How to say 'and you' in Japanese
This article will be eventually re-written and uploaded in the new website:
So the question was:
How do you say "and you" in Japanese? How is it used?
I have become amazed at how a simple question about the Japanese language may require a disproportionate amount of time and energy to be answered properly. It is believed to be one of the most difficult languages in the world for a reason, I guess.
There are thousands of ways to express “and you?” in Japanese. It all depends on the context of the conversation, the social context, your social standing and your interlocutor’s standing, your mood, your mindset, the weather, and several other factors.
Besides, a pure “and you?” doesn’t make sense, it doesn't even exist in Japanese; for this reason, I’ll have to discuss various sentences to cover different "and you?"-like scenarios.
Just kidding about the weather.
あなた anata: the typical not so polite, grammar book way
In the Japanese language, pronouns, in the English sense of the word, don't exist, but often we are told that あなた anata means "you". Well yes, kind of, but that's because "you" is a very good candidate for an English translation; it doesn't mean that あなた anata IS "you".
Let's see some sentences first. The translations are inaccurate by choice, because I am trying to emphasize the latent meanings of the phrases by revealing them manifestly. It is more accurate to say that they are interpretations, not translations. I've provided exact translations for individual words below in order to compensate.
あなたはどうですか？ Anata wa dou desu ka?
"And you, how about it?”, "And how about you?"
あなたもどうですか？ Anata mo dou desu ka?
"And you, would you like ~ too?"
Anata wa dou shimasu ka?
"And you, what are you going to do?"
"How are you going to deal with it?"
Anata wa dou omoimasu ka?
"And you, what do you think?”, "What is your opinion?”
は wa, particle positioned after the theme of a sentence, in this case あなた anata. The theme is similar to the English subject.
どう dou "how”.
です desu, the copula; think of it as a surrogate for "to be”, "it is”.
か ka, interrogative particle, used to ask questions.
も mo, "also, too".
します shimasu "to do", the normal/polite form of the verb する suru.
思います omoimasu "to think, to believe", the normal/polite form of the verb 思う omou.
This use of あなた anata is dangerous, as it can become rude in the wrong context. Be cautious. A teacher could speak like this to his/her students, but not the other way around.
あなた anata, which is often carelessly taught to just mean “you”, doesn’t mean “you” at all after all, since there is no such a thing in Japanese. It’s just a word that designates the other party involved in a conversation.
This word is sometimes written in 漢字 kanji like so:
where the first character, 貴 KI, means “esteemed, honorable”, and the second one, 方 kata, is a polite word for “person”. Can you see it's just another noun, like 新聞 shinbun "newspaper" or 電車 densha "train", and not a pronoun? It is translated as "you" merely because there is no better word for it in English.
A thousand words for "you"
If there are no real pronouns, then asking something like “and you?” becomes a matter of choosing the right noun. So allow me to show you a number of acceptable nouns with an explanation of the appropriate contexts in which they can be expected to be used.
I’m going to introduce these actors that will allow me to clarify things in a systematic way: 太郎 Tarou (a 25 years old man, our point of view), his mom/dad, his big sister/brother, his little sister/brother, his best friend, his senior (a friend or colleague older than him that he respects or has to respect), his girlfriend, his boss, his colleague (same status), his subordinate at work, his friend’s mom/dad, a child (not related).
君 kimi: because I'm cooler than you
君 kimi “you”, often written in hiragana, きみ kimi, can be used by our 太郎 Tarou with the following actors:
his girlfriend (common, normal), his best friend (fairly common, normal), his subordinate (a little authoritative), his little brother/sister (a little authoritative), a child (a little authoritative).
He would be very rude if he used this word with his mom, dad, senior, friend’s mom, boss. It is rude with his big sister and brother. With his same status colleague it depends on how close they are, and how he feels about him. If they are buddies it's usually fine.
With this word you can’t use the phrases I showed you above, the ones with あなた anata. We need different, less formal phrases. We can also add a few phrases because 君 kimi is informal enough to allow them. All the following phrases are of colloquial Japanese (casual register).
君は？ Kimi wa?
"And you, how about it?”, "How about you?”
君はどう？ Kimi wa dou?
"And you, how about it?”, "How about you?”
君もどう？ Kimi mo dou?
"You too then?”, "How about it?”
君はどうなの？ Kimi wa dou nano?
"And you, how about it?”, "How about you?”, "Have you made up your mind yet?"
君はどうする？ Kimi wa dou suru?
"And you, what do you want to do?”, "And you, do you want to do it as well?"
君はどう思う？ Kimi wa dou omou?
"And you, what do you think?”, "What’s your say?”
Vocabulary (only the new words):
なの nano, in this case it's some kind of interrogative copula similar to ですか desuka, which I showed above in the あなた anata section.
する suru, "to do".
思う omou, "to think", "to believe". Compare する suru and 思う omou with their polite forms in the あなた anata section above.
お前 omae: ...you talkin' to me?
お前 omae “you”, often written in hiragana, おまえ omae, is normally rude. Just never use it, unless you've been living in Japan for a long time and you know exactly what you are doing. But let’s see how 太郎 Tarou would use it.
He can choose to use it with his girlfriend (slightly authoritative or just authoritative), his best friend (normal), his subordinate (authoritative), his little brother/sister (authoritative), a child (authoritative). In all the other cases it can be rude or extremely rude, or even insulting/abusive.
It is used with the 君 kimi phrases, not the あなた anata ones.
Name of the person + honorific suffix
This is definitely your best bet. The most important honorific suffixes are:
さん san. Standard, neutral form, sometimes translated as Mr. 太郎 Tarou can use it with his boss, his same status colleague, his subordinate, his friend’s mom. In all other cases it would sound very weird. A very old-fashioned wife would address her husband using this honorific. Nowadays it is used by teachers to address children in schools because of its "neutrality". The point is that using 君 kun and ちゃん chan is too gender specific. The Western political correct poison is starting to take effect.
さん san is normally used with the あなた anata phrases.
様 sama, often written in hiragana, さま sama. Used to show great respect. Pretty rare, it would take long to describe situations in which it is appropriate. It also probably requires higher register variations of the phrases we have been using. Let's leave this one.
君 kun, often written in hiragana, くん kun. If it looks familiar it’s because it’s the same character for 君 kimi, if you can remember it. You can only read it “kun” here though. 太郎 Tarou can use it only with his subordinate, or a child (boy), maybe his same status colleague depending on their relation. It is used with the 君 kimi sentences. A girl can use it when addressing her boyfriend.
君 kun is normally used with the 君 kimi phrases.
ちゃん chan. 太郎 Tarou will use it to address a child (usually girl, but perfectly fine with boys), or, if he wants to show affection, with his little sister (but not his little brother), subordinate (female, even male if their personality is thought to be “cute”), same status colleague depending on their relation, animals.
ちゃん chan is normally used with the 君 kimi phrases.
Tanaka san wa dou omoimasuka?
"And you, Mr Tanaka, what do you think?" (polite)
Takeshi kun wa dou suru? issho ni kuru?
"What do you wanna do Takeshi, you coming with us?" (colloquial)
Hitomi chan mo dou? aisu tabetai?
"And you Hitomi, do you want to eat ice cream too?" (colloquial)
You can even omit the honorific suffix altogether, like:
昭どうするの？ Akira dou suruno?
"What's your decision Akira?" (colloquial, a little blunt)
This is called 呼び捨て yobisute, from 呼ぶ yobu "to call" and 捨てる suteru "throw away", and is translated as "the act of calling someone without an honorific". It's okay with good friends (very good), boyfriend/girlfriend, little brothers/sisters, usually not with big brothers/sisters.
Let's be more specific about "you"
For the remaining actors we need specific words.
お母さん okaasan "mother”, also someone else's mother.
母さん kaasan "mom”, "ma”.
お袋 ofukuro "mom”, "ma”.
お父さん otousan "father”, also someone else's father.
父さん tousan "dad”, "pa”.
親父 oyaji "dad”, "pa”.
お姉さん oneesan "big sister”, also someone else's big sister.
姉さん neesan "big sis”.
お兄さん oniisan "big brother”, also someone else's big brother.
兄さん niisan "big brother” version of "big sis”.
先輩 senpai “your senior”, at school, at work, at the gym, or any other context. It all boils down, again, to the degree of respect you hold for that person, if you feel that it would be rude to consider him/her your equal because the person deserves more respect. Maybe he/she is simply older than you and, in that particular situation, the social chemical reaction that takes place impels you to address him as 先輩 senpai.
先生 sensei “teacher, master”, anyone who is a master of an art or craft. Today (31 July) is the birthday of my favorite horror manga artist, 伊藤潤二 Junji Ito. My tweet to him was something along the lines of “Happy Birthday Sensei”.
With your boss, just use the appropriate title in the company.
社長 shachou "company president”.
部長 buchou "department chief”.
課長 kachou "section chief”.
You can also omit the “you” bit altogether and just use the sentences above without it. It's usually fine, if you have already addressed the person properly previously, but caution is advised.
どう思う？ Dou omou?
"It's good, isn't it?", lit. "what do you think?" (colloquial)
Just remember that there are infinite more ways to say “you”, or to express the phrases we've discussed. If you want to learn them my advice is: watch a lot of anime, read a lot of manga.
Just for fun
Here are a few examples of phrases from colloquial Japanese, and Japanese slang.
お前はどうすんの？Omae wa dou sunno.
"Whatcha gonna do?” (slang, very blunt, can be rude)
あんたどう思う。 Anta dou omou.
"What do you think”. (colloquial, very blunt, can be very rude)
で、どうなの？ De, dou nano?
"So, what then?”
"I'm waiting, make up your mind already!" (colloquial, blunt)
どうするんですか？ Dou surun desu ka?
"What do you want to do then?” (polite, usually normal, can be blunt or even rude depending on the context; e.g., it can be use when the person who is asking is impatient or annoyed)
テメエはどうなんだ Temee wa dou nanda.
"And how about you, you bastard?” (slang/colloquial, usually openly insulting, it probably sounds familiar because of anime; sometimes used jokingly between friends)
You translate this one. :D