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What’s the Difference Between “Anata” & “Kimi”?

What’s the Difference Between “Anata” & “Kimi”?

Like air, food, and water, communication is also necessary for human survival and language is the greatest tool to communicate with other fellow beings.

If you move across the globe and try to find out how many languages are spoken all over the world, you will be surprised to know that approximately there are 6,909 distinct languages are spoken on this planet. Still, we’re confused about the basics of the top-ranked languages known by the people.

Japan is one of the eldest civilizations and the culture they have has its own diversity. Today we are going to discuss the differences between two widely used Japanese words- Anata and Kimi.

Anata and Kimi both mean “You”. These words belong to the Japanese language and are used to address the subordinates.

People often confuse these words with you but it is not that simple.

Let’s keep on exploring the meanings and differences between Anata and Kimi.

What Does Anata Mean?

If stating it simply, the word “Anata” can be used as the substitute for the word “You” in English.

But using it appropriately with keeping the Japanese culture in mind is also very important. Here are a few things you must keep in mind before using Anata in a conversation:

  • It is a polite word.
  • Anata is used for subordinates.
  • The word represents the humbleness of the person who is speaking.
  • Anata is used in a formal situation like an interview.

It takes time to master the art of any language and it will surely take more time for a language like Japanese but I believe that it’s worth it!

What Does Kimi Mean?

Kimi is another word for the English word You but as compared to Anata this word is less formal or less polite.

Like Anata, Kimi is also used for subordinates or by the elderly to the younger people but not in a humble way. It is mostly spoken in the inner circle because people know what the person actually means and what is the relation between those two people.

If you don’t know someone and you use the word Kimi in a conversation, be ready to involve in an argument to state the least.

Japanese culture is all about ranking and the way you address someone highlights their rank. If you’re new to the language, it’s better to address people by name than to address them otherwise.

Kimi is also used in more serious conditions when a person wants the other person to know that he is the one holding the upper position like a boss to an employee, an interviewer to an interviewee, a teacher to his student, and a husband to his wife.

It can be said that Kimi is used for showing anger in a way to the people in your closer circle. Japanese people are very conscious about their inner and outer circles and they keep a check on them.

two people talking
Mastering Japanese Language Needs Consistency

Is Saying Anata Rude?

In Japanese culture, people address each other according to their positions, professions and rankings. And it is considered extremely rude if you frequently address the subject with a word like You. That is why saying Anata many times can be seen as rude in Japan.

Also, if a student is talking to his or her teacher and uttering the word Anata while the student wanted to use You in the sentence, the situation will go wrong because that will be extremely rude for a student or any low-ranked person to say Anata to a high-rank person.

If you’re planning to visit Japan or make a move to study or live there for a long time, my advice is to keep yourself updated with their culture.

Things that might be common in your culture may make you a misfit for the Japanese culture and obviously, you wouldn’t want that.

For Japanese people, the concept of the inner circle and the outer circle is also very important, and addressing someone in accordance with their rank can help you with better adjustment.

a class with a teacher writing something on a blackboard
Japanese Culture Pays Importance to Social Ranks

What Is The Difference between Anata And Omae?

Most people know Japanese words through their love for anime while some of them are really into learning Japanese for personal reasons.

Just like Anata and Kimi, Omae also means You.

That must have got you thinking that how come just one pronoun in Japanese can have more than one word to be used. Truly speaking, there are a few other words as well that mean You too!

The Japanese language is not limited and learning it requires effort and time but the proper use of it may take forever for a beginner.

While Anata and Omae both mean the same, the former is considered less disrespectful than the latter. If you’re using Omae with someone in your inner circle and that person doesn’t care much about this word then you’re good to go but using it with a stranger is considered very very rude.

Check out the following table for the pointed differences between Anata and Omae.

AnataOmae
MeaningYouYou
FormalityFormalInformal
CircleOuterInner
Considered asSomewhat politeExtremely rude
PreferenceName or family nameName or family name
What is the difference between Anata and Omae?

See this video and learn more words like these three and their proper usage.

Japanese You Pronouns Explained

To Sum It All Up

Learning a new language is never easy and especially when it is as versatile as the Japanese language.

Whether it is Anata or Kimi, which both mean “You”, never use the word unless you don’t know the proper usage and the person you’re referring to.

The words are considered rude in fact Japanese people prefer using a person’s name or family name while addressing the person or else they ignore the pronoun altogether. Also, using pronouns more than once in a sentence is also considered unnecessary and rude.

Just like Anata and Kimi, there is another word Omae which is considered even ruder than these two words. Always pay attention to what circle you’re in the referred person’s life because the Japanese are very conscious about the inner and outer circle in their life.

Moreover, these words also indicate who is superior to whom in a situation because these words are used for the subordinates by their superiors and if used otherwise, you’ll be the rudest person in the room.

Interested in reading something more? Check out What is the difference between “está” and “esta” or “esté” and “este”? (Spanish grammar)

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