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Are there any tips for deciding to write みな or みんな? If I'm not sure can I just go with 皆?

Also, in speech is there a distinction made? If not, which pronunciation is more common in standard Japanese?

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I've heard that みな means "everyone (including me)", and みんな means "everyone (else but me)", but I don't know how true that is. – istrasci Dec 31 '11 at 23:57
@istrasci: Although that is not always the case, I think that there is some truth in it. I think that みんな is much more common in vocative than みな, and vocatives naturally cannot contain the speaker him/herself. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jan 2 '12 at 20:43
up vote 8 down vote accepted

みな and みんな have the same meaning, but みな is more formal and みんな is a little colloquial. In fact, historically, みな was the original form and みんな arose by inserting ん to みな.

Both みな and みんな can be written as 皆, but this does not mean that you can replace both みな and みんな with 皆 without losing their nuances. For example, if you want to add the informal feeling of みんな, it is probably better to write it in hiragana.

In certain set phrases such as 皆まで (みなまで) and 皆の衆 (みなのしゅう), only みな is used.

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  • 控えい、控えい、皆の者、この紋所が目に入らぬか。

  • 皆の衆~

  • 愛を止めないで~

  • みんな、笑っていいかな?

  • みんな、あいしあってるか~い?

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Not sure I want to come across as either of those. – Louis Jan 1 '12 at 0:12
+1, this made me laugh! – dainichi Feb 5 '12 at 5:49

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