Can anybody explain why 私 is a sixth grade kanji?

I find it funny that such a common word appears on the list so late.

up vote 24 down vote accepted

This is because you don't have to write it in kanji even after you have become an adult. On BCCWJ, there are 65,182 examples of 私は, while the number of the examples of わたしは is 11,372. This means many adults choose to write わたし in hiragana even after learning its kanji. (I think formal documents tend to contain the kanji 私 more often.) By contrast, an educated adult almost never writes 学校 or 会社 in hiragana, so, in a sense, these kanji are more fundamental. 私 is not really an essential kanji for making sentences on a daily basis, and learning it in sixth grade is not too late. The same is true for あなた; even though it has kanji (貴方), not many people use it in day-to-day writings.

  • It also occurred to me that the idea of private vs. public is more abstract that some concepts taught earlier, but I don't really have any basis to make that an answer. – Leebo Oct 12 at 4:32
  • Didn't it only recently get officially accepted as writing for わたし and before that the kanji was technically supposed to be used only for わたくし? Seem tor remember something to that effect. (here someone claims 平成22年 ... detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q12111395597 ) – virmaior Oct 12 at 12:54
  • 5
    It also seems to me that it's also not a very common kanji to use as a part in other words, particularily not words you would find a regular fifth-grader using. I have nothing more than half a page of dictionary and my own judgement on word usage to back it up, though. But compare to words like 小学, 土曜日 and 両親, which all use kanji learned the first couple of years (両 is grade three, 曜 is grade 2, and the rest are grade 1), and all words I would consider it more normal for children to use than something like 私立. – Arthur Oct 12 at 13:53

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