Japan

Lesson Notes for the Japanese newbie lessons

April 2009

Romaji Version

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Watashi

Watashi-tachi

Anata

Anata-tachi

Kare

Kare-ra

Kanojo

Kanojo-tachi

Watashi-tachi wa Nihon-jin desu.

Anata-tachi wa Spain-jin desu.

Watashi wa 35-sai desu.

Kare wa 32 sai desu.

Kanojo wa Jody desu.

Kanojo-tachi wa America-jin desu

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English Translation

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I

we

you

you (plural)

he

they (boys)

she

they (girls)

We are Japanese.

You (plural) are Spanish.

I am 35 years old.

He is 32 years old.

She is Jody.

They (girls) are Americans.

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Some comments from Wikipedia

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Pronouns in the Japanese language are used less frequently than they would be in many other languages, mainly because there is no grammatical requirement to explicitly mention the subject in a sentence. So, pronouns can seldom be translated from English to Japanese on a one-on-one basis.

As a general rule, the first person pronouns (e.g. watashi, わたし) and second person pronouns (e.g. anata, あなた) are avoided, especially in formal speech. In many sentences, when an English speaker would use the pronouns "I" and "you", they are omitted in Japanese. Personal pronouns can be left out when it is clear who the speaker is talking about.

The first person pronoun is usually only used when the speaker wants to put a special stress on the fact that he is referring to himself, or if it is necessary to make it clear. In some situations it can be considered uncouth to refer to the listener (second person) by a pronoun. If it is required to state the second person explicitly, the listener's surname suffixed with -san or some other title (like "customer", "teacher", or "boss") is generally used.

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Sounds difficult? Just remember this: when you want to say "you," "he," or "she," please say their names if you know them.

I have to mention this too:

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Gender differences in spoken Japanese also bring about another challenge as men and women use different pronouns to refer to themselves. Social standing also determines how a person refers to themselves, as well as how a person refers to the person they are talking to.

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But for now, don't worry about it. This lesson covered basic pronouns. If you are interested, please check here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pronouns

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