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What's the female equivalent for the informal ぼく? I've heard that females will tend to use わたし, but then it's said to be formal. Doesn't there exist a female informal "I"?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, there are several.

あたし

This is just a casual form of わたし used very commonly by young women. However, it has a more "adult" feel to it then うち, as I feel women between 20 to 40 yrs old use it more.

うち

This would be second on the list of most common, especially with young teenagers. I wouldn't expect a women past 30 yrs+ to use this form. It originated in Kansai-dialect, but has spread around among teenagers. There is a phenomenon were dialectical expressions become incorporated into slang of teenagers.

自分{じぶん}

This is much rarer for women, but I've heard it used by women who are into sports and that are more masculine.

オラ

This one originated from the Tohoku area in Honshu. It is more dialectical, but there are women who use it.

わたし

The most common of them all. It can be used in many situations.

Referring to yourself by your own first name (Illeism)

This is more common in children, but some women use it to sound cute (although some people despise it).

A mother or grandmother might also refer to themselves as おかあさん ・おばあさん also when talking to there children.

You should keep in mind that each of these forms give off different nuances. For example, some people feel うち and あたし are used by "unintelligent people", and shouldn't be used. Also, I might missed some that are used in regional dialects that I'm unaware of. Wikipedia has a huge list. Japanese pronouns are very complex!

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わたし is used by women and girls in both formal and informal contexts; it is not strictly reserved for formal or polite speech. In addition to わたし, younger women often use the variant あたし in informal situations.

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2  
Not sure if it happens in real life, but in manga/anime some young girls (especially boyish ones) use ぼく as well. –  Igor Skochinsky Sep 13 '13 at 21:39

Another informal personal pronoun that women use is うち. This may be limited to younger women (if I had to guess, I'd say from teenagers up through women in their 40's) and/or a regional dialects (Kansai is where I know of it).

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Is うち limited to women? I feel like I hear うち used all the time by men and women, and it has more to do with situational context than informality. –  Questioner Sep 13 '13 at 16:39
    
@DaveMG: Of course you can use うち to refer to your "group" (うちの子 → Our child(ren), etc.), but I'm talking about the single word うち to refer to "me" or "I". Unless that's what you're talking about too, but I've never heard men use it that way. –  istrasci Sep 13 '13 at 16:48
    
Yeah, I think I've heard men say things like それはうちのこと to say "that's my business". I don't think I've ever heard a woman say something like うちは犬が好き. To me it seems うち is more about referring to one's domain than to one's self, and I've not experienced it having a gender aspect. –  Questioner Sep 13 '13 at 17:06
    
@DaveMG: Yeah, I've definitely heard women say things like うちも行くわ! or うちはそうじゃない. –  istrasci Sep 13 '13 at 17:20
    
Okay. Maybe it's a regional thing or maybe I just haven't noticed. I'll keep an ear out for it and see if it comes up. –  Questioner Sep 13 '13 at 17:23

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