18 Japanese words that mean "I"

In Japanese , there are countless words to mean 'I'. Each word has a different nuance. Normally we use 「わたし」. But in very informal or casual situation, we use different words. And there are many words used just by women, men, king, ninja etc...

By your textbook, you learned 「わたし」, but to enjoy Japanese drama, movie, manga or music, it's good to understand nuance of each word. In this article, I list some words, with some reference to Wiki (By the way, Wiki has many mistakes or misunderstanding!).

わたし / 私

- Formal

- Used by both male and female

- わて wate in the Kansai dialect. In formal or polite situations this is gender neutral, but when used in more casual or informal situations, is usually perceived as feminine.

わたくし / 私

- Very formal

- Used by both male and female

- The most formal polite version

わが / 我

- Very formal

- Used by both male and female

- Means "my" or "our". Used in speeches and formalities; 我が社(わがしゃ) (our company) or 我が国 (わがくに) (our country).

おれ / 俺

- Informal

- Used by male, rarely female (because it sounds boyish)

- Meaning "I". Frequently used by men. It can be seen as rude, depending on the situation. Establishes a sense of masculinity. Used with peers or those younger or of lesser status, indicating one's own status. Among close friends or family, its usage is a sign of familiarity rather than masculinity or superiority.

ぼく / 僕

- Informal

- Used by male, rarely female (because it sounds boyish)

- Also means "I"

- Used in giving a sense of casual deference, uses the same kanji for servant (僕 shimobe), especially a male one. Can also be used towards children.

わし / 儂

- Old male

- Colloquial

- Often used in fictional settings to stereotypically represent old male characters.

あたい

- Very informal

- A woman's slang version of あたし

あたし

- Informal

- Used by female

- Often considered cute. Rarely used in written language, but common in conversation, especially among younger women

あたくし

- Informal

- Used by female

- More polite than 「あたし、あたくし」

うち / 家(うち)

- Informal

- Used mostly by young girls

- Means "one's own"

- Often used in the Kansai and Kyūshū dialects.

- Uses the same kanji as "house" (家 / うち).

(自分の名前)

- Used by both male and female

- Used by small children and young women, considered cute.

おいら おら

- Informal

- Used by male

- Similar to 俺, but more casual

- May give off sense of a country bumpkin.

- Used among children influenced by main characters in Dragonball (ドラゴンボール) and Crayon Shinchan (クレヨンしんちゃん).

せっしゃ / 拙者

- Used by male

- Used by ninja and samurai during the feudal ages.

わがはい / 我が輩

- Used by male

- Literally "my fellows; my class; my cohort", but used in a somewhat pompous manner as a first-person singular pronoun.

それがし / 某

- Used by female

- Ancient form of "わたくし"

わらわ / 妾

- Used by female

- Ancient form of "わたくし".

よ / 余, 予

- Archaic first-person singular pronoun for men

ちん / 朕

- Used by male

- Used only by the emperor, mostly before World War II

Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags