In the famous 1952 film 生きる (Ikiru), the government-office employees frequently use 僕 to refer to themselves (even the female character used it). Based on this understanding of 僕, 僕 is basically a pronoun which boys use; but that doesn't explain this frequent use in an office. This formal definition mentions a social status element ("対等またはそれ以下の人に対して用いる。") but isn't very clear on exact situations.

In what situations would 僕 be used outside the context of boys? In what professional or social situations would it be appropriate and natural for an adult man to use, as opposed to 私?

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    Does this answer your question? How should I select what first-person pronoun to use? Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 10:10
  • The primary answers to that question suggest the opposite, that 僕 is NOT appropriate to use in the work environment. So I feel that my question's clarification is warranted. It would have made a good reference for this question had I known about it though, so thank you.
    – Hikonyan
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


僕 is not constrained by age, so it's perfectly fine for adult men to use it. Using it in an office situation would be fine, too.

If you want to be very formal, you'd prefer 私, but if you know the counterpart to some degree it'd be fine to use 僕.

Using 僕 as a substitute for "you" is definitely age constrained (can only be used to someone maybe < 7 years old). This is however a special case (very young children often don't recognize 君 etc. but they know 僕, so if you say something like ぼく、どうしたの? (what happened to you?), you imply they may not know words like 君 yet).

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