Pronouns in Japanese are used sparingly, only used when the subject/topic is being emphasized or is otherwise ambiguous or not yet introduced. Below are a few of the most common pronouns, although there are many depending on a mix of dialect, speech level, and gender.
|I / Me / We / Us||Formal||Unisex||watakushi||watakushitachi|
|Him / Her / Them||Formal||Unisex||ano kata||ano katagata|
|ano hito||ano hitotachi|
Interogative pronouns are nouns used to ask questions, such as "who," "what," "where," "when," and "how?" Keep in mind that even though some of these words could be used in a non-interrogative way in English, they may not be in Japanese. For example, if you want to say "what I wrote," you must use a relative clause by saying "kaita koto," where kaita is the past tense of "write" and koto means "thing."
|Formal/Strong||naze||...many objects||nan[counter] (ex. nan'nin, nankai)|
Demonstratives are words that refers to something by proximity. Demonstrative pronouns are words that replace the noun, but are still used to indicate which object is being spoken about. The most common in English are "this," "that," and the interrogative "which?".
Demonstrative adjectives are used to specify the noun or phrase. In English, we often use the same words as above: "this apple," "that orange," or "which banana?" to distinguishing them from the other apples, oranges, and bananas. In Japanese, they use the particle "no."
Japanese has four major groups of demonstratives: ko (this: near the speaker), so (that: near the listener), a (that over there: away from everyone), and do (question marker). Using these, there is a distinct pattern in creating the demonstrative words by context. A few examples include...
|Proximal: ko-||Mesial: so-||Distal: a-||Interrogative: do-|
|Pronoun||kore (this)||sore (that)||are (that over there)||dore (which?)|
|Pronoun (polite)||kochira (this)||sochira (that)||achira (that over there)||dochira (which?)|
|Determiner||kono... (this...)||sono... (that...)||ano... (that...over there)||dono... (which...?)|
|Person||koitsu (this person)||soitsu (that person)||aitsu (that person over there)||doitsu (who?)|
|Adjective||konna (like this)||sonna (like that)||anna (like that)||donna (how/what/like?)
|Place (pronoun)||koko (here)||soko (there)||sasoko (over there)||doko (where?)|
|Direction||kocchi (here)||socchi (there)||acchi (over there)||docchi (where?)|
|Direction (polite)||kochira (here)||sochira (there)||achira (over there)||dochira (where?)|
|Way of Doing||kou (this manner)||so (that manner)||aa (that matter)||dou (how?)|
|Way of Doing (polite)||konoyouni (this manner)||sonoyouni (that manner)||anoyouni (that matter)||donoyouni (how?)|
Indefinite pronouns refer to one or more unspecified people or things. In Japanese, they all use particles, so unlike other nouns, they are not followed by a case particle.
|nani (-thing)||dare (-one)||doko (-where)||itsu (-time)|
|ka (some-)||nani ka||dare ka||doko ka||itsu ka|
|mo (every-)||nani mo (rarely used)||dare mo||doko mo||itsu mo|
|mo ... -nai (no-)||nani mo ... -nai||dare mo ... -nai||doko mo ... -nai||itsu mo ... -nai|
|demo (any-)||nani demo||dare demo||doko demo||itsu demo|
Counters are special words used in addition to the noun to count a number of nouns. We rarely use counters in English, but think of "3 pairs of pants, "2 pieces of paper," and "5 works of art." In Japanese, most counted nouns must be used with a counter.
There are two ways to use counters:
|General||tsu つ (Note that this counter uses the traditional counting system, hitotsu, futatsu, etc.)|
|People||1-2||ri 人||3+||nin 人|
|Objects||Long, cylindrical||hon||Flat, thin||mai|
|Bound objects (ex. books)||satsu||Vehicles, machines||dai|
|Goods, items||ten 点||Houses, buildings||ken|
|Pairs of footwear||soku||Letters, documents||tsuu|
|Frequency||Times/Rounds||kai 回||Times||do 度|
|Duration||time (sometimes excluded except for hours)||kan 間||months||kagetsu kan ヶ月間|
|Animals||Small animals||hiki 匹||Large animals||tou 頭|