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Use of "anata", "kanojo", and "kare"

steverino

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I was told recently by a friend of mine who speaks good Japanese that the use of these pronouns in Japanese can either mean a close intimacy (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) or the opposite (purposefully keeping an emotional distance). Would any Japanese speakers like to share their thoughts on this?
 

GaijinPunch

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Kare can mean boyfriend, or simply "him". Same goes with Kanojo. "Girlfriend" or "her". Anata can mean "you" or another term of endearment. There's a good thread here somewhere on 'anata'. I stated that about the only time you hear it is when someone needs to address you, but other words like "okyakusan" won't work. The other two you need to take in context.
 

steverino

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Thanks for your reply. However, my friend told me that I should not use these pronouns unless I am intimate with them. In other words, if I said, "Kanojo wa boku no tomodachi desu," I would be saying that I have some sort of romantic relationship with her. He said that I should use her name or just skip the subject altogether if it is obvious who I am talking about. Is that right?
 

Index

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Using anata towards people you don't know is a little unusual I think, not too polite.
 

orochi

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Kare and kanojo can be used to mean either the pronouns him and her or to mean boyfriend or girlfriend, as the poster above mentioned. The difference between the two needs to be discerned from context. Your sentence, "Kanojo wa watashi no tomodachi desu" is fine. It translates to "She is my friend" with no subcontext or hints at a deeper relationship. On the other hand, you could say something like, "Watashi no kanojo" and that means "My girlfriend."

Anata is, as was mentioned, a pronoun meaning "you." Between a couple, it can also be used to mean "dear." It seems to be mostly used between older couples, though. It's definitely not a hip or trendy term.

In general, usage of pronouns (especially second person pronouns) should be avoided if possible. Using the person's name is your best route. Referring to someone as he or she to a third party is fine, but if you know his or her name, use that instead.
 

John Lemon

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Index said:
Using anata towards people you don't know is a little unusual I think, not too polite.
I thought it was the other way around, I thought "anata" was okay to use if you 're talking to a stranger (I mean, what else are you supposed to use if you don't know their name?) but if you're talking to someone whose name you know, using anata may come across as cold or rude. Of course, "anata" as a term of endearment is another matter, here it's pretty much synomymous to darling or honey. Can someone confirm/deny this? o_O
 

orochi

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It's a good idea to ask somebody's name when you meet them. If you absolutely have to, use anata.
 

dc_johnson45

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John Lemon said:
I thought it was the other way around, I thought "anata" was okay to use if you 're talking to a stranger (I mean, what else are you supposed to use if you don't know their name?) but if you're talking to someone whose name you know, using anata may come across as cold or rude. Of course, "anata" as a term of endearment is another matter, here it's pretty much synomymous to darling or honey. Can someone confirm/deny this? o_O
I think when you use anata with a stranger, a context where you are being purposely distant from the person is assumed. This may be fine for the context that you want, but if you were say approaching someone on the street to ask directions or the time, I would avoid anata.

Even in intimate situations, I believe the slightly demeaning quality of the word is kept, just not acknowledged. It may be deep in the subtext, but its not purposely meant, just part of the intimacy... much like we might call a wife 'silly', or use a slightly demeaning nickname for them, but not meaning it.. just a kind of intimate teasing.

I think the real danger may come in using the word in a close relationship that has no intimacy. You wouldn't use the word when addressing, say, your father-in-law. He would most likely become offended. You definately wouldn't use the word addressing your boss, landlord, or someone with a slightly superior relationship with you.

Just my $.02
 

rajs20

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So, if you met someone on the street and wanted to ask their name, how would you do it? You could say, "namae wa?", "namae wa nan desu ka?", "anata no namae wa?", "anata no namae wa nan desu ka?" etc.

I'm guessing "namae wa?" is rude because it seems kind of brusque. I mean, if you just went up to someone and said in english, "name?" they'd probably look at you funny... Also if anata is rude, then maybe the correct one is "namae wa nan desu ka?"
 

lv426

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I would think "sumimasen, namae desu ka" would be alright, I've never heard of the fact anata should not be used with strangers we use it all the time in my lessons and its even used in my text book. The only other word I know meaning you is "onore" and "kisama" and in both cases their rude, especially "kisama" which implies that you hate the person being addressed. So what should be used instead of "anata"?
 

Index

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You can say a lot of things in Japanese without using personal pronouns; in the case of a two person interaction, your interlocutor will generally assume you are addressing him or her, unless you are talking about a third party in which case you would specify that. When asking for names, it's enough to say (お)名前は何ですか(おなまえはなんですか)without using the personal pronoun.
 

Elizabeth

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お名前を知りたい場合は、(When you want to know a name)

お名前を教えてください。(Onamae wo oshiete kudadai.)
お名前を教えていただけますか?(Onamae wo oshiete itadakemasuka?) based on previous threads I think are the best ways...
 

lv426

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Quick question, is "onore" along the same sort of formality as "ore" as in not very formal at all. If you were using "ore" would you use "onore" as well, if you were relating to someone else.
 

Glenn

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Generally speaking ore is paired with omae, boku with kimi, and watashi with anata, but I don't think that these pairings are that strict.
 

budd

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"Would any Japanese speakers like to share their thoughts on this?"
meet more native japanese people
 
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