And kanji with manga
Sunday, August 6, 2017

anata あなた (Second Person Pronoun)

In Japanese, anata あなた means multiple things: "you," a second person pronoun, "they," a third person pronoun, and, sometimes, it's a way to call one's "husband."It's also spelled 貴方, 貴女, 貴男, and 彼方.

犯人は・・・あなただ!!! な!?
Manga: Detective Conan, Meitantei Konan 名探偵コナン (Chapter 1, 平成のホームズ)

Second Person Pronoun

Normally, the word anata means "you" in Japanese.

Compared to other second person pronouns, anata あなた is the more polite one.

犯人は・・・あなただ!!! な!?
Manga: Detective Conan, Meitantei Konan 名探偵コナン (Chapter 1, 平成のホームズ)
  • Context: the "great detective," meitantei 名探偵, doing his detective work.
  • han'nin wa... anata da!!!
    犯人は・・・あなた!!!
    The culprit... is you!!!
  • na!?
    な!?
    Wh!?
    (incomplete sentence.)
    • nani!?
      なに!?
      What!?

Plural

The word anata takes two pluralizing suffixes, ~tachi ~達, and ~gata ~方, the latter being more polite.

  • anata-tachi
    あなた達
    You and the others. You all. You guys.
    (plural.)
  • anata-gata
    あなた方
    (same meaning, more polite.)

The ~ra ~ら suffix, which lacks politeness, isn't used with anata.

For reference, some data:

Pluralizing Suffix Usage with Anata and Spelling by Number of Results on BCCWJ.
~ra ~tachi ~gata
たち がた
あなた 0* 0 611 78 577 657
アナタ 0 0 1 2 0 0
貴方 2* 0 11 17 14 3
  • Note: あなたら yielded results for anata rashii あなたらしい, "like you." 貴方ら yield 5 results, but only 2 were the suffix.

Avoidance

In spite of being the most polite, common second person pronoun, anata isn't used in Japanese as normally as "you" in English.

Japanese is a pronoun dropping language, which means sometimes you don't need to say "you" when talking about the second person. For example, if you ask a question, it's implicit the question is directed at a second person.

絵をかいているの。 うん、久しぶりに気持ちよくかけた。
Manga: Doraemon ドラえもん (Chapter 10, おせじ口べに)
  • e wo kaite-iru no.
    絵をかいているの。
    Are [you] drawing a picture?
  • un, hisashiburi ni kimochi-yoku kaketa
    うん、久しぶりに気持ちよくかけた
    Yes, for the first time in a while [I] was able to draw feeling good.
    • i.e. for the first time in a while, he was able to enjoy himself drawing.
    • kaketa - past form of the potential verb of kaku 描く, "to draw."

If you know someone's name, it's proper to refer to them by name, with a honorific suffix like ~san ~さん.

プハー 仕事終わりの1杯は最高だね!! 小林さんかわいい
Manga: Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Chapter 4, トールと嫉妬)
  • Context: Kobayashi 小林 goes to a nomikai 飲み会 with Tohru トール.
  • puhaa
    プハー
    *beer sigh*
    (onomatopoeia.)
  • shigoto-owari no ippai wa saikou da ne!!
    仕事終わり1杯最高だね!!
    The one glass [after]-work is the best, [isn't it]!!
    • owari - noun form of owaru 終わる, "to end."
    • shigoto-owari - end of work, i.e. after one's work ends.
  • Kobayashi-san φ kawaii
    小林さんかわいい
    Kobayashi-san is cute. (literally.)
    Mr. Kobayashi is cute. (awful translation.)
    [You], Kobayashi-san, are cute. (appositive translation.)
    Kobayashi-san, [you] are cute. (sentence-initial vocative translation.)
    [You] are cute, Kobayashi-san. (sentence-final vocative translation.)

A person can also be referred to by their title instead, like sensei 先生, "teacher," "doctor," among other meanings.

人間はやり直せる。 いまからでも遅くない・・・・・・ 先生・・・・・・ 先生と俺、あんまり年違わないけど・・・・・・・・・・・・ 先生・・・・・・親父みたいだ。
Manga: MONSTER, モンスター (Chapter 7, モンスター)
  • Context: a doctor talks to a patient in wheelchair, who is also a criminal.
  • ningen wa yari-naoseru.
    人間はやり直せる。
    Humans can do-over.
    Humans can [start again].
  • ima kara demo osokunai......
    いまからでも遅くない・・・・・・
    Even from now isn't late......
    • You can still start over, it isn't too late to begin now.
  • sensei......
    先生・・・・・・
    Doctor......
  • sensei to ore,
    anmari toshi
    chigawanai kedo............

    先生と俺、あんまり年違わないけど・・・・・・・・・・・・
    [You] and me, [our] ages don't differ much, but.........
    • We're about the same age, but...
  • sensei...... oyaji mitai da.
    先生・・・・・・親父みたいだ。
    [You]...... are like [my] father.

Even polite ways to ask someone's name don't require anata.

  • o-namae wo kiitemo yoroshii deshou ka?
    名前を聞いてもよろしいでしょうか?
    Is [it] alright if [I] ask [your] name?

Usage in Advertising

One case where anata is normally used is to advertise products "to you," "for you," as "your X," etc., in messages directed at individuals part of the public, where it's impossible to know their names.

  • anata ni pittari na nyuusu apuri
    あなたにぴったりなニュースアプリ
    A news app just for you.
    • A phrase used to advertise Hacka Doll, a now-defunct news app.

Anata-sama

The phrase anata-sama あなたさま is the pronoun anata with the polite honorific suffix ~sama ~さま. It's also spelled 貴方様. The phrase anata-san あなたさん with the less polite ~san ~さん suffix is also possible, but less common.

Using honorific suffixes with second person pronouns is unusual, but valid.

In anime, this sort of language is typically used by servants, butlers, etc., when speaking to guests.

Third Person Pronoun

Originally, anata was used as a third person pronoun.(dictionary.goo.ne.jp)

This happens because anata comes from the group of kosoado words konata, sonata, anata, donata こなた, そなた, あなた, こなた.

Following the kosoado pattern, the ko~ morpheme is closer to the speaker (my side, me, I), so~ is closer to the listener (you), and a~ would be far from both speaker and listener (he, she, they).

How kosoado words work, こそあど. An animated gif diagram.

"Husband"

The word anata can also be used by a wife to refer to her "husband," like "darling," "honey," etc. but it still just means "you."

Presumably, the reason for this is the proper, formal way to address someone is by name with honorific, and the less proper it gets the more familiar you sound, which is exactly why it can be considered disrespectful.

If it's okay to sound familiar, as opposed to formal, respectful and distant, then the honorific is dropped, and, in this case, the person isn't referred to by name, but by pronoun instead.

In anime, a scenario where this commonly happens is in the shinkon santaku 新婚三択 trope, where a newly husband is welcomed home by his wife who says okaerinasai anata おかえりなさいあなた and gives him three choices.

Anta

The word anta あんた is corruption of anata あなた.(デジタル大辞泉)

Since it's a corrupted word, it's less proper and won't sound as respectful. Unlike anata, anta can be used the non-respectful ~ra ~ら suffix to form anta-ra あんたら.

It's mainly used by women, but it's often used by men, too.It's particularly used by girls when calling out someone angrily, making it commonly used by tsundere ツンデレ characters when they're being tsun つん.(dic.nicovideo.jp)

勘違いしないでよね!! 別にあんたのためじゃにんだからね!!!
Manga: Nichijou 日常 (Chapter 44)
  • Context: a tsundere being a tsundere.
  • kanchigai shinaide yo ne!!
    勘違いしないでよね!!
    Don't get the wrong idea!
  • betsu ni anta no tame janai-n-dakara ne!!!
    別にあんたためじゃないだからね!!!
    [It] isn't [like I did it] for you [or anything]!!!

Kanji

The word anata can be spelled with kanji in multiple ways, but it's normally spelled with hiragana, as あなた. The most normal kanji spelling of anata is 貴方.

貴男, 貴女

The spellings 貴男 and 貴女 are used when te person "you" refers to is a "man," otoko 男, and a "woman," onna 女, respectively.

彼方

The spelling 彼方 is an archaic one used in the kosoado sense of anata.(dictionary.goo.ne.jp)

It's homonymous with kanata 彼方, "over there."

References

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