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I need a little help with the phrase 'You are...' For simplicity, I'm going to you the example: 'You are helpful.' It's an awkward example, yes, but it's the best I could find. :P

Are these correct?

Patronizing someone, being sarcastic: Anata wa yūyō desu.

Complimenting a friend (named Joe): Joe-kun wa(?) yūyō desu!

Complimenting a teacher: Sensei yūyō wa(?) desu!

However, I struggle with addressing someone whose name you don't know politely. You can't just say 'Yūyō desu' if they don't know you're addressing them, and 'anata wa' can sound rude!

Any help would be appreciated!

  • Sorry, I don't know what you are trying to say. what is yūyō ? – KyloRen Jun 5 '16 at 10:39
  • @probablyme, fill me in as to what the word being used is? – KyloRen Jun 5 '16 at 10:46
  • I know what 有用 is, I just don't see why it is used here. – KyloRen Jun 5 '16 at 10:52
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    If you're referring to something that someone did that was helpful, I'd use 役に立つ – oals Jun 5 '16 at 11:48
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    "You are helpful" (with no sarcasm) >> 「助かります。」「助かりました。」とか・・・ – Chocolate Jun 5 '16 at 16:55
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Patronizing saying of "you" is お前.

If you know their name, it is ~君、~ちゃん and only name for friends. ~さん, ~様 for higher ranking persons.

If you don't know their name, we usually omit the subject "you" and ask their names but if you know their positions like 部長, you say their position.

In addition 貴殿 and 貴台 are polite sayings of you but they are very literary and we hardly say them now.

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Just to be sure, sarcasm does not work well with the Japanese language.

If you are trying to be Patronizing , I suggest taking the direct approach.

Patronizing someone

おまえは使{つか}い物{もの}にならん

If you really want to use 「有用{ようよう}」 Complimenting a friend (named Joe)

ジョー君{くん}は有用{ゆうよう}な人材{じんざい}だ

You could also use this,which has a slightly different meaning.

ジョー君{くん}は優秀{ゆうしゅう}な人材{じんざい}だ

Complimenting a teacher,

ありがとうございました。

I can't see a student ever saying that a teacher is needed in this way in Japanese, so if you ever want to thank a teacher for being using just say "Thank you"

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    Thank you, but that was just the example, heh! My question was mostly just 'how do you say 'you' without knowing the person's name in a polite way'? – Kitty Jun 6 '16 at 2:01

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