When the Abrahamic God is referred to in Japanese, 神様 is very common, but on occasion I simply see 神 on its own. This even applies when they are clearly speaking reverentially, using words such as 御心{みこころ}. The one thing I've noticed is that 神 often appears in more 'serious' contexts, so would I be correct in assuming that 神様 is more colloquial?

1 Answer 1


Yes I thinks so. 神様 is fine when ordinary people call their god(s) with respect, but it's difficult for me to imagine a professional Christian priest use 神様 in their public lectures at church. (I may be stereotyped since I rarely go to church.)

The same goes for イエス様 and イエス・キリスト — the former sounds more "friendly" to me, while the latter sounds more dignified and formal.

様 is certainly the most respectful suffix in our daily life. But there are even more stronger and proper suffixes for really high people, such as 陛下, 閣下, 殿下. Calling such people like 将軍様, お殿様, 王様, or 姫様 sounds to me rather "friendly" or "colloquial" than proper.

This may be obvious, but 神様 is virtually never used in academic fields.

  • Note that 神 itself also doesn't necessarily have to refer to the god of Abrahamic faiths, and I guess it's anecdotal but I tend to hear 神 in any contexts that aren't Abrahamic (e.g. Shinto) and 神様 in those contexts that are. So it's not necessarily always a matter of which is colloquial if we see Shinto etc. (Unfortunately I can't go much more into detail about the latter, too far outside my sphere of knowledge.)
    – virgil9306
    Mar 22, 2017 at 3:51
  • Anecdote: My wife (アメリカの日系人) was told by her advisor (普通の日本人) that using 神様 in academic writing in religion wrt to the Abrahamic God sounds childish...
    – virmaior
    Jul 4, 2017 at 17:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .