005: A Wrong Turn

Things go south…


Let’s continue talking about this formality and hierarchy stuff.



Out of these four levels it is important to be able to identify/distinguish oneself in Japanese. What this means is, the word “I” and “you” change depending on who you are addressing, and how you would address them.


Let’s start with the word “I” 


  1. Honorific / Humble わたくし
  2. Formal わたし
  3. Informal ぼく あたし
  4. Familiar おれ あっし


Each one of these words gives off a particular image of the person speaking. Watakushi is extremely polite. While women and girls tend to use Watashi just like a boy or man would use Boku, even in informal situations. In fact men tend to use Boku much more than women as it is seen as more masculine; that goes for Ore as well. Overall women tend to use Watashi all the time, and Men use Watashi when being polite and Boku the rest of the time.


Moreover, There are informal and other ways for one to refer to themselves. Words like Sessha 拙者 and Wagahai 我輩 were used by the old samurai. Women and some men also use the word Uchi 内 to refer to themselves but it is seen as slightly old fashioned or and even slightly odd for men. Another way to refer to yourself is simply speaking in the 3rd person, this is how most children speak. There are many different ways to refer to yourself. I recommend staying away from the lower levels (3 & 4 for women, and 4 for men) when speaking to anyone who might be higher on the food-chain than yourself. 



The next step is to make sure you are referring to the person to whom you are speaking correctly. When addressing another person you would normally use their name plus a suffix. We have covered suffixes briefly in a previous chapter so we won’t go too much into depth aside from showing you where they might fit on this hierarchy.


  1. Honorific / Humble Name+さま (If a teacher: Name+せんせい)
  2. Formal Name+さん
  3. Informal Name+くん・ちゃん
  4. Familiar Name Name+たん


Now there are a couple of words that simply mean “you.” However, these are generally seen as somewhat rude. In fact, Most Japanese people will use familiar terms like little brother/older sister/grandpa etc. to address another person if they must call upon them and don’t know their name (and sometimes even if they do.) I will list them here from most ‘formal’ to least just so you hear them. Also if you must use any of them, stick with Anata. Just in case.


  1. あなた 
  2. きみ 
  3. あんた
  4. おまえ

ここ – Here

で – Location of Action Marker

何 (なに) – What

してる – Doing

か – ?

って – Tell me

あんた – You

こそ – 

何 (なに)

してる – Doing

のよ -?!






俺 おれ – I

行かない (いかない)

と – Quotative Particle

 え – EEh

待って (まって) (Comes From まつ ) – Wait!

一体 (いったい) – “…in the world”

どこ- Where

に- Direction Marker

行く (いく) – To Go

んだろう – I Wonder

の – Connective Particle

ばか – Idiot



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