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ナツだって普通の男の子なのに。。。

Can 男の子 be used to refer to a young adult male? The character they are referring to is 18-19 years old. Two others characters, who are 18, are also referred to as 男 (adult male).

Does it just emphasize that he's young, but not mean that he's literally a child?

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  • Is this from Fairy Tail? Titles can be informative (for example they might inform you of its target audience). Jan 20 at 14:26
  • @YusukeMatsubara Yes care to answer Jan 21 at 7:09

2 Answers 2

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The exact age limit for the terms 男の子 and 女の子 would differ person by person, but the general consensus is that anyone under the age of 30 and unmarried can be referred to as 男の子 and 女の子. Here, the 子 simply indicates someone who is still young, and possibly immature. It should not be literally understood as a "child."

Once a person surpasses the condition of being called 男の子 and 女の子, they can then be referred to as 男の人 and 女の人. Please DO NOT refer to anyone as simply 男{おとこ} and 女{おんな}, although it literally means "man" and "woman", it is a very rude way to address people. Always use 男の子/女の子 or 男の人/女の人.

In formal context though, we refer to "males" as 男性{だんせい} and "females" as 女性{じょせい}. You will likely see this a lot when filling out official forms. For 男性/女性 there is no age limit.

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    Even in English we talk about "kids" for adults in their early 20's, particularly if they're still in college and young. They may not think of themselves as kids, but their professors, school administrators, etc often do talk about the students as kids. I don't know about other professional fields, outside of education, where folks might talk that way. New hirers might be called "youngsters" or even in a joking way "whipper-snappers", though this later one really depends on who's saying it and their tone of voice. Where I've seen 男の子 and 女の子 used youngsters would work quite well in English.
    – A.Ellett
    Jan 19 at 21:48
  • @dvx2718 I see so in the image I posted she is not saying the character is literally a child but just young and you could call someone 23 that? Jan 21 at 7:08
  • @A.Ellett I see so in the image I posted she is not saying the character is literally a child but just young and you could call someone 23 that? Jan 21 at 7:08
  • @dvx2718 also can an umarried 18-20 year old be called 男の人 Jan 21 at 7:22
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    @ZainAlleck Yes and yes for your questions. Use 男の子 over 男の人 when you wanna emphasize youngness, and vice versa to emphasize maturity.
    – dvx2718
    Jan 21 at 21:07
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Don't take the 子 part of it too literally, what you should hear is the casualness. It is not comparable in all ways to these English terms, but it has somewhat similar timbre to "guy" or "dude." A certain amount of youthful immaturity is at times implicit (although not necessary). There is a tinge of status disparity possibly felt embedded in the word in that the person speaking the words probably is older or is in some way in a higher social stratum (depending on context and addressee), but this is not always the case. A neutral way of saying male is 男性.

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