= Anta ni iwaretaku nai wayo!

= Look who’s talking!

:rrrr: Note : This is a kind of fun set phrase when you talk back to someone accusing you even though they are the same way.

:rrrr: Look who’s talking, You should talk, implying “You are as bad as me.”

〜わよ(=wayo) ending is used by women.

Variation :

Ex. あなたに言われたくない

= Anata ni iwaretakunai.

Ex. お前にそんなこと言われたくないわ!(male speech)

=Omae ni sonnakoto iwaretaku naiwa.

Ex. 自分だってそうじゃない(female speech)

= Jibun datte soujanai!

= You,too!

Ex. 自分こそ!

= Jibun koso!

= You, too!


Now, back to あなた(= anata), you must have learned that, “you” is あなた (= anata) as well as these kinds of sentences, right?

Ex. あなたは日本人ですか?

= Anata wa nihonjin desu ka?

= Are you Japanese?

Ex. あなたは英語が話せますか?

= Anata wa eigo ga hanasemasu ka?

= Do you speak English?

Ex. あなたは料理が上手ですね。

= Anata wa ryōri ga jōzu desu ne.

= You are a good cook!

Ex. この時計をあなたにあげます。

= Kono tokei wo anata ni agemasu.

= I will give you this watch.

Ex. あなたがマギー先生ですか?

= Anataga Maggie sensei desu ka?

= Are you Maggie Sensei?


= Anata no namae wa nan desu ka?

= What is your name?

Ex. あなたはどこに住んでいますか?

= Anata wa doko ni sunde imasu ka?

= Where do you live?


!to right! Note: The kanji for あなた is 貴方 or 彼方.

If you want to distinguish the sex, you write 貴女 for women and 貴男= anata for men.

Not just students of Japanese but most Japanese people would translate “you” as あなた(=anata) in the above example sentences.

That’s right. “You” is あなた(= anata). And you might have learned あなた(= anata) is more polite than (=kimi) or お前 (=omae). If you don’t know those words yet, don’t worry. I’ll be explaining those in a minute.

:i: Now I have to tell you some bad news today. :-|

There are situations where you may not want to use あなた(=anata)

You have to be careful when you use あなた(= anata) especially when you talk to people in superior positions (at work or in another situation) or older people. It could sound condescending or cold and it may offend someone.

I can hear you saying “What!? It can’t be. It is clearly said in my textbook that “you” is “あなた“(= anata) and I have been using あなた(=anata) all the time and NOBODY has corrected me!”

It is perfectly OK to use あなた(= anata) when you study the Japanese language. Writing sentences, translation, etc. I don’t think I have ever corrected anyone who uses あなた(= anata) when they translate sentences. And I rarely see any Japanese people telling non-natives not to use あなた(= anata) to address them. When Japanese people see you are studying Japanese, it won’t bother them at all. But as your Japanese gets more fluent, you should start to learn about the nuances of this pronoun.

!kirakira! First I will show you in what situations people are most likely to use あなた(=anata) in the real world.

* General questions /statement (both verbally and written form)

When you are asking people general questions, it is perfectly OK to use あなた(=anata)

Ex. Q : あなたの好きな色は何ですか?

= Q. Anata no sukina iro wa nan desu ka?

= Q : What is your favorite color?

Ex. 今、あなたに必要なのは自分との時間を作ることです。

= Ima anata ni hitsuyō nano wa jibun tono jikan wo tsukuru koto desu.

=What you need right now is to make a time for yourself.


*Wives often use あなた(=anata) when they call their husbands.:

It can even be considered sexy depending on how you deliver the lines.

Ex. あなた!行ってらっしゃい!

= Anata itterasshai!

= Have a nice day, honey. (When they see their husband off to work at the front doors of their homes.)

Note : We don’t have many endearments in Japanese. あなた(=anata) is not an equivalent word for honey or sweetheart but if you say with a sweet voice, it is considered to be an endearment in our own way.

*When you want to make yourself sound more formal or serious. For example when you tell someone how much you love them.:

Ex. あなたが好きです。

= Anata ga suki desu.

= I like (love) you.

Ex. あなたを愛しています。

= Anata wo aishite imasu.

= I love you.

Note: Men can also use あなた (=anata ) both verbally or in a written form.

* When you talk to someone inferior or younger:

•Older people to younger people

•Supervisors to subordinates.

Teachers to students

Parents to children

That means, you should avoid using あなた(=anata) when you talk to older people or your boss, clients or teachers.

Even with someone the same age, using あなた (=anata), would feel a bit awkward. People around me almost NEVER refer to me as あなた(=anata) and vice versa. Maybe it is because it sounds a little cold.

Not all Japanese people get annoyed when they are called あなた(=anata) by people they don’t know, and they certainly won’t make a big deal if it’s a foreigner, especially a beginner trying to speak Japanese. But just for your information, please learn the following.


:maggie-small: So, if we don’t use あなた(=anata) for the second-personal, what do we use?


!yflower! Just skip the second-pronoun. As I mentioned in my other lessons, we often skip personal-pronouns in Japanese.

Ex. どこにお住まいですか?(Polite)

= Doko ni osumai desuka?

= Where do you live?

Ex. どこに住んでるの?(casual)

=Doko ni sunderu no?

= Where do you live?

Ex. お名前は何とおっしゃるのですか?(polite)

= Onamae wa nanto ossharu no desuka?

= What is your name?

Ex. 名前は何ていうの?(casual)

= Namae wa nante iu no?

= What is your name?

:ii: In business situations : Use one’s job title or one’s family name with their job title.

Ex. 部長、この書類にサインをして頂けますか?

= Buchou, kono shorui ni sain wo shite itadakemasu ka?

= (Talking to a manager) Could you sign this document, please?

Ex. 山田課長、今日、会議は4時から始まります。

= Yamada Kachou, Kyou no kaigi wa yoji kara hajimarimasu.

= (Talking to a section chief) Mr. Yamada, the meeting will start at 4:00 today.

Ex. マギー先生、かわいい! :)

= Maggie sensei kawaii!

= You are so cute, Maggie- sensei

:kkk: Between friends: We refer each other by name.

If you are not still so close to that person, you use


:rrrr: family name + さん(=san)

Ex. 加藤さん、最近忙しそうですね。

= Katou san saikin isogashisō desune.

=You look busy lately, Miss/Mrs./Miss Kato.


:w: When we get a little bit closer to that person — especially men — we often add the suffix (=kun) to their names.

Ex. 鈴木君も明日一緒に飲みに行かない?

= Suzuki-kun mo ashita ssho ni nomi ni ikanai?

= Do you want to go out for a drink tomorrow, too, Suzuki?

:jjj: Call someone by their first name + さん(=san)

Ex. マギーさん、忙しそうですね。

= Maggie san isogashisoudesune.

= You look busy, Maggie.

Still distant but closer than using their family name.


:mm: Call someone (children or young people) by their first name + ちゃん ( = chan) or (= kun)

Ex. 誠君、宿題やった?

= Makoto kun shukudai yatta?

= Did you do your homework, Makoto?

Ex. これ、マギーちゃんにあげる!

= Kore Maggie chan ni ageru!

= This is for you, Maggie!


:kk: Call someone without their titles, さん(=san), ちゃん(=chan), (=kun). (This is called 呼び捨て= yobisute See my mini lesson)

:rrrr: Calling someone with just their family name:

(between friends – male talk but sometimes girls call this way as well.)

Ex. おい、木村、教科書貸して!

= Oi Kimura, kyōkasho kashite!

= Hey, Kimura, lend me a textbook!

(A male teacher is talking to his student.)

Ex. 森本!今日はしっかり勉強して来たか?(male talk/ rough)

= Morimoto! Kyō wa shikkari benkyō shitekita ka?

= Hey Morimoto! Did you study hard and prepared for class today?


:rrrr: Calling someone with just their first name or a part of their first name.:

Ex. 雅紀、一緒にご飯食べよ!

= Masaki, issho ni gohan tabeyo!

= Let’s eat together, Masaki!

Ex. 美香その服似合ってるね。

= Mika sono fuku niatterune.

= Mika, you look good in that outfit!

Usually calling each other by just their first name implies a close relationship or friendship.

So if you observe a couple and you can tell how close they are by listening their conversation and how they call one other.

For example, if you they call each other by their family names and さん(=san), then they are not that close to each other yet.

:jjj: Call someone by their nickname.


Also close friends call each other by their nicknames.

:rrrr: ニックネーム(=nikkuneimu)、渾名(=adana)、愛称(=aishou)

Nicknames can be created by using part of one’s first name or last name.

Here are some examples including celebrities’ nicknames.

:yy: From one’s first name ;

Ex. あきこ / あつこ(= Akiko / Atsuko) →アッコ (=Akko)

Ex. まさこ(=Masako) →マチャコ (= Machako)

Ex. まさみ(=Masami) →マチャミ(=Machami)

Ex. みき(=Miki) →ミキティー(=Mikitii)

Ex. ゆうこ(=Yuuko) →ユウコリン(=Yuukorin)

Ex. まさひろ(=Masahiro) →マー君(=Maakun)

!candy! From one’s family name :

Ex. 二ノ宮(=Ninomiya) →ニノ(=Nino)

Ex. 新垣(=Aragaki) →ガッキー(=Gakki)

Ex. 山下(=Yamashita) →ヤマP (=Yama pii)

Ex. 山下(=Yamashita) / 山本(=Yamamoto) etc.→ヤマちゃん(=Yamachan)

Ex. 石橋(=Ishibashi) →イシちゃん(=Ishi chan)

Ex. 土田 (= Tsuchida) →ツッティー(= Tsucchii)

:yy: Combination from one’s first name and family :

Ex. 遠藤久美(=Endou Kumi) →エンクミ(=Enkumi)

Ex. 後藤真希(=Gotou Maki)→ゴマキ(=Gomaki)


Note : Sometimes nicknames have nothing to do with your real names.

Now I told you あなた(=anata) is politer than other second pronouns such as

:rrrr: あんた(=annta), (=kimi) or お前(=omae)

(=kimi) is often used by men . (But there are girls who use it as well.)

You use it with someone who is the same age, younger or someone who is an inferior.

For example a boss uses it when they talk to his subordinates or someone equal to his position.

Ex. 君の部署に入ってきた新人どう?

= Kimi no busho ni haitte kita shinjin dō?

= How is the freshman doing in your department?


You may hear a lot of J-pop songs using (=kimi)


= Kimi no kimochi ga wakaranai.

= I don’t know what you are thinking about.

Ex. 君が好きだ.

= Kimi ga sukida.

= I love you.

Ex. 君に会いたい.

= Kimini aitai.

= I want to see you.

It depends on the person but personally if my male friend started to call me (= kimi), (unless he is my type :) , I would get annoyed.

Although it sounds much better than あんた(=anta) or お前 (=omae), you should avoid using it with someone older than you or your boss, etc.


あんた(=anta) is much more casual way to say “you“. I think it is used more in the Kansai or Chubi area.

Use it with someone who is REALLY close to you.


お前 (=omae)

お前(=omae) is male speech and it is considered to be very rude to use. And it is often used in a derogatory way or when you fight.

Ex. お前はあっちへ行ってろ!

= Omae wa acchi e ittero!

= Go away! (Get lost!)

Ex. お前の名前は何だ?

= Omae no namae wa nan da?

= What is your name? (rude/ rough)

Ex. お前にお前って言われる筋合いはない!

= Omae ni omaette iwareru sujiai wa nai!

= I don’t deserved to be called “Omae” from a person like you! / You have no right to call me “omae”.

Yes, it is rude and it is used mainly by rough men. “Sophisticated” people should definitely avoid using it.

However, occasionally it is used in a friendly manner.

a father to their children:

Ex. 「お前も大きくなったな。」(male speech)

= Omae mo ookiku nattana.

= You have grown up!


a husband to his wife:

Ex. 「お前にはいつも苦労をさせたな。」(male speech)

= Omaenwa itsumo kurou wo sasetana.

= I’ve always troubled you.

a man/ a woman/ children to their pets :

Ex. 「お前はかわいいなあ〜!」

= Omae wa kawaiinaa!

= You are so cute!


a teacher to his student:

Ex. 「お前のこと先生はいつも応援しているからな!」(male speech)

= Omae no koto sensei wa itsumo ōen shite iru karana!

= I will always support you!

Finally I will show you the plural forms,

!star! Plural forms :

*あなた (=anata) →あなた達 (=anatatachi) →more polite あなた方 (=anata gata)

*あんた(=anta)→あんた達 (=anta tachi)→more informal あんたら (=antara)

* (=kimi)→君達 (=kimitachi)→more informal 君ら (=kimira)

*お前 (=omae)→お前達(=omaetachi) →more rough / rude お前ら(=omaera)

I hope this lesson helps you understand why sometimes our Japanese friends, your friends’ parents , your boss or teachers have an awkward face if you’ve continued to address them with あなた (=anata)


マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

Whew…. I wonder who would spend this much time to explain “you” in Japanese.

But I really care about all the visitors on this site and want you to improve your Japanese.

がんばってね!= Ganbattene! = Study hard!