This ties in to the dialogue in a previous question I'd asked, although the subject is different, so I thought it best to separate it into another question.

For context, the series is in the middle of a tennis competition. Makoto did very impressively during his match, but ended up losing and giving up towards the end. Makoto's friends cheered him on fiercely until he lost. Arata was the next person to have a match, and one of Makoto's friends started cheering the moment he appeared (she likes Arata). Another one of Makoto's friends looked at her, frowning, and thought:


The context here has given me cause to translate the first part of the sentence as "Even though you put so much effort into cheering for Makoto, you're already cheering for Arata?"

My question is about the second part. Should that be 'I feel sorry for Makoto' or 'Makoto's become pitiful'? I've seen both used as translations for かわいそ, so I'm left rather confused.

If someone could tell me which version would fit this context, along with an explanation of why/how the meaning for かわいそ ('I feel pity for' vs. 'is pitiful, i.e deserving of pity) changes with different context and/or grammatical cues, I'd be very grateful.

1 Answer 1


Yes, there are a couple nuances for かわいそう but basically you have it.

Sometimes it can be softer like: "Aww, that's too bad for Makoto!". So, it can be used in more serious context like "I feel pitiful for that person" or like I used previously, it can be more casual and light.

You'll also see it used by itself. I.e. "かわいそうに!" This can mean "I feel bad for him/her!".

Also, it is spelled かわいそう(可哀相/可哀想). I'm not sure if the misspelling was intentional or not. If intentional, see below.

As an aside, sometimes you'll see the last letter dropped in certain words. I wouldn't recommend this unless you are very fluent and culturally aware, as it is not proper.

E.g. ありがとう。 → ありがと。

  • The spelling was intentional, yes, because that's how it was spelt in the character's dialogue. So, if I'm to understand your answer correctly, either meaning can be used for かわいそう in any situation? Or in just this one? I guess I'm asking a rather nuanced question in the sense that I'm wondering whether the context should have the translation in this case be 'i feel pity for Makoto' or 'Makoto deserves pity'.
    – user7541
    Mar 17, 2015 at 21:05
  • Okay so I understand your question better. I mean かいわいそう is used for both situations: feel pity for and deserves pity. So in this case, the story seems to indicate that the 'other friend of Makoto' feels sorry for Makoto. So that's that.
    – user224579
    Mar 17, 2015 at 23:06

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