Both 僕たち and 僕ら mean we. But is there any difference between them? I.e. one of them is more formal than the other, or any grammatical nuances?

Edit: How is this a duplicate? The question linked by Szymon discusses the necessity of using the pluralizing affixes rather than the difference between them. The "Bonus" question asked by Amanda was not answered either.

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    The answers provide explanation for me but I might have chosen a wrong duplicate. I'll link a few more questions on that topic.
    – Szymon
    May 2, 2014 at 21:37
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    Also similar: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/3962/…
    – Szymon
    May 2, 2014 at 21:37
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    @chlenix Although it's best if people search for answers before they post their question, you don't have to apologize for posting a duplicate. We like duplicates! They help people find answers, people who phrase things the same way you did. That's why we keep duplicates even after closing them instead of deleting them :-)
    – user1478
    May 2, 2014 at 22:29
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    Is that really a duplicate? Sawa states "ら: non-polite, formal; たち: slightly polite, informal" but then goes on to say "As for 俺ら, 俺 is highly informal, and the whole combination is informal because of that even if ら is formal". I don't feel that difference the between 俺ら and 俺たち (僕ら and 僕たち) has been made clear...
    – Robin
    May 3, 2014 at 3:31
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    @snailboat, this, to me, is one of the failings of the interface on SE in general. Questions get "closed" because of being duplicate, which gives every indication of something wrong having taken place and the asker has been punished. It fosters a sense of rejection for newbies and aggressive policing by veterans. It would be a lot better if a duplicate question was marked in someway to convey "Thanks for the new angle on the question, and we are fortunate to be able to provide you with an existing answer."
    – Questioner
    May 3, 2014 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, there is a slight diffference in nuance between the two. If you asked, however, if most native speakers actually used the two forms "correctly" in different situations, the answer would definitely be negative.

The difference is in the degree of humility expressed. 「僕ら」 expresses a somewhat higher degree of humility about the speaker himself and his gang than 「僕たち」 does.

Would we expect Japanese-learners to know this and use the two forms according to the occasion? I am not even going to answer that because y'all should know we are the kind of people who will praise you frantically if you can say more than two Japanese words with the thickest foreign accent.

Seriously, though, I feel that native speakers actually know deep inside about that degree of humility thing even if we might not be careful enough to use the two forms differently in our daily lives. I say this because I do know that very few of us, if any, would ever use phrases like 「[先生]{せんせい}ら」、「お[師匠]{ししょう}さんら」, etc. where we know that we are expected to show respect. 「僕ら」 is different because it refers to the speaker himself and his company.

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