Words for oneself ― boku, ore, watashi

July 8th, 2013By Category: Uncategorized



In Japan, there are many words for talking about oneself.
For men in particular, in addition to watashi, there are boku, ore etc.

A person will use the above three words differently depending on who they are
speaking with.

Commonly used in public places ― watashi
When speaking to a person somewhat close ― boku
When speaking to a subordinate or someone very close ― ore

Japanese men use the above three words tactfully depending on who they are
speaking with and the situation.
When meeting for the first time, “watashi,” when you have become somewhat
close with them, “boku,” and when you have become very close with them, “ore.”

Those who study Japanese usually start from “watashi.” You should try using
“boku” as well.
“Ore” is very difficult to use properly. If you use it in a first meeting, you may give a
rough, negative impression.

Please try observing the words that people around you are using.


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The Iidabashi Japanese Language School motto is “Be Unique, Have fun Globally!” We teach classes focused on conversation skills to foreigners living in Japan, and have started a Japanese conversation class called “Japanese Plus” based on a new concept, and launched a fresh website in August 2012 to coincide with the twelfth anniversary of our school’s founding.

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Author of this article

Iidabashi Japanese Language School

The Iidabashi Japanese Language School motto is "Be Unique, Have fun Globally!" We teach classes focused on conversation skills to foreigners living in Japan.

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  • Sarah Malek says:

    I’ve been told that typically, one is not supposed to use anything other than “watashi” as a woman. Or at least, I got some giggles when I used “boku”.

  • Marie says:

    My boyfriend uses “ore” 95% of the time (he’s that kind of guy, lol). The only time he uses “boku” is when he’s trying to be polite to someone he doesn’t know at all (shop staff, customers, or company people). He uses his own name with me but doesn’t say watashi.