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


= 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  丸 = 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 君  ( = kimi) or お前   ( = omae). If you don’t know those words yet, don’t worry. I’ll be explaining those in a minute.

!star! 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.

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 君  ( = 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 君   ( = 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) )

: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  ( =I shibashi) →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), 君   ( = kimi) or お前  ( = omae)

君  ( = 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 君  ( = kimi)

Ex. 君の気持がわからない.

= 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 君  ( = 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)

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)

*君  ( = 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!

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  1. Hi Maggie Sensei, what form is the verb iku in this sentence?


    Is it imperative? I’m not sure. Is there a lesson where you cover this?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Jimmi

      Yes, it is an imperative form
      行っていろ→行っていろ→(sometimes you drop い) 行ってろ
      Ex.やっている doing something →やっていろ→やってろ 

      I covered the form a little in this lesson.
      Male speech lesson Click here

      1. Thank you for the quick reply!

        So are there two different imperative verb conjugations in Japanese then? Because on, I’ve noticed that they list 行け (affirmative) and 行くな (negative) as the imperative forms of 行く.

        1. The imperative form of 行く is 行け
          The imperative form of 行っている is 行っていろ
          So if the verb is compound verb, you make an imperative form with the second verb

          Other example
          行っておく →行っておけ

          1. Ah, I get it now. I shouldn’t have been treating 行く the same as 行っている. Silly me!

            Thank you once again.

  2. Maggie-sensei

    Thank you for this lesson!
    I have been learning Japanese on and off for years and always felt uncomfortable withあなた。

    My question is : how do you address someone you don’t know at all ?
    If you don’t know the name, title, position…

    For example, if you meet someone and they ask you what your job is ; how would you say “and you ?” just ”あなたは?”
    or if you find something and ask the person near to the objet ” is this yours” woudl you say “これは、あなたのですか?”


    1. Hi,François

      If you don’t know the name, just skip the subject,
      What is your name? お名前は?
      What do you do? お仕事は何をされているのですか? / お仕事は?

      And instead of saying “あなたは?” you repeat the question (or a part of the question) usually pointing the person with your hand (palm up)

    2. Hi Maggie-sensei,
      I want to know more the use of ‘anata’ between husband and wife,
      is it only applies when ‘anata’ used as a calling from the wife?
      Is the nuance of intimacy (maried couple) lose when ‘anata’ is in other forms like ‘anata-wa’ or ‘anata-no’?

      1. Hi hana

        The one I introduced as wife’s speech is kind of typical/stereotyped ones that you hear in a drama/anime.
        Sometimes people jokingly say that with sweet and sexy voice in an exaggerate way.
        Technically あなた is a gender free word so both husband and wife can use.
        And it is not just for a married couple.

  3. Hello, Maggie!!

    I know this post is fairly old but I hope it’s still okay to ask questions?
    I seem to remember reading somewhere that あんた is used mainly by women, do you know if this is correct?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Lune,
      You can ask questions for all my lessons.
      It doesn’t matter how old they are. :)
      あんた is for both men and women. It is fairly casual and it could sound pretty rude to many situations so be careful when to use.

  4. 先生、いつもありがとうございます!


    1. @リン



  5. i wonder if husbands refer to their wives or fathers to their children as きみ?or if family members are using it to each other as well? :)) and i wonder how fine or okay it is to refer to your wife as おまえ lol

    1. @yol

      Yes. There are husbands who refer to their wife as きみ. But usually fathers call their children with their name or お兄ちゃん、お姉ちゃん、if they are older brother/sister.
      It depends on the family but usually husbands refer to their wife お母さん in front of children.
      (I mentioned it in my family related lessons.)

      Though it sounds pretty blunt, there are affectionate husbands or boyfriends who call their wife お前

      1. ohh and does that apply to when you’re referring to your children too? im talking about おまえ here ^_^

  6. A Japanese friend calls me always from my name, without the -kun or -san (she used it before, but not now), what that means, and what should I do? D:

    1. @Alex

      Hello Alex,
      She calls you with your first name and drops -kun and -san because she feels close to you. Using san is too formal between friends.
      Or she is trying to adjust to your culture, calling each other with one’s first name.

  7. Seconding songbanana – it’s a mark of progress when people stop using 2nd person pronouns in Japanese. It painfully grates on the ears. Next to go is 1st person.

    “Anata” just sounds rude or crude to my ears. One notch above kisama.

    Just stop using pronouns and learn to use particles and verb endings – that’s where the secret sauce is.

  8. Although it is preferable to refer to someone by their name or title, searching around, I have found some possibilities for second-person pronouns that could be used polite:

    あなた様 (anata-sama)
    お宅様 (otaku-sama)

    For example, one possibility of phrasing Ella’s question of how to say


    Might be

    お宅様のおっしゃる通りですか? (or お宅様のおっしゃる通りでございますか?)

    And どちらさま (dochira-sama) could be used for asking for names:


    Of course, there’s a billion ways of asking for a person’s name politely, all with different nuances and levels of politeness, but this is one of them…

    … I think (I’m fairly sure, but I have only begun to explore the complexities of polite Japanese).

    1. @Tosiaki

      Hello Tosiaki!

      あなた様 is not so common. You may hear that in old samurai drama or when you talk to someone sarcastically because it sounds overly polite.
      Compared to あなた様、we hear お宅様 more. Still it is not considered to be a formal way to address people.

      お宅様のおっしゃる通りですか? (or お宅様のおっしゃる通りでございますか?)
      I think you meant affirmative sentence not a question. It sounds strange in question.
      But I would just say おっしゃる通りです

  9. Christ, I’ve been using kimi with all the girls I talk to. Thankfully they seem pretty into me and probably give me a huge free pass for being a foreigner, but I feel really dumb right now.

    I have to say, the single most unnatural-feeling thing about Japanese is calling someone by their name in a conversation, which is why I avoid it. With girls, because I thought kimi was friendly, yet slightly polite, I’ve been using that. No idea it could come off as snobbish…

    I have no idea if you still go back and answer these questions considering it’s a pretty old article by now, but if you do; if a person tells me that I can use their name without an honorific (呼ぶ捨てでもいい, as they put it) d’you think that’s a free pass to call them -chan? Or is that too assuming? I feel like -chan is kinda sexist to use unless you know the person really well. Wrong?

    Also, when you talk about “same age” – in Japanese is this super literal? To me same age, unless you’re in school or a work environment, would mean +/- a couple of years, but I’m still new to Japanese. I feel like I’m straddling the line for what I can get away with though, because I can hold a conversation unless we go into deeper subjects, in which case I usually start describing stuff in roundabout ways because I don’t know the word. No English needed, which I’m happy about, but I don’t think not knowing the basic honorific stuff flies at this point.

    1. @Duder

      I’m in vacation right now so I can’t give you a long reply at the moment but the best way to decide how to call your friends is to ask how they want you to call them.
      1)何て呼べばいい?(more formal どうやって呼べばいいですか?)
      3) 呼び捨てでもいい?
      In my opinion, if somoeone keeps calling me with “君” or “あなた”, it could be annoying.
      ちゃん is not sexist but it may sound childish. It depends on the age but since it sounds cute, many girls like to be called with “chan” and if you get closer to that person, yobisute gives even closer feeling. But as you said, if you are not so close to that person, it will be awkward.
      “The same age”: It is not just the age difference. Even if you have the same age, if you don’t know the person well, it is always safer to be formal at the beginning and change to the casual form little by little.
      Japanese people also have difficulty how to address each other when we meet for the first time.

      1. Thanks for the quick answer! It feels a little awkward asking someone how to address them, but I suppose I’ll get used to it.

        Thanks again!

  10. こんにちは、マギー先生!

    I find your lessons incredibly helpful. I was wondering if it’s okay to use あなた in a fan letter? Also I was wondering how to structure a fan letter in Japanese :)

    1. @Catlin

      Hi Catlin
      Ummm in a fan letter, it’s probably OK to use あなた. But I would still use their name.
      There is no specific structure for a fan letter but for example,

      こんにちは!(or はじめまして!)
      私は〜の大ファンです。(I am a huge fan of yours.)
      私は**に住む〜の大ファンです。(I am a huge fan of yours who lives in **) *


      ~の音楽はすばらしいです。= Your music is wonderful.

      and to finish the letter
      How’s that?

  11. Ex.君の気持がわからない.
    = Kimi no kimochi ga wakaranai.
    = I don’t know what you are thinking about.




    I associated 気持 with feeling.

    I did not know 気持 had something to do with thinking.



    1. @glenn

      Ah, OK, I translated as “what you are thinking about” but it could be also translated as “how you feel about me”

      “to think” in Japanese is 考える or 思う.
      考える is either to think with your brain or your heart and 思う is often done with your heart. And when you are talking about one’s feelings=気持, we “think” with your heart not your brain.
      Thus even though the translation is “thinking” it doesn’t mean your logical thinking but your feelings.

      1. はい、分かった。

        僕 は間違えました。


        1. @glenn

          誰も笑いませんよ。 !happyface! とってもいい質問だと思います。またいつでもコメント下さいね。

  12. こんにちは先生!

    I always assumed 君(kimi) is for men calling women, and 君(kun) is for women calling men. I suppose a man can also call a man 君(kun) if they are close enough? Then, can a man call a woman 君(kun)?

    Would kimi and kun both be used on the same level of closeness in relationships?

    If a guy calls a female friend kimi(or kun?), does it imply that he likes her, or at least he has good feelings on her?

    The reason I asked:
    My former Japanese female teacher is only a few years older than me and of course I used to call her by Family name + 先生.
    But after she stopped teaching Japanese we became friends so I started calling her Family name + さん. If I start calling her Family name + kun/kimi, would I sound really strange?

    (She said she wouldn’t mind if I call her by her First name, but I thought from 先生 to First name is too fast? :P)

    Thank you so much!

    1. @Kenneth Chow

      Hi, Kenneth!

      Q 1) Can a man call a woman 君(kun)?

      In case you get confused,

      These are different :
      *君= kimi = you (pronoun)
      *君= kun = a friendly honorific for boys or someone inferiror

      If you meant to ask if you can call a woman 君(=kimi), the answer is yes.
      And if you meant to ask if you can put the honorific 君(=kun) after female name, some men call women with their family name + 君(=kun) Ex. the boss calles the subordinates by their family name with kun.

      Q 2) Would kimi and kun both be used on the same level of closeness in relationships?

      That depends. But calling someone with 君(= kimi) might sounds snobbish and you may have to be careful when you use it.
      君 (= kun) is used among close friends or someone inferior.

      Q 3) If a guy calls a female friend kimii(or kun?) does it imply that he likes her, or at least he has good feelings on her?

      Again, you don’t usually call your female friend with an honorific, kun.

      Calling a female friend with kimi. : Not necessary gives closeness. It might give someone impression that you look down on that person so be careful.
      First name with chan gives much closer feelings.

      About your situation :

      If you have asked her already how to address her and she told you to use her first name, I would start from calling her by her first name + name.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Thank you! :)

        Yep I understood the difference between them. Next time I should ask my questions more clearly!

        I’m clear now! :D

  13. Hi Maggie, thanks for all you lessons- I find them super helpful! I’ve only recently learned about the nuanced of anata (to my horror, ‘cos I’d used it so much), and I was wondering if you could help clear something up? You say it’s OK to use anata in some general statements and questions, but what about something like あなたの言う通りです? (which I think means something like ‘you’re right’ or ‘as you said’. ) Does this count as another situation where you shouldn’t use あなた?


    1. @Ella

      Hi Ella! Thank you for your comment!
      OK, let me answer your question : あなたの言う通りですis grammatically correct and we do say that to certain people depending on our relationship but I wouldn’t use あなた for someone superior like your teachers, friends’ parents, etc.
      The safest way is to use someone’s name or job title ~さんの言う通りです。or you can say おっしゃる通りです。without any pronouns or name.

      1. Great, thanks so much for answering my question. That’s really helpful- it’s good to know the pronoun-free version too :)

  14. Wow Maggie, this is a really comprehensive section! Thank you so much I read all of it. You must be so busy all day, I hope you have time for walks!

    1. @whosaidpie

      Thank you for checking this lesson! Yes, I am busy going for a walk, chasing a cat, playing with a toy, etc. etc. :)

  15. Hi Maggie,

    I wonder if you have heard of these ones. What kind of nuance do they convey? I

    おい: I found it in the sentence おいも強い I think. Is this a deformation of 俺 maybe?

    おはん: I think this is from Kagoshima dialect.

    おまはん: Kyoto dialect? Because they tend to use H instead of S, like いきまひょうか。

    己: maybe used for samurai? Could this actually mean both you or me 自分?

    お前さん: this translates as “buddy, pal”, right?

    I became a Japanese into Spanish translator and I’m interested in knowing the nuances :-). Thank you a lot for being so useful and helpful, Maggie.

    1. @Cygnus

      おい?Never heard of it. おいら, yes. You may have heard in anime. Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi) always refers to himself.
      I have never heard of おはん either. It must be a dialect.
      おまはん、yes. It is Kyoto dialect but and it is equivalent to おまえさん。In Kyoto, they use はん for さん. And it is used towards someone close to them.
      Since はん sounds very soft and gentle, even though they say おまえ、it is not rude or blunt.
      お前さん also sound friendly but I don’t know if it is “buddy” or “pal” because older people use it to refer to younger people.
      And you are right. 己 can be used as “I” or “you”. You have to be very careful when you address someone with おのれ. It is very aggressive.
      I know it is impossible to translate these in Spanish. It is all going to be “tú”

  16. 詳しい説明ありがとうございます!
    Like someone else said, I think learning how to (not) use あなた is kind of a benchmark in learning Japanese. You can tell when people are getting really good because they start using casual speech and stop using あなた all the time like in English :D

    I have a question about talking to people your own age or younger. When do I use くん or ちゃん or さん or just their name? When I was a 留学生 most of my friends were studying English so I just used their first names, but I noticed some of my friends referred to each other differently. One guy was always called by his last name, so I started to call him that too. And some of my girl friends were called ちゃん. Are these things just なんとなく? Is it OK to ask people what they want to be called?

    1. @songbanana

      Good question! It is important to observe how your Japanese friends call each other. Usually you have to go through a certain process. We don’t usually call someone with chan or kun/ nickname or yobisute when you meet them for the first name. You can gradually change the way you call them but yes, it is totally OK to ask people how to address them.

      Ex. 「どう (or なんて) 呼んだらいい?」
      Ex. 「マギーちゃんて呼んでもいい?」
      Ex. 「みんなに何て呼ばれている?」→「じゃあ私(or 僕)もそうやって呼んでもいい?」
      (These examples are very casual)

  17. Great tutorial! I have one question, sorry if I missed it somewhere on the page: What if you are addressing a stranger (older)?

    For example what if an elderly man dropped something and you want to say “Sir, is this yours?” Would “Kore wa anato no desu ka?” be inappropriate? And what would be the equivalent of “sir”?

    1. @LS
      Hi! Good question!!
      In that case, we still avoid saying “anata”. So if you want to say “Is this yours? ” will be
      「これ(or こちら)落とされませんでしたか?」= Kore (or kochira) otosaremasen deshitaka? = Did you drop this?
      「これ違いますか?」= Kore chigaimasu ka?
      (I know this one phrase may not make sense but we sometimes say this. It came from これはあなたが落とされたものと違いますか?= Kore wa anataga otosareta mono to chigaimasu ka?)

      And if you have to talk to some elderly person that you know, you would just use their name, ~ さん

  18. Great lesson, and great website! I learned not to use おまえ the hard way — I tried using おまえ with my ex-girlfriend to sound more casual. She put a stop to that very quick! (I didn’t understand at that time that it was rude, but I found out very fast!)

    The personal pronoun I think is sort of a benchmark, huh? Realizing when to use a personal pronoun and when it’s unnecessary is sort of right of passage I think.

    Anyway, thanks again for these great lessons. They’re fantastic and amazingly detailed!

    1. @applezoid
      Thank you for your comment! Haha, thank you for sharing your experience! おまえ is easier to learn because people will stop you right away. But あなた is the hardest one to tell people not to use in certain occasions. Although people feel awkward, they can’t stop you because we all know you learned “あなた” as a polite form.
      Hope you visit this site again! :grin:

  19. I like this lesson. I always felt あなた to be kind of a taboo. ^^ With all the safer alternatives out there, it’s easy to do without it. Except for phrases like the featured mini-dialogue.

    1. @curryisyummy

      Thank you for the comment!
      Yes, your Japanese is great already so now it’s time to learn something deeper. :)

      1. Haha, thank you for the kind words Maggie-sensei. I don’t think my Japanese is that good at all. All of your lessons, even the basic ones, teach me something interesting. Thank you. :)

  20. マーギ先生、超アリガトウ!^^

    Can you please explain to me though, what does おっしゃる?
    And あげる too.
    for example, in the sentence “あなたにあげる”
    I don’t quite understand the meaning ><

    1. @キム
      OK, おっしゃる is 敬語 (= keigo) an honorific expression for 言う = iu = to say something.
      あげる means to give something
      あなたにあげる means “(I) will give you”
      Actually あげる has more meanings but check this lesson when you are ready.
      (くれる & あげる
      (A little correction : カタカナ is hard, huh? My name is マギー and lesson is レッスン)

  21. concerning this phrase:
    I have not yet heard a man end a sentence with わ. However, I’ve only been studying Japanese seriously for about a year and a half. I was just wondering if this was a typo, or if you might be playing a joke on us guys ;)

    1. @Mike

      Good question. Recently I have received a question regarding “わ” ending for men. This person heart many men using this わ ending and got really confused as well.
      I will post my answer to that person here.

      The majority of textbooks say “わ” ending as a female speech. But as I mentioned in my female speech lesson, men use わ ending often as well especially in Chubu and also Kansai area. (Actually there are many men who use “wa” ending in other areas as well.)

      Ex.あかんわ!= It’s not good! (Osaka area)

      Ex.これやるわ!= I will give you this. / I will do it.

      Ex.見せるわ!= I will show you.

      Ex.もう寝るわ!= I will go to bed now.

      Ex.ああ、これだわ!= Oh, This is it!

      Ex. これ、僕がやるわ。= I will take care of this.

      Ex.明日、試験だから勉強するわ。= I will have an exam tomorrow so will study now.

      (Note : お前/あんたに言われたくないわ! is a typical “talking back” phrase for Japanese comedians. And many of Japanese comedians are from Kansai area.)

      I understand you don’t want to sound like a woman when you use this ending.
      The key is your intonation.

      Women say the わ ending with rising tone (or flat) わ↑and men say this with lowered pitch わ↓.
      So as long as you don’t say it with rising tone, you are safe.

      But わね or わよ, it is only for women.

      So I am not playing a joke on you. But be careful with your intonation!

  22. wow!explaining “you” must be tough!
    I wish there were more people like you who are willing to spend time explaining the topics more.

    I’m glad I found this site. it is very helpful!

    because of your site, I learned to appreciate the Japanese language more (^_^)v

    1. @roulette225

      Hi there! Thank you for your nice comment. Me,too! I am happy that you found this site!
      I believe learning languages should be fun. And I am doing this for fun as well. (I mean it’s challenging but fun at the same time.)
      I can see your Japanese has been improving. It is because you have been studying very hard! これからもがんばってね!

  23. 私は最近ごくせんを見ました。 やんくみはよく「おまえら」をつかいますね。 いぜん 「おまえ」を聞くことが歩けどあまりよくないんです。

    I have recently watched Gokusen. Yankumi uses Omaera all the time!! I have heard Omae before but never this often!

    1. @Bruce
      ゴクセンやGTOなどの学園(がくえん)ドラマ (=School drama) ではよくこの「お前ら」を先生が使いますよね。実際(じっさい)は男の先生はよく使いますが、女の先生は使いません。(ヤンクミはのぞいて= Except Yankumi)
      (A little correction : いぜん 「おまえ」を聞くことが歩けどあまりよくないんです。→「お前」は以前(いぜん)聞いたことがありますが、これは聞いたことがありませんでした。)

  24. 「あんたに言われたくないわよ!」って、女性らしくないかな?

    1. @Aki

      We (girls) say that jokingly. It sounds funnier than 自分だってそうじゃない or 自分こそ!
      You can also use one’s name,
      Ex. Maggieに言われたくないわよ!
      Other line you can use is
      In Kansaiben 「よう言うわ!」
      Love, you,too! !CHECKHEART!

  25. Very useful! ありがとうございます先生!
    I did find a small error (which might confuse some people, haha)

    Ex. あなた!行ってらっしゃい!
    = Anata ofuro ni hairu?
    = Have a nice day, honey.

    Again, thank you for the lesson. I’ll try to keep the “yous” straight!

  26. Thank you for sharing this. I thought it was okay to use ‘anata’ to everyone since it’s considered ‘polite’ than using kimi/omae, but I guess I’m wrong ^^;;

    I learned a lot today! (and your site is awesome XD)

    1. @hiiki

      Thank you for visiting this site! I think almost all the Japanese learners use あなた thinking it is a polite form.
      I just wanted to teach you all a bit deeper than regular classroom Japanese.

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