I came across the following in a newspaper article:


The first part (藤沢健太教授) is the name of a professor (Professor Kenta Fujisawa). The parentheses say "Astrophysics", and the last part (の研究グループ) indicates his research group. It's the ~ら that confuses me.

I had only ever heard ~ら after かれ or お前, so I did some searching, and I found these sites.

  • This source says it is used for かれ, but doesn't elaborate.
  • This source says that it is an informal version of ~たち, which doesn't seem to fit in the context of a newspaper (unless I'm wrong about that), or the very technical topic.
  • And this source simply says that it's another version of ~たち.

I'm still unclear as to when one should use ら if it's informal, yet also in the paper. Does anyone know the nuance of it?

  • Besides whether they are correct or not, they don't conflict. What if ら can be used for かれ, and is another version of たち, namely, an informal version? Your question is strange.
    – user458
    Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 19:17
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    @sawa I see what you're saying, but what I don't understand is why it's used in the newspaper, which as far as I know, doesn't use informal phrases. I re-read the first source...I misunderstood what it was trying to say, that ら can be used for かれ, but it's not exclusive to it. Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 19:42
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    Although 俺ら is informal as claimed in your second link, I do not agree with the blanket claim that suffix ら is informal. As you observed by yourself, use of suffix ら is common in the formal context such as newspaper articles. Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 19:59
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    possible duplicate of Pluralization in Japanese: usage of -たち and -ら Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 1:33

1 Answer 1


It is rather the other way around of what the second link says, and the reason for that description is that it is probably confusing politeness and formality.

  • ら: non-polite, formal
  • たち: slightly polite, informal
  • がた: polite

As for 俺ら, 俺 is highly informal, and the whole combination is informal because of that even if ら is formal.

And besides that, some personal pronouns only go with either of them as noted in the first link.

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