Why Are Women So Complicated?


I’m trying to get my N5 vocabulary words in and I’m struggling in Bunpro to understand the differences between the following:

女 [おんな」 (female, woman, female sex) - noun {N5}
女の人 [おんなのひと] (woman) - noun {N5}
女子 [じょし] (woman, girl) - noun {N3}

Question 1:
On WaniKani I understand that 女子 refers to girl, not woman, however elsewhere I see this used for Woman as well. How do I know if I should use 女子 for woman over 女 or 女の人?

Question 2:
What is the difference between 女 and 女の人?

When the question asks me to fill in the blank, I’m finding myself just guessing one form over another because I’m not entirely sure when I should be using one over the other.

I’m a bit confused here and it carries over to おかあさん & はは for mother. I think for more polite uses I’m supposed to use おかあさん over はは, but it doesn’t seem to be correct per the example below.

彼女は私の母です (she is my mother)
お母さんのことが大好きです (i love my mother)

I thought the difference would be because one is “polite” です vs non, but this example says otherwise.

Can you help me clarify this? Thank you!


I believe this is what you’re looking for.


Just realized that 女の人 is not in there, but as you can imagine, in contrast with 女の子, it’s the adult form of “girl”.

This one is a bit more difficult to answer because it really depends on the situation, context, the parties involved, etc.

In theory, one refers to their mom as はは when speaking to someone else politely, calls their mom お母さん to their family, and refers to other people’s mothers as お母さん.

However, this is a really crude “rule”. I’ve found that textbooks often like to paint an image of “polite” and “not-polite” language, but it’s less black and white and more of a gradient, where one’s familiarilty with the person they’re speaking with will determine exactly how much polite language they use. Unfortunately, this is one of those things you just have to be exposed to repeatedly to get the hang of.



Thanks for the link to the girls article. I think the link is also missing 女 by itself. I think the post referred more to young girls, girls etc… not woman as a whole from what I read.

Thanks for the input on mother, from what you’re saying, maybe this is similar to mom v mother in English - kinda interchangeable in most cases?

It’s a little more complicated than that. This link doesn’t specifically address the usage of women or mother, but might help you come to grips with the concept of inner and outer groups and how the language changes based on that dynamic.


Ah, 女 vs 女の人 is indeed a bit complex, but again still really depends on the context.

女 is more like “female/woman/girl”, and 女の人 is more like “adult/woman”. I usually try to stay away from using 女 by itself to keep from being misunderstood just because it can sound a bit harsh depending on what you’re saying. Not saying it’s not okay to say the word, just saying that I’ve never heard anyone say この女の人! (vs この女!) lol

But that could just be my personal experience. /shrug


Damn, I just got click-baited by the title


You and me buddy :joy:

It will sound harsh in most cases. It’s like using “woman” as an exclamation.

Because it sounds weird :joy:

If you’re referring to an adult woman, would you call her a girl? That would only make sense if you’re significantly older than the woman in question.

I think many of these have the same problem as “girl” and “woman” (or “boy” and “man”) in English - you will understand the contexts in which each is used once you’re sufficiently exposed to the language. Meaning, you won’t actually understand the difference by just reading about the differences.


Mission accomplished :wink:


Remember this one?