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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is…
How often should I use WATASHI WA?
So when I introduce myself, I can ‘Watashi wa Hiroko desu.’ or just say ‘Hiroko desu.’ without saying ‘watashi wa.’ Either of them means “I’m Hiroko.” and both are grammatically correct.
So what’s going on with this?
If I introduce myself as simply “Hiroko desu.”, it would because it’s obvious I’m introducing myself.When a subject or topic is obvious, we tend to omit it in the Japanese language. If you are with a group of strangers and you decide suddenly to introduce yourself , you can say ‘watashi wa’.
But after you introduce yourself, you would continue talking without ‘watashi wa’ since it’s obvious you’re talking about yourself.
So, what do you say when you introduce yourself to new friends? ...I’d say ‘Hajimemashite, Hiroko desu. Nihon kara kimashita. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.’ I don’t say ‘Watashi wa Hiroko desu.’ but just ‘Hiroko desu.’ and not ‘Watashi wa Nihon kara kimashita.’ but ‘Nihon kara kimashita. No ‘watashi wa’s at all! Because of the ‘Hajimemashite’ it’s obvious I’m introducing myself, so I just said ‘Hiroko desu.’
So when *should* you use Watashi wa in a self introduction?
I join a party and my friend introduces his friend, Hiromi, to vme. I notice she has a similar name to me. In this case I’d say ‘Hiromi-san hajimemashite. Watashi wa Hiroko desu.’ with ‘watashi wa.’
I’m emphasising the ‘I am’ in “I am Hiroko.” because our names are so similar.
I hope this makes sense to you and you can tell the difference between when “watashi wa” is necessary and not from now on!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!