Japanese Pronouns Survey

I’ve read that a lot that 俺 is for tough guys, and I think it makes many foreigners imagine the only guys who use it are Tokyo Manjikai-style yanki when in reality, it’s used by virtually all men lol. I hate acting like a foreigner telling people how something “is” or “isn’t” in the Japanese language because I certainly didn’t grow up there, but I’ve had many Japanese friends for many years and I can definitely speak on how I’ve heard so many of them talk. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: But for anyone who really wants to understand all the nuances well, I seriously think the best thing to do is just ask a Japanese person themself! If you don’t have any Japanese friends in person, there’s certainly many ways of meeting them online these days.


True, yes. I’ve found the “rare pronouns” aspect of Japanese hand to wrap my head around, though…
So, anyone familiar with Japanese RPGs, specifically second person text games (like Zork and stuff), are they all like あなた all the time, or how is the normal writing style when it comes to pronouns?

I like 僕 because I like presenting slightly masculine :]

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I’d imagine it’s just omitted fairly often, as pronouns usually are in Japanese. Quickly scrolling through a bit of a Japanese playthrough, it does look like there’s the occasional あなた, usually as the first thing when introducing presumably a new “room” (or whatever the correct term is in games like these), but also entire screens of text without a pronoun in sight.

Games like Zork are a bit of an exception in that they’re addressing the player through a nameless persona, but in general conversation people would just use a name where needed - but unless the subject changes in between, you could tell someone’s entire life story and only need a pronoun or name once, in theory - it can just remain implied from there.




I’ve never played any of the kind of games you’re referring to, but I’m guessing they say あなた to you because Japanese games often have you type in your own character name, and since that isn’t programmed into the game they’re forced to directly talk to you as あなた instead of whatever name you chose. You probably already know this, but when actually speaking Japanese the custom is to refer to someone as their name rather than “you” when directly talking to them (for example, if I’m talking to someone named Miyamoto, I would say “Where would Miyamoto-san like to eat?” / 宮本さんはどこで食べたいですか?). However, for students taking exams at school, the tests often say あなた written in the questions to the students for a similar reason, because a written test can’t know a specific student’s name and keeps it general.


I guess we’re talking about old games, but it’s pretty easy to record variables like character names and inject them into game text. Do more modern games use the player character’s inputted name instead of pronouns?

It sounds hard but in reality, it’s really convenient if you don’t know someone’s name. Honestly, about the only time you need a pronoun is if you’re switching subjects, and there’s ways around that too.

If I’m talking to a neighbor and I don’t know their name, if they look obviously elderly and we’re friendly, I’ll use おはあさん or おじいさん. If they are mid-age, then お母さん or お父さん is more polite. If they’re clearly younger than me, お姉さん or お兄さん. Our elderly neighbor uses that for us even though she knows our names because that’s her way of being polite. She only uses names directly during English practice.

I don’t have experience with RPG, but I assume in a game setting, Japanese people are less strict about politeness because it isn’t real life so あなた can be used. But if I’m trying to get someone’s attention, I’d probably just use すみません, follow them until they get the message, and then refer them by username when I can check it.

It’s not like あなた can’t be used in real life, it’s just not always appropriate. It’s just another second-person pronoun, it’s not inherently any more or less offensive than any other. It’s just that the cases where it’s appropriate are limited, since it’s not generally used with strangers and if your relationship with someone is such that it’s of the right formality, you tend to know their name so that becomes more natural to use instead. If you don’t, however, you can definitely use あなた.

I’m not sure why some people (not necessarily you - just something I see quite a bit here and there) seem to think it’s some kind of insult or something to be avoided at all times :confused: Japanese just doesn’t have the tendency to refer to people as “you” all the time, like English does.


Ah, thanks so much, that makes sense! :333

Learning so much from this thread! :3

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Or 朕, 余, 妾(わらわ), 拙者,己(うぬ), …

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In Persona 5 Royal, they always referred to the name I chose for my character in the text, but of course the voice acting didn’t reflect that. (I remember the actors using words like 彼、こいつ、先輩 etc lol)

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I guess it’s a reference, but I don’t get it :sweat_smile:


It’s a Vtuber (what else :joy:), Nakiri Ayame. She refers to herself as 余.

At one point she appeared in an animated short and opened with 余だよ! - which then became a bit of a running gag associated with her.

The animated short in question

It’s utterly ridiculous, full of lame puns and weird humour, and if you need it there are English closed captions (which try to capture the wordplay and humour - and usually do a very good job of it)


Does anyone have more context on the usage of あたし?Is it really used that frequently and who uses it?


Can’t say I’ve ever heard of that one.

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I’ve heard it used a few times. Feels to me like just わたし but feminine instead of gender-neutral

According to here its the 共通語の私, for whatever that’s worth.

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That’s not quite what that says. 共通語の「わたし」が is not an isolated part, the rest of the sentence is important too.

I’m assuming なまる refers to mispronouncing/corrupting a word here, so that’s saying おたし is a bastardisation of わたし, essentially - and that in Tokyo, it’s said as あたし (which I’ve heard before - as opposed to おたし, but apparently it does exist)