How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (2024)

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The first thing you need to know about saying ‘you

‘ in Japanese is that… you probably shouldn’t say it!

Anata (あなた) is the direct translation of

‘you

‘ but it’s rarely used by native speakers and sounds offensive if not used correctly.

If you really need to say it, the unspoken rule of how to say ‘you‘ in Japanese, is to say the person’s name + one of the many Japanese honorifics.

Most of the other ways to say ‘you’ in Japanese tread a fine line between rude or affectionate… confusing right?

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of words for you with conditions for use and a politeness rating with 5 being the most polite to help you out.

Now go ahead and choose wisely!

Table Of Contents

  1. Name and honorific
  2. Don’t say 'you'
  3. anata
  4. anta
  5. sochira
  6. kimi
  7. o-mae
  8. kisama
  9. temee

Name and honorific

名前 + ―さん etc.

  • Politeness: 5/5
  • Conditions: You know the person’s name and you want to be respectful

The most acceptable way to say ‘you’ (especially in the workplace and with people you’ve just met) is to take the person’s name and add an honorific suffix such as -san. If you don’t know what an honorific is or how to use them, read this article on Japanese Honorifics.

Example 1: At work
I ask my colleague, Yuko Nakamura, if she has plans for the summer holidays:

Nakamura-san wa natsu yasumi no yotei ga arimasu ka?

中村さんは夏休みの予定がありますか?

なかむらさんはなつやすみのよていがありますか?

Literally: Does Nakamura-san have plans for the summer holidays?
Meaning: Do you have plans for the summer holidays?

She responds:

Natsu yasumi no yotei wa mada nani mo kimete naindesu… Francesca-san wa?

夏休みの予定はまだなにも決めてないんです。。。フランチェスカさんは?

なつやすみ の よてい は まだ なに も きめてない ん です。。。 フランチェスカ さん は?

Literally: I haven’t decided anything yet for the summer holidays… and Francesca-san?

What this translates to is, and you?

Example 2: With a close friend
Your friend’s name is Miyu and you’ve misplaced your keys:

Miyu-chan ni kagi wo watashita no?

美優ちゃんに鍵を渡したの?

みゆちゃんにかぎをわたしたの?

Literally: Did I give Miyu-chan the keys?

Meaning: Did I give you the keys?

Remember, you must use a person’s title if they have one so instead of -san­ you would use an honorific such as -sensei(先生 / せんせい), -buchou (部長 / ぶちょう), -shachou (社長 / しゃちょう) etc.

Don’t say ‘you’

‘You’ とは言わないで

  • Politeness: 3/5
  • Conditions: Friends/family where the person is right in front you

In casual settings, you don’t always need to use the personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’ to be polite and understood in Japanese.

Going back to Miyuchan and the keys from example 2 above, the sentence works perfectly without saying ‘you’:

Kagi wo watashita no?

鍵を渡したの?

かぎをわたしたの?

Did I give (you) the keys?

Here, you don’t say ‘I’ (watashi) or ‘you’ (Miyu-chan) but the meaning is implied because Miyu is with you.

This is not appropriate for workplace settings or when speaking to elders / people you don’t know, so when in doubt, use their name + honorific.

anata

あなた

  • Politeness: 3/5
  • Conditions: You are married / a stranger / an advertisement or a computer

Anata is the most common translation of ‘you’ but it’s considered a bit robotic, with a few exceptions.

One is between spouses, where wives use anata for their husbands meaning darling, sweetie or honey.

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (1)

It’s also used to directly address strangers:

Sumimasen, kore wa anata no kasa desu ka?すみません、これはあなたの傘ですか?

すみません、これはあなたのかさですか?

Excuse me, is this your umbrella / does this umbrella belong to you?

Other situations where anata is used is in advertising, computer-generated questions and when people need you to fill out forms because they don’t know your name, but they still want to address you in a personal and polite way:

Anata no nenrei wa o ikutsu desu ka?

あなたの年齢はおいくつですか?

あなたのねんれいはおいくつですか?

What is your age / what age are you?

Otherwise, using anata is like pointing a finger at someone and shows you are distant or even suspicious of them. It’s derogatory when used with a person older than you or of a higher position and should be avoided where possible.

A great video on how to use anata is this one by Hiroko from Japanesepod101.com:

anta

あんた

  • Politeness: 2/5
  • Conditions: Family/friends

Anta is a less polite, short version of anata. Though less common, it’s sometimes used by older family members to younger ones in an endearing way such as ‘dear’.

Kyou wa anta no tabetai mono ni shiyou.

今日はあんたの食べたいものにしよう。

きょうはあんたのたべたいものにしよう。

Today I’ll make whatever you want to eat, dear.

Between friends, anta can be a casual way to say ‘you’ but it can also sound like you’re talking down to someone so handle with care.

sochira

そちら

  • Politeness: 5/5
  • Conditions: Speaking to clients in a business setting

Sochira means ‘that one‘ or ‘that way‘ but it’s also a polite way of saying ‘you‘ often used during business phone calls:

Kashiko mari mashita. Dewa, kinyoubi ni sochira ni denwa itashimasu.畏まりました。でわ、金曜日にそちらに電話致します。

かしこまりました。でわ、きんようびにそちらにでんわいたします。

Certainly. Well then, I shall call you on Friday.

kimi

君 / きみ

  • Politeness: 3/5
  • Conditions: Males speaking to inferiors / Males speaking to a lover

Kimi is an informal, masculine way to say

‘you

‘ used to indicate either authority or affection. It’s not used much in daily conversation and should never be used towards an older person or someone of higher rank.

The kanji 君 for kimi is the same as the honorific suffix -kun, but with its Japanese reading (kunyomi) it’s pronounced kimi.

In the workplace, kimi is sometimes used by bosses to employees (male or female), which implies their position in the hierarchy:

Kimi wa kore ni kinyuushite kudasai.

はこれに記入してください。

きみはこれにきにゅうしてください。

Can you fill this out please?

The other well-known use of kimi is in songs, haiku (Japanese poetry), manga, anime and dramas. It’s used by both males and females (but mainly boys) towards someone they are referring to romantically.

There are numerous Japanese works that start with kimi:

  • Kimi ni todoke (君に届け) From Me to You (Romance manga by Karuho Shiina)
  • Kimi no na wa(君の名は) Your Name (Romance/fantasy film by Makoto Shinkai)
  • Kimi ni sekai (君に世界)This World to You (Song by Eve)

o-mae

お前 / おまえ

  • Politeness: 2/5
  • Conditions: Older males to younger males / Between males of the same age / Men when they’re angry

O-mae means ‘the one in front of me’ and is a casual, slightly rough way of saying ‘you‘ commonly used among men towards those younger / lower in status.

Interestingly, o-mae was originally a polite word used for noblemen, hence it begins with the Japanese honorific prefix -O. The polite nuance has completely disappeared over time though.

When I taught at an all-boys high school in Tokyo, every male teacher regularly used o-mae with students, especially when scolding them. To be more aggressive, they would say O-mee (おめえ)。

Nani yattenda, o-mee wa?

何やってんだ、おめえは? 

なにやってんだ、おめえは?

What (the heck) are you doing?

O-mae wa nande shukudai yara nain darou?

お前はなんで宿題やらないんだろう?

おまえ は なん で しゅくだい やらない ん だろう?

Why don’t you do your homework?

However, like kimi, o-mae can simply show you are above someone in position / age without being condescending.

Situations where o-mae isn’t necessarily rude:

  • Teachers addressing students
  • Parents to children (boys)
  • Between males of the same age or status

It’s common for boys and men to use o-mae with their friends, especially in a joking way.

O-mae, baka da na!

お前,馬鹿だな!

おまえ、ばかだな!

You’re an idiot! / You fool!

And anyone can use o-mae for a pet:

Kawaii na, o-mae wa!

可愛いな、お前は!

かわいいな、おまえは!

You’re cute, aren’t you!

O-mae is typically masculine but it’s popular among high-school age girls for addressing boys of a similar age.

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (2)

kisama

貴様 / きさま

  • Politeness: 1/5
  • Conditions: For your worst enemy

Kisama is a very condescending way of saying ‘you‘ found mainly in manga and anime.

In Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta (the villain) often calls Goku (the good guy), kisama. It could be seen more like ‘Oi, YOU (insert swear word)!‘

Kisama wa futari ni senzu wo kuwasete yare!

貴様は二人に仙豆を食わせてやれ!

きさまはふたりにせんずをくわせてやれ!

You @!#%, go give those two the senzu beans!

Like o-mae, kisama was not always rude and originally used by those with high social status in Japan to properly address those below them hence the use of the honorific suffix -sama (様 / さま)。

temee

手前 / てめえ

  • Politeness: 0/5
  • Condition: You want to start a fight

Temee is the most insulting way to say ‘you‘ on our list. It basically means you’re about to start a fight with someone.

Unlike, o-mae, temee only has a derogatory meaning. It’s along the lines of You bastard!

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (3)

It appears in Japanese dramas and anime and you will hear it when someone is provoking someone.

We advise against using temee ever, but it’s good to be aware of it!

How to say you in Japanese

Now you know several different ways to say you in Japanese. Yes, it does seem confusing to have more than one word – but remember, if in doubt, just use the person’s name!

Related posts:

  • How to Say ‘I’ in Japanese
  • 9 Ways to Say Friend in Japanese: From Acquaintance to BFF
  • Bad Japanese Words Your Teacher Won’t Tell You

Ready to take the next step in your Japanese language journey? Our recommended online course is JapanesePod101.

JapanesePod101 offers a complete system for learning Japanese at any level, from total beginners to advanced. The self-paced courses include audio lessons, printable worksheets, learning tools (such as quizzes and flashcards), and lots more.

Sign up for a free lifetime account here.

JapanesePod101 are currently offering FULL access to the Absolute Beginner Course (90+ audio lessons!), absolutely free.

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (4)

Francesca Rex-Horoi

Francesca is a freelance copywriter and teacher, who moved to Tokyo from New Zealand at age 24. A linguistics and ESL major, she spent 3 years teaching at an all-boys high school. Now based in France, she remains a self-confessed Japanophile who loves kanji, cooking, cats and the outdoors.

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!) (2024)

FAQs

How To Say 'You' In Japanese (Without Starting a Fight!)? ›

Anta (あんた) - Just because this is the shortened version of Anata doesn't mean that you should use it casually. This form of the word can be seen as someone being admonished in a very rude way.

What is a rude word for you in Japanese? ›

Anta (あんた) - Just because this is the shortened version of Anata doesn't mean that you should use it casually. This form of the word can be seen as someone being admonished in a very rude way.

Is kuso a curse word? ›

In Japanese, kuso means the f word. Literally, the word's meaning is something like "poo" or "shit", but it is best translated as "f*ck!" when used as an angry interjection.

Why is Anata rude? ›

“Anata“ originally referred to somewhere unknown and far away. So, if you were to use “anata“ while knowing your counterpart's name, you would give a cold impression. It can be taken this way as rude!

Is Kimi wa polite? ›

君 (kimi): used by men toward people of lower status. Typically not rude. (not inherently formal/informal, but makes the status hierarchy explicit, and is therefore better suited to formal situations)

Is Aho a bad word? ›

6. Aho | アホ // Baka | バカ Both of these are used to mean 'stupid' or 'idiot', so it's generally not the harshest of swear words in Japanese to use. The difference in the two is mainly dialectal.

Is it rude to say oi in Japanese? ›

It's pronounced nearly the same as the English version, but if the Japanese cry out “oi!”, it means he/she is furious. (Or, in some cases, they are not angry but just extremely rude.)

Does anime have the F word? ›

Chikusho – “f*ck” And of course, this wouldn't be a list of Japanese curse words without the all-time favourite, “Chikusho!” We often hear this in classic anime scenes where the character's gritting his teeth with fists clenched in frustration. Yup, it basically means “f*ck.” Shocker.

Why don't animes say the F word? ›

Spoken Japanese doesn't have the same kind of "swearing" or taboo words like (American) English does. So when vulgar language does appear in a dub, it's usually the result of the dub studio adding it (presumably to fit a tone or mood) rather than being something present in the original.

Is the word Baka inappropriate? ›

Baka (馬鹿 or ばか) is a Japanese swear or curse word meaning idiot, jackass, dumbass, or unthinking fool. (Excuse our language, please!) That said, baka's meaning is highly contextual, as our resident Japanese expert explains: “Baka (馬鹿) means a fool or an idiot, and used as an insult.

What is Dekimasu? ›

You can express ability or potential if you use the dictionary form of verbs, and attach to it KOTO GA DEKIMASU (can do / Literally, can do the thing of). Let's make a sentence, using KOTO GA DEKIMASU. When you say "I can go," "I" is WATASHI. "To go" is IKIMASU.

Can girls say Omae? ›

”お前(omae)” is usually used by male, but sometimes it's used by female too, like you watched it in anime.

What is Genki desu? ›

The expression "genki desu" 元気(げんき)です is usually used to answer the question "o genki desu ka" お元気(げんき)ですか Just as Kess answered, the question and answer is almost the same as. -How are you? -I am fine.

What is omae? ›

お前 (Omae) is the Japanese word for “you” that is considered very rude. You've seen it all over anime and action movies and you get it.

What does Kimi ga Suki mean? ›

Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu (Japanese: キミがスキ・ライフ, lit. "I Love You – Life") is an album by alternative rock musician Matthew Sweet.

What does Dobe mean in Japanese? ›

According to the Internet, dobe is a dialect used in the area of western Japan, and instead 'biri' (ビリ) is mainly used in the area of eastern Japan. Both dobe and biri are slang terms that have the same meaning, "bottom" or "last place."

Is Anata considered rude? ›

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.

Why is saying you rude in Japanese? ›

In Japanese culture, addressing someone without using their names may seem impolite. It can be perceived that the person you are addressing isn't important enough that you should remember their name. Imagine if you were referred to as “that person” instead of your name.

What is Chigau? ›

Another of the most common ways how to say no in Japanese is 違う (chigau), which means “different.” This phrase connotates disagreement with a statement given by another person.

What is Chinko? ›

Chinko is a 5.9 million hectare (or nearly 7,000 square miles) protected area in the southeastern part of the Central African Republic, managed by the nonprofit conservation organization African Parks as part of a fifty-year public–private partnership with the Ministry of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fishing.

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