A group of friends are talking about how each member of their group is getting married one by one. One of the group says the following line of a still single friend who has just had a woman flirt with him:


Is the translation:

She is making amorous glances at brother but he still does not have a partner.

How do you tell when 相手 is partner or opponent?

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    The very short answer: context. But in this case, you'll want to look up "相手にする" in your favourite dictionary. Also, don't interprete "兄ちゃん" too literally. Finally, to whom is the line addressed: the still single friend? the woman who did the flirting? or to the other people in the group?
    – Philippe
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 3:50
  • 2
    相手にしない is a phrase, which means "to ignore", "to take no notice of", "to refuse to deal with". This 相手 isn't "someone". Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 5:26
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    Thanks for the comments. So would a possible meaning of the sentence be "She is making dreamy eyes at him but he is not taking notice of it anyway"?
    – Noob
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 7:36
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    If you means the "it" is "making dreamy eyes at him", it is wrong. "he would not take notice of her anyway" would be correct. To be exact, 相手にされない is passive form, so it would be "she would be ignored by him anyway". Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 8:10

2 Answers 2


相手 is neutral so it can be used to both refer to friendlies and foes. It's like saying "the other", so you'll have to rely on context.

相手にする is a set phrase, literally translated "consider as counterpart". It means people (or animals) engage with another, who is trying to engage. For example you'd say: 母犬が子犬の相手をしている, or 子犬は遊びたがっているが、母犬が相手にしない. It can also be used in an unfriendly context, e.g. 反乱軍は投石を行なったが、政府軍の装甲車は相手にもせず進軍を続ける

  • I would add that, the way I've seen it used, 相手にする implies recognizing someone as worthy, and 相手にしない implies not considering someone as worthy of even interacting with.
    – hasen
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 20:53

This is more of a piggyback to @YuuichiTam's comment that 相手 isn't always a "someone". 相手にしない / 相手にしない is more of a (defiant) attitude.

So the translation would be more along the lines of:

"She's making amorous glances at him, but he's not giving in."  or, 
"She's making googly-eyes at him, but he's not having it."

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