Japanese Nouns

Under Construction

Personal Pronouns

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.

  • Pronouns are the same regardless of whether the person is the subject, indirect, direct object.
  • Pronouns cannot be used as a destination or direction (like "run to me"). You must use a noun like ほう (direction).
  • Japanese does not use dummy subjects, like "it" in "It is hot." In these cases, you should simply drop the subject.
Formality/Politeness Gender Singular Plural
I / Me / We / Us Formal Unisex watakushi watakushitachi
Polite watashi watashitachi
Informal Feminine atashi atashitachi
Masculine boku bokutachi
Rude ore orera
You Formal Unisex anata anatagata
Polite anatatachi
Informal kimi kimitachi
Rude Masculine o-mae orera
Him / Her / Them Formal Unisex ano kata ano katagata
ano hito ano hitotachi
Informal Male/Mixed Group kare karera
Female Group kanojo kanojotachi
Reflexive Unisex jibun jibun

Interrogative Pronouns

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."

What nani Where Plain doko
When itsu Polite dochira
What time nanji How Plain nanide
Who Plain dare Polite douyatte
Polite donata How... ...much (cost) ikura
Why Plain nande ...many years/objects ikutsu
Polite doushite ...much/far/long [uncountable] donogurai
Formal/Strong naze ...many objects nan[counter] (ex. nan'nin, nankai)

Demonstrative Pronouns (& Adjectives)

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

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

Japanese Numbers


Basic Numbers

Fractions & Decimals


Traditional Numbers

Telling Time

Hours & Minutes


Months & Years

Japanese Counters

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
Small, compact ko Liquids hai
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

Counting Time

Hours & Minutes


Months & Years