How to Say You in Japanese

Learning how to say you in Japanese can be a little more complex than it seems at first glance. There are many different ways to say you and unlike in English, many times addressing someone as “you” in Japanese may be impolite. The actual word that is used to represent ‘you’ will be determined by your sex, the sex of the person being addressed as well as the level of formality being used. As a rule、instead of using the pronoun ‘you’ Japanese often address people by their name together with their title さん,せんせい,さちょう etc. Here is a list of polite and casual ways to address someone as ‘you’ in Japanese

あなた – This is the standard way of saying you in Japanese.  Women also use it to address their husbands as a term of endearment.

きみ、君 – This is an expression used by a higher ranking/elder person to address a subordinate or junior person. It is especially used by men towards women. It is normally used among people who know each other fairly well.

おまえ、お前 – A very casual way and mostly used by men to address other men who are close friends. Used my superiors to address their junior males. Not usually used by women.

Sometimes older people may choose the かたい(stiff and formal) way when speaking to people they do not know. In this case they sometimes use the expression そちら様 instead of あなた.

Even though あなた is not rude, it is still considered a little familiar if used to address someone you don’t know.

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