Japanese I-9-16

With lessons 1-16 of the Pimsleur Japanese I course we should be able to understand most of the following clips from ‘Shigatsu wa kimi no uso” (Your lie in April).


The honorific that we use when addressing a person says what we think of our relationship with this person. In the clip below, from ‘Your lie in April’ – Ep. 18, a boy addresses the teacher of a girl using the teacher’s name, Arima Kousei, without using the honorific ‘sensei’ (teacher), and the girl goes into a rage at the insult.

The two default honorifics are ‘sama’ and ‘san’, both gender-neutral, with their respective casual forms that convey affection:

very polite


chan, kun (君)

very casual

‘chan’ is most commonly used for females, but it can be used for males, e.g., Japanese people affectionally refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as ‘shuwa-chan’. On the other hand, ‘kun’ is most commonly used for males, but it can be used for females.

There are many other ways to refer to someone:

  • [last name] ‘dono’ means ‘lord’ so it is more polite than ‘sama’; it is used specially in business and official letters
  • [last name] ‘sensei’ (先生, せんせい) means ‘born before’; it is the respectful way to address teachers and physicians
  • [last name] ‘senpai’ is someone ‘before’ (先-, sen-) of us, similar to a mentor, e.g., a student in a higher grade, or a co-worker with more seniority
  • [last name] ‘kouhai’ is someone ‘after’ (後-, kou-) us, similar to a protégé, e.g., a student in a lower grade, or a co-worker with less seniority
  • [last name] – casual, used with close friends
  • [first name] – very intimate, used by family and childhood friends

Another way to address someone is with a nickname. The first go-to suffixes that females use to address other people, when -chan or -kun are not appealing enough, are -chin, -cchi, and -rin, which are similar to diminutives that we can apply to either the first or last name.

There are many other honorifics. For example, in ‘My Hero Academy’, All-Might addresses his teen-age students as ‘shounen’ and ‘shoujo’ (Young man, Young woman), e.g., ‘Midoriya shounen’; this is similar to Capt. Picard, in the Star Trek series, addressing Wesley as ‘Young Wesley Crusher’.

In general, been able to call someone with a more intimate honorific (or without one) is a sign of the evolution and closeness of the relationship. Still, regardless of the closeness, often an honorific remains, not as a sign of distance, but of respect; for example, I had an American acquaintance who had been married to a Japanese lady for about 10-12 years, who addressed her (at least in public) as ‘Miki-san’.

mata ashita, moshi-moshi Ep.1

Then… see you tomorrow.
hum… see ya. hello? (on the phone)


sore-dewa. mata ashita.
aa. mata ashita. moshi-moshi?

それでは。また あした。
ああ。また あした。ましもし?

ja. mata ashita.
aa. mata. moshi-moshi?

じゃ。また あした。

  • In this context, ‘sore-dewa’, ‘sore-ja’, ‘dewa’, and ‘ja’ are all interchangeable.

ja, mata, ashita Ep.6

Eng: See ya…
      hum… See you tomorrow

lit: Then…
      hum… again tomorrow


hai. mata ashita.

はい。 また あした。

un… mata ashita.

うん… また あした。

kore, ga, no Ep.8

Eng: This is Aiza’s Chopin.

lit: This! This is Aiza’s Chopin.


kore ga aiza kun no shopan desu.
これが あいざ くんの ショパン です。

kore ga aiza no shopan.
これが あいざの ショパン。

  • the ‘ga’ particle emphasizes what comes before it, while ‘wa’ emphasizes what comes after it.

watashi/boku/ore, wo, te form Ep.13


watashi wo mite kudasai (4 times)
わたしを 見て ください。

ore wo miro!
watashi wo miro!
watashi wo miro!
boku wo miro!

おれを みろ!
わたしを みろ!
わたしを みろ!
ぼくを みろ!

  • ‘boku’ and ‘ore’ are casual forms of ‘watashi’; ‘boku’ has a connotation of being respectful, while ‘ore’ has one being manly, tough, and confident.
  • ‘mite’ is the imperative of ‘miru’ (to look); ‘miro’ is used when you are angry
  • we mark with を the direct objects of verbs, and with が the direct objects of adjectives.
  • the particle を is most often pronounced ‘o’, in spite that it is written as ‘wo’.

wa, ni, arimasen Ep.16

Eng: My bag is not at school

lit: The bag? It does not exist at the school


kaban wa gakkou ni arimasen.
カバンは 学校に ありません。

kaban, gakkou ni nai
カバン、学校に ない。

  • Kawori is apologizing so she speaks formally to Kousei
  • ‘kaban’ is bag or briefcase
  • ‘gakkou’ is school

desu/da, watashi/boku Ep.16

Eng: I’m a fool.
      Ah, it’s snow.

lit: Me? I’m a fool.
      Ah, it’s snow!


watashi wa baka desu. aa, yuki desu!
わたしは ばかです。ああ、ゆき です。

boku wa baka da. aa, yuki da!
ぼくは ばかだ。ああ、ゆき だ。

  • ‘boku’ is a casual form of ‘watashi’
  • ‘kaba’ is ‘fool’, or ‘idiot’
  • ‘da’ is the casual form of ‘desu’
  • ‘yuki’ is ‘snow’