How do you say "boyfriend"?

ボーイフレンド vs 彼 vs 男?

Is one more common?

Is this supposed to be poll options? 彼氏 is the number 1, I’d say. I can’t say I’ve ever heard 男 for boyfriend.





I think ボーイフレンド is a really fancy way to say it, if they actually say it, 彼氏 is the most common.

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ボーイフレンド is “I know the Eigo so it’s cool” - way to say it. 男 is the “I don’t know Japanese” way to say it.


I agree about 彼氏. Although, all my textbooks seems to predominately use 彼.

I wonder if it is to help Japanese learners get accustomed to how Japanese uses context. Or perhaps because 彼女 has the same dual usage.

On JapanesePod 101 Naomi and Rebecca discuss a relationship between two characters and they talk about this guy not being a girl’s 彼氏. I’ve heard them use the word more than once actually, so it sounds like it’s the common way to say it in conversation.

This is from the Nihongo Dojo series btw, and apparently Naomi is pretty much the best host they have.

彼氏 means boyfriend, so you can use it without context. 彼 indicates a person you already talked about before, so 私の彼 sounds strange. 彼 is not too polite, so it refers to someone close to you, and I think it’s mainly used for men, so it’s a good pronoun for a boyfriend.

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for sure 彼氏。however, as a foreigner in japan, i have heard several other words for “boyfriend” due to my students, teachers, and strangers’ profound interest in my love life. so i would say ボーイフレンド is used a decent amount as well (or at least people will understand you). i have also been asked if a male friend was my ダーリン, as in “darling”. so that’s…also a choice… ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Almost all my Japanese female friends call their boyfriends 彼. 彼氏 is used for someone else’s boyfriend as a more polite way. When a girl says 彼氏 about her own boyfriend, I heard it sounds like she is really fond of him.

How are they using it? As a pronoun or as the word “boyfriend?”

彼氏 but sometimes when people ask me about my boyfriend Japanese people say 彼氏さん lol I have also had a friend ask me about my boyfriend, referring him to あなたのダーリン so it depends. If someone
says 彼, I get a very distanced feeling from the speaker. No one ever says ‘ボイフレーンド’ here

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Kinda assumed that was a given in a relationship of that type :joy:.

I can probably count the number I’ve times I’ve heard a Japanese person just use 彼 as a pronoun on my fingers.

And I would run out of fingers.

EDIT: With zero times hearing 彼 alone for boyfriend. Shocking that different people have had different experiences, right.

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If you are really deeply in love, you can also use 恋人(こいびと, lover). :slight_smile:

I always wondered if 恋人 has connotations similar to the English word “lover.” In my experience, “lover” in English kind of implies a sexual relationship and thus generally isn’t used in everyday conversation to refer to your SO. In Japanese does it simply imply a relationship, or does it go beyond that?


It’s much simpler than that. It’s more like when 99 people say the same thing, and 1 person says the other, you tend to question the 1 person, not the previous 99. Regardless of how much he goes, “But mah experience”

Is that what happened in this topic?

You hold your experiences in pretty high esteem, if I remember correctly. I recall you basically declaring the city of Kobe has inadequate English education because no one personally talked to you in English.

It does seem to have a bit of that “lover” nuance. Except maybe in one context, 恋人がいる, which I hear every now and then to mean that there’s someone in your life and you’re in a steady committed relationship. It doesn’t seem to come off as the cheesy “I have a lover”, but simply as “Oh yeah, I have a boyfriend/girlfriend”. It’s also used as a gender neutral term, notably by LGBT people who don’t necessarily want to disclose that information right off the bat, a little bit like people use “partner” or “significant other” in English.

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