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Sometimes it is the case that fake or example names will be used in place of actual names for purposes of explaining something.

For example:


I have a question about one of Mr. Tanaka's points.

As a name, "Tanaka" is not so important, it is just a filler in this case.

I noticed that sometimes instead of a name, letters can be used like A, B, C..


I have a question about one of Mr. A's points.

However, is it appropriate in Japanese to use "Aさん" here especially if "Bさん" doesn't exist? When is it appropriate to use an actual name like "田中さん" or a letter "Aさん"? Or is there not any distinction made in Japanese?

EDIT: What context best suits these naming conventions? Can "A,B,C" be used in the context of literature or is it only limited to Mathematics? In the example above why might "Tanaka" be a better fit compared to "A,B,C"?

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Is this in the context of explaining the Japanese language, or explaining something else? – Andrew Grimm Jul 19 '12 at 2:12
I think you need to clarify the context. Particularly, what is the purpose of hiding the name? In what context is it used? – user458 Jul 19 '12 at 2:48
@Andrew Grimm: I intend it to be in the context of the Japanese language. I'm looking for answers such as Sawa's below. Please let me know how I can improve the question. – Chris Harris Jul 19 '12 at 3:24
Can "A,B,C" be used in the context of literature >>> Reminded me of Soseki Natsume's こころ, where 先生's friend is referred to as "K". – user1016 Jul 20 '12 at 0:07
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are different methods to use in different contexts. For form samples, they tend to use the institution name in place of a family name and stereotypical names such as 太郎, 花子 for the given name.

三井 太郎
河合 花子
○○大 太郎

In real estate contractions, traditional variable names are used. Cf.


In mathematical contexts, it is natural to use roman alphabets.

A は B が出発した10分後に出発した。

In mass media, to make the person annonymous, an initial may be used. Cf.


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In most sentences, A,B,C... would work well. It's okay to use in casual essays / blog/news articles too. Use 甲乙丙丁 only for contracts and laws.

In case you want to specify sex, use some suffixes such like A子 for female, B男 for male.

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