With regard to talking about one's "personality", such as one being out-going, stoic, cold, not trustworthy, etc. I've always said "人柄{ひとがら}". And, the natives seem to basically understand what I mean.

  1. With regard to how it sounds, are "性格{せいかく}" and "人物{じんぶつ}" both really formal to use in a conversation?
  2. What are a few contexts where "人柄" is not understandable / very inappropriate, and "性格" and/or "人物" must be used?

1 Answer 1



The bottom line of this word is "temperament", "disposition". And this one is the most common word to describe a person's personality. It translates "character" in psychological terms, and also used for a thing's characteristics.


A word mostly for one's interpersonal character. But effectively, it's almost always used to tell what kind of virtue whoever has, thus not much compatible with bad evaluation. For example, 人柄が冷たい (="has cold character"?) only had 7 hits in Google.jp. We could say 人柄が良くない, but 人柄が悪い sounds a little stiff if not wrong.


This one is more like person (respectable figure, someone important) or identity, rather than personality. But it can be used as a more formal alternative to 人柄, as well. On this point the usage is similar to 人柄. The word also translates "character" in drama, so 悪い人物 is likely to be baddie.


人格{じんかく}: persona, "personality" in psychology as in 多重人格 "multiple personality".

個性{こせい}: personality, individuality; but since Japanese culture doesn't praise being special, this word sometimes means "eccentricity".

性向{せいこう}: (behavioral) tendency, propensity.

根性{こんじょう}: (old-fashioned and/or slangy) habitualized attitude, innate or acquired. Also means "guts" or "patience" by its own.

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