Consider the situation in which you are speaking closely around the same table with two other people or more. Someone talking to another person there and referring to you in the conversation with the pronoun あの人 rather than your name plus さん (or other titles) or 彼 or 彼女.

What is the nuance of using the pronoun あの人 here?

2 Answers 2


In most situations I feel that あの人 is very neutral, with no hidden nuances.

Consider the other options:

  • Name/Title: This is most versatile, in that it is most polite and most neutral at the same time. Can't go wrong with this. But then again, it isn't a pronoun, and at some point in the conversation you're going to use a pronoun.
  • 彼/彼女: A lot of people straight up do not use this as a pronoun. Some people pull it off naturally, but not everybody feels that way. (And even for people who do use it, it is at best neutral, and at worst patronizing.) So this is not really an option for many people.
  • あの方{かた}: This is polite. I would use this to refer to a customer/client, a highly respected teacher, or when I'm being very polite when talking about a stranger. But if I use it to point to an acquaintance, colleague, or boss, it can sometimes feel too polite, as if slightly mocking them.
  • あいつ: Either friendly or hostile.
  • あの男/女: Either praising or hostile.

So this makes あの人 the default third-person pronoun for many people.

Of course, あの人 can be used praisingly, contemptuously, or wearily, just like the English pronoun that (“That guy is incredible!”, “That guy?!”, “Oh, that guy again…”). But this can only be read from the context and tone. On its own, it's just a neutral pronoun.


It almost doesn't make sense. He/she may want to keep me isolated, but it's still nonsensical.

Otherwise, in everyday conversation, we'd use この人 when he's an adult, この子 when he's young, この方 when he should be respected and こいつ when he's a close friend.

彼・彼女 are bookish words and we'd use them in public or in formal situations.

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