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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Absolute Beginner Questions Answered by Hiroko, where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is… Is it bad to say ANATA?
In English, you can say “Are you going to school today?”, but the literal equivalent in Japanese, “anata wa kyou gakkou ni ikimasu ka?” sounds very robotic and unnatural. So what would you say then? Isn’t “anata” same as “you”?
The most common place where Japanese people actually use “anata” is when they don’t know anything about the person. For example, someone drops a handkerchief on the street, and then you want to get their attention. In this case you can call the person ‘anata’ because you don’t know the person’s name or anything about him or her. You would say, “kore wa anata no hankatchi desu ka.”
The other place where Japanese native speakers use “anata” is when women are speaking to their husbands. In this case, it’s similar to “my darling” and “my sweetie” in English.
You might have heard “omae” which also means “you”. Husbands tend to use “omae” when they’re talking to their wives instead of “anata”. Also, “omae” is often used by men when they are talking to their close friend.
This means you have to be careful about using “anata” and “omae”.
When Japanese people explicitly state “you” in their sentences, it’s proper to use the person’s name and attach a suffix. You are probably already familiar with “~san”, which is a polite suffix. If you use “anata” with someone who you know, it is rude. So it’s better to use name plus san.
You might already have known that Japanese people often leave out ‘watashi’, because you say, for example, “Hiroko desu.” to mean ‘I’m Hiroko.” We leave out “watashi” when it’s obvious. The same thing happens with “anata” and you can just leave “anata” out of your sentences, when who is “you”’ is obvious. Therefore, when you ask someone “are you going to school today?,” you can just say “kyou gakkou ni ikimasu ka” without saying “anata”.
I hope this makes sense to you.
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね!

27 Comments

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JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 17th, 2015 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 23rd, 2020 at 01:46 AM
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こんにちは Ahmed,


Great to hear that! 😇 Thank you very much for your message.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Ahmed
October 19th, 2020 at 10:03 PM
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Thank you for this clearance. I understand it now.

JapanesePod101.com
April 13th, 2019 at 08:38 AM
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Hi Hastia,


Thanks for the question.

If two people are speaking (one older and one younger), "kimi" is used only by the older person. If the younger one uses this term, he/she appears rude. You boss at work can call you "kimi" as "you" but you can't call your boss "kimi."


Between two peers, "kimi" can be used without offending the other. Usually a boy calls a girl "kimi" but not the other way around.


Sincerely,

Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
March 27th, 2019 at 07:34 PM
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Konnichiwa Deniz,


コメントをありがとうございます!楽しんでいただけたようでうれしいです!

これからもよろしくお願いします。😉👍


Sono

Team JapanesePod101.com

Hastia
March 9th, 2019 at 07:08 PM
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what about 'kimi'? when can we use it? is there any specific person that we can call 'kimi'?

Deniz
February 9th, 2019 at 10:02 AM
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皆さん、これはとても面白かったですね。Very helpful!

JapanesePod101 Team, ありがとうございました。

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 20th, 2018 at 12:24 PM
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Thank you for your comments, everyone!


>Hi Daniel,

Indeed, especially foreign names. Anyway, we are glad to hear that our lesson helps you.


>Hi マレ,

When you already know a person's name, you'd better call him/her [~(name)]+[suffix]. However, there are situations where "anata" is to be used as the video explains. Besides the situations shown in the video, "anata(tachi)" is sometimes used in a speech when instructors/teachers/leaders speak to audience.


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

マレ
August 15th, 2018 at 08:12 PM
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Konnichiwa. So between various textbooks, websites, and the like, I have seen "anata" taught as the only word for you and at the same time the most disrespectful, banned word ever. I was led to believe you should NEVER under no circumstances use it with anyone, but always use name+san/chan/kun depending on the person you are talking too. So, which is correct? This video kind of explained a medium, but I would hate to offend someone in the Japan so I am just looking for clarification! 😄

Arigato gozaimasu.


Daniel
July 25th, 2018 at 08:27 PM
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Now I understand why the first thing Japanese do is asking for a name. It must be really stressful to remember so many names 😄

JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 9th, 2018 at 05:28 PM
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Olivier さん、Ricky さん、

こんにちは!

I'm very sorry for the late reply!!


> Olivier さん、

I'm bad at remembering names, so I often come across that situation ?

As long as the conversation is clear and no need to mention names (or whom you're talking to),

we can make sentences without mentioning the subject or topic of the conversation.

When we absolutely have to say the name, we can ask the name again (together with apology). ?


> Rickyさん、

kimi is much less polite than anata.

You cannot use kimi to someone who is older and/or in higher position.

In other words, you cannot use kimi to someone you have to pay respect.

Hope this helps!


Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com