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My friend told me I sound too polite when I say あなた, but my book only uses that for second person pronoun. Are there multiple ways to say it and if so, which one is best to use with friends?

  • 5
    Are you sure you want to use あなた at all? It is not used often and normally you use name+さん to refer to anyone but yourself (there are nuances but let's skip them for now). – Rilakkuma Mar 8 '15 at 3:42
  • 1
    There is an interesting list of pronouns on the English wikipedia page for it. See here. – ssb Mar 9 '15 at 1:34
14

There are several you can use instead:

  • あんた → Basically a familiar version of あなた.
  • [君]{きみ} → Sounds a little more endearing to me, but that may not always be the case
  • お[前]{まえ} → Very informal. Can be considered rude and/or derogatory depending on the context in which you use it and how well you know the person.

Lastly, it's very common not to use the second person at all. Many people (particularly, young people) will just address their friends by the name they are most well known (first, last, nickname), possibly with a ~くん or ~ちゃん tacked on (but that's usually how they're most well known anyway). For example,

  • [陽子]{よう・こ}ちゃんは行く? → Are you going Yoko?
  • サトシは昨日のクラスをサボって、父親に知られちゃった。だから、厳しく叱られたんだ。 → Satoshi skipped yesterday's class and his father found out. He really got in trouble for it!
  • [小川]{お・がわ}さんはゴスペルを歌うことが好きみたいですね。とてもお上手です! → Mrs. Ogawa, you seem to really like singing Gospel music. You're very talented at it!

Or for slightly- to intensely more polite situations, the usual last name + さん also works. In all my experience living in Japan, it was very rare to hear あなた.

  • 2
    Just an addition: sochhi (informal of "sochira") is also a very acceptable way to say "you/your" without being impolite -- if the situation calls for politeness one can easily say sochira. – sova Mar 8 '15 at 21:00
  • I would argue あんた as being on par with お前. It's most prolific use is from ヤンキー or ギャル however, it also sees use by those who are angry as well as occasionally between those in particularly familiar circumstances (close friends, classmates, work mates etc.). Any attempt to use あんた with those you are either unfamiliar with or those who do not usually converse with similar word sets, will yield contempt. – The Wandering Coder Mar 10 '15 at 1:40
11

I would stay away from お前 and 君, unless you know very well what you are doing. あんた is a bit less formal, but still not super-friendly.

Actually, the two most simple ways to address friends casually are:

  1. No pronoun: whether in a formal or casual context, you only really use a pronoun when there might be an ambiguity otherwise.

  2. The person's name is also perfectly acceptable (in both casual and formal context). Politeness will be defined by which part of the name and suffix you use.

8

One more addition on あなた. The word is also used by wives to call their husbands (something like dear in English), so just use the person's name, with さん, くん or ちゃん.

Depending on the company, everybody may be using nicknames for each other as well. I really do not hear or use the second person pronouns often, or even at all.

2

I would go for omitting the pronoun or using the person's name (with whatever honorific you'd usually use). It may be difficult for an English speaker to get used to doing so, but it is perfectly acceptable in casual conversation.

1

あなた (or あんた) is in my experience used almost exclusively by females, so you should probably avoid it. You would use 君 mostly to adress people who are inferior in status to you (generally because they are younger) and whom you do not know very well. With close friends, おまえ is completely acceptable (usual, even), but you can also use 君 to add a somewhat warmer touch (especially with your female friends).

A good way to get exposure to casual, everyday speech is to read manga, especially of the "slice of life" genre such as よつばと!. Your book will not tell you everything there is to know (that's not its purpose!).

-1

The solution is simple: use honorifics. 尊敬語{そんけいご} means I'm talking about you, and only you. 謙譲語{けんじょうご} means I'm talking about me, and only me. Consider honorifics to be more "pronoun avoidance" rather than expression of "respect" or "humility".

そちら as a second person pronoun

  • You're not incorrect, but using honorifics is probably not a "simple" solution for the OP. – jpatokal Mar 9 '15 at 4:46

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