I learnt that how are you is “genki” or “o genki des ka”, but there is no anata, so how do you know that that’s not “Am I well?”. In other words how do you distinguish 1., 2., and 3. person when no pronoun is written?

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    It is difficult to think of a situation where you ask yourself "Am I well?", even in English. I mean, if you were not well, you would notice it right away, no need to question yourself.
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 19, 2019 at 22:08
  • Thanks for your answer. Now I understand. Oct 21, 2019 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


As with many things in Japanese (informal language in particular), this is based on context. If you meet someone for the first time in a while, it would make sense to ask them if they are well, rather than asking them if they think you look well.

  • Pronouns are often dropped when it is obvious who is being refereed to.
  • Unlike many other languages there is no grammatical requirement to include the subject in a sentence.
  • You may also choose to omit pronouns if you are unsure which ones are appropriate to address yourself or others, especially as a beginner of Japanese.

In British English, the greeting 'Are you alright?' can be shortened to 'Alright?' and most people can understand from context without specifying a pronoun.

  • Thanks for your answer. Now I understand. Oct 21, 2019 at 4:16

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