The Difference Between "Watashi Wa", "Boku Wa" and "Ore Wa" (2024)

Japanese is not as simple and neutral as the English language. It takes expertise and a course to understand it and use the correct words in the correct context.

There are several words in Japanese that have the same meaning but differ in terms of grammar and usage.

“Watashi wa”, “Ore wa”, and “Boku wa” are some of those words that have the same meaning but a kind of misinterpretation. They are some of the most frequently used words in the Japanese Language.

They all mean the same thing; “I am”. But “I” is expressed in many ways. It is used in a variety of ways by different people.

“Ore”isawordthatonlymachoguysuse. While “Boku” is used by less macho men, “Watashi” is reserved for women and those to whom you wish to show respect.

Here, I’ll address all these words along with the meaningful variations among them. Once you are with me throughout this article, you’ll grasp these words and their right use.

So why not just start to continue it already? What’s the wait? Let’s get to it right away.

In Japanese, What is the Difference Between “Watashi Wa,” “Boku Wa,” and “Ore Wa”?

It all depends on the level of formality you want to convey to the person you’re speaking with. While all of the words mean “I,” the tone of the conversation varies.

Watashi わたしis the word that is most commonly used in business contexts. And it implies a sense of respect, so

it’s especially appropriate when speaking to someone with a higher social position than you, such as your boss or someone similar.

There are many words used for “I” in Japanese. Some of them are “Boku” and “Ore” as well. They all vary in their contextual meanings.

The most common word used by the Japanese is “Boku.” (ぼく). That’s the phrase you’d say around your friends and acquaintances.

This implies that you and the person you’re speaking with are on the same social level, or that the individual has a lower social rank than you.

Both of these words mean “I” in the English Language.

Ore (おれ) is another frequently used word. This one implies that you are either above or quite close to the person with whom you are conversing.
As a result, if you use this with the wrong individual, it could be socially hazardous.

What Does Watashi Wa, Ore Wa, And Boku Wa Mean in Japanese?

To grasp the distinction between these phrases, you must first comprehend the Japanese concept of pragmatics.

Japanese, like many other languages such as French, Spanish, German, and others, uses distinct pronouns depending on who you’re speaking with.

Watashi is a generalized form of “I” that can be used for anything. It’s neutral and respectful. You’ll hear it in everyday conversation. It isn’t particularly associated with anything in particular.

On the other hand, Boku is a form of “I” that implies that the speaker is male and that the speaker is speaking in a casual context. Traditionally, only men are meant to use this pronoun, but it’s not impossible that today’s girls would use it as well.

It suggests that you and the person you’re speaking to are buddies or on an equal footing.

Talking about Ore, 

It’s a word that conjures up images of youth, vulgarity, and rudeness. It’s a nearly exclusively masculine form of “I” that’s popular among youngsters. This is a childish manner of addressing someone with whom you aren’t close or who isn’t your age.


All in all, I can say that you can simply delete the personal pronoun from your phrase if you don’t intend to upset anyone in the first place; in Japanese, you can usually figure it out from context.

The Difference Between "Watashi Wa", "Boku Wa" and "Ore Wa" (1)

How Can You Differentiate “Watashi”, “Ore” and Boku”?

The “Wa” in all of these terms indicates “you”, considering someone as a subject. It refers to the person who is speaking.

Watashi is an admitted polite pronoun. It would be used in business and other formal circ*mstances. Both men and women can use this pronoun in their conversation.

In Japanese, Boku is a less formal, more masculine variation of “I”. It’s something you’d use around your family, friends, and other people close to you. It’s mostly used by men, although it’s also used by some tomboys.

On the other hand, Ore was: Of all the characters, Ore is the most unique. It’s a colloquial way of saying “I.”
Using this might make you look like a fool or a cool guy, depending on your personality and who you hang out with. It’s an informal type of “I”.

Watashi Vs. Boku

To summarize, we can say that;


Whenspeakingwithothers,thephrase“Bokuwa”isfrequentlyused.It also means “I” in English.


The meaning of all of these words is the same, yet there are considerable variations in their usage in the Japanese Language.

Is “Watashi”a FeminineTerm?

It isn’t unless you’re speaking in a familiar language, for example, if you are talking to your friend. In such cases, males use Boku or ore and ladies may use atashi instead of Watashi.

Watashi is required in all formal circ*mstances (or even watakushi in some super-formal ones. Japanese teaches you to use “Watashi”. It is considered the most suitable and accurate one than others such as ore and Boku.

So, we are familiar with the fact that “Watashi” is used by males who are beginners in the Japanese language, while women use it as it is most accurate to be used by females.

Watashi Wa Vs. Ore Wa: What’s the Difference?

“Watashi” is a gender-neutral term for informal or courteous situations. When employed in an informal or casual setting, however, it is frequently seen as feminine. Men and young boys use the term “Boku.” Men frequently use the word “ore.”


When you use it with peers and people who are younger or have lower status, it establishes a sense of masculinity and highlights your position.
When used among close friends or relatives, it conveys familiarity rather than machismo or superiority. Those three words are used by Japanese guys depending on who they are chatting with.

You should utilize “Watashi” when meeting someone for the first time. You can also use “Boku” once you’ve gotten to know them a little better.

Then, if you’ve grown close to them, you can say “ore.” In the case of a lady, “Watashi” can be utilized whenever, whenever, and with whoever.

The Difference Between "Watashi Wa", "Boku Wa" and "Ore Wa" (2)

Is it Possible For Girls to Use Boku?

Boku denotes a man, while Kimi denotes a woman and is equivalent to Anatta. However, the girls use BOKU in several songs. It depends on who is the writer of the song.


  • Thesongwaswrittenbyaman,notawoman.
  • Thesongissungfromamale’spointofview.

I’ve recently heard girls refer to themselves as “Boku” or the even rougher form, “ore”, in some of the talk shows. This is still an extremely uncommon occurrence. The majority of girls who claim this have a tough personality or are at a rebellious stage in life.


No matter how tough a girl or boy speaks, when they start a job, this usually changes substantially because rough speaking is rude while speaking to a customer. Entering the workforce pushes some Japanese to learn to be polite and considerate.

Of course, it all depends on how the boy or girl was raised by their parents. The majority of Japanese people are naturally courteous.

Some of the most commonly used words of Japanese words along with their English translation are given in the table below:

Good morning
Excuse me.
Hai (はい)Yes
Arigatou gozaimasu
Konbanwa (こんばんは)Good evening/

What Does ‘Watashi Wa Ureshi Janai’ Mean?



If you’re interested, you can look up how to conjugate adjectives in Japanese on Google. One thing to keep in mind is that “happy” in English in this context appears to mean “content with life,” or “fulfillment.”

“Ureshii” isn’t a big-picture emotion, and it’s more commonly used for things like “I’m glad I got chosen,” or “I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better.”

Now, you know the meaning of this phrase and its correct grammatical use, right?

The Difference Between "Watashi Wa", "Boku Wa" and "Ore Wa" (3)

What is The Meaning of Boku Wa Tobi?

As we already know, Boku means “I” and “Wa” means “am”, but it has a lot of contextual meanings. It means “I am” in Japanese, so “Tobi” means “date,” so the phrase “Boku was Tobi” means “I want to date you.”

There are many different ways of using Boku wa in a conversion. Some of the examples are:

  • Boku wa Tobi- “I want to date you”
  • Sometimes Tobi refers to a name, so Boku wa Tobi means “I am Tobi”.

So, they differ in terms of their contextual uses. Overall, “Boku wa” means “I am.”

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, “Watashi,” “ore,” and “Boku” are three distinct words having quite similar meanings. They all mean “I”, yet they differ in terms of their preferred usage.
Watashi is a formal and courteous way of addressing yourself. Use this while speaking with your supervisor or someone older than you.

However, if you are a man and use it to communicate with your buddies, it may come across as aloof and chilly.
It’s fine if you’re a foreigner. People are aware that you are attempting to be courteous.

On the other hand, Boku or ore are used when you’ve gotten near enough to your allies. It’s not as formal as Watashi, but it’s more formal than Ore.

You can use it to communicate with your boss, friends, and others who are younger than you. When used among friends, it has a laid-back tone.

To know it better, one must know the pragmatics of the Japanese language and accurate grammar. It requires effort to learn.
But it’s not that difficult as we have many platforms available online that do us this favor.

Want to learn more about the Japanese language?

Check out this informative article: The Difference between Nani Desu Ka and Nani Sore- (Grammatically correct)

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The Difference Between "Watashi Wa", "Boku Wa" and "Ore Wa" (2024)


What is the difference between Ore wa Boku wa and Watashi wa? ›

Japanese men use those three words depending on who they are speaking to and the situation. When meeting someone for the first time, you should use “watashi”. And when you have become somewhat close to them, you can use “boku”. Then when you have become very close to them, you can use “ore.”

What is the difference between Boku and ore? ›

Boku - commonly used by little boys with family members or friends. Have a bit of childish/pure nuance. Ore - used by men and have a nuance where you put yourself higher than others. It's considered rude to be used in normal situation.

What is the difference between Watashi wa and Watashi wa? ›

To understand the phrase “watashi wa” better, the simplest way is to separate the two words. The Japanese term “watashi” translates to “I” in the English language, which is referring to one's self. On the other hand, the Japanese term “wa” represents the topic of the sentence being stated.

What does Orewa mean in English? ›

Ō: place of; rewa: a native tree, a contraction of rewarewa. Ōrewa originally referred to the river rather than the beachfront.

Do boys use Boku or ore? ›

Ore: usually the male who is over 16 to 18 years old call himself. Boku: usually the boy who is younger thatn 16 years old call himself.

Can girls use ore in Japanese? ›

Japanese women using both "Ore" and "watashi" depending on the context. I thought Japanese women only use Watashi whether the setting is formal or informal.. Until I saw a young woman on her early 20s using both Watashi and Ore pronouns on her casual conversations. (more watashi than ore) Apparently she's a celebrity.

Is Boku only for boys? ›

僕 (boku) carries a masculine impression; it is typically used by males, especially those in their youth. Japanese words that refer to other people are part of the encompassing system of honorific speech and should be understood within that context.

Is it okay for girls to say boku? ›

For women, it is almost strictly used amongst friends and family and almost never in a slightly more polite setting.

Can females use Boku or ore? ›

As you've implied, pronouns in Japanese are gendered and yes, “boku” is a pronoun primarily used by young males. There are a few possible explanations, the first of which is most likely: The “I” that's referenced in the song, is not the female singer, but a different male.

Can girls use Watashi? ›

Watashi: 私 (わたし)

In formal situations, it's the safest choice and doesn't carry any gender nuances. In casual speech, however, わたし can give off a “feminine” feel, and it's typically only used by women.

Can guys use Watashi wa? ›

"Watashi" is gender neutral, and either gender can use it. Foreigners, unless they're pretty confident with language and familiar with Japanese, they're talking to, are usually encouraged to use "watashi".

What does kaizoku ou ni naru mean? ›

"Kaizoku Ou ni,ore wa naru!" 🏴‍☠️ Translation: "I'm going to be king of the pirates"!

What does Nande Monai mean in Japanese? ›

A: Nandemonai.(I am OK) Helpful(3)

What does desu means? ›

Desu is a polite Japanese linking verb meaning “to be” as well other forms of the verb. Western fans of anime and manga sometimes add it to the end of sentences to sound cute and imitate Japanese.

Is Senpai unisex? ›

🧑‍💼 Senpai (先輩、せんぱい)

As with "Sensei" is used interchangeably by sex, and does not necessarily follows the name. You might find it transcribed as "sempai". Its opposite is "Kohai/kouhai" but it is rarely used when talking to someone.

Is Watashi wa feminine? ›

Watashi is grammatically gender-neutral, but in practice is rarely used by men outside of very formal occasions. Boku is more the "default" pronoun for men. A man who used watashi all the time would sound very feminine.

How do girls say I in Japanese? ›

The Feminine Pronoun: 私 (あたし) — Atashi

Although watashi is accepting of everyone, the pronoun atashi is primarily used by women. Japanese doesn't have helpful articles like the Spanish “el” or “la,” which can make learning about pronouns a little tricky. The vast majority of those using atashi are women.

Why do girls say atashi? ›

"Atashi/あたし" is kind of oral performance to express "I" (mostly used by female), and may give the listeners a softer/ more considerate feeling than the word ”・Watashi/わたし”.

What is the girl version of Boku? ›

BOKU is for males and KIMI is referring to a female and is equivalent to ANATA.

What is girl to girl Japanese called? ›

Yuri (Japanese: 百合, lit. "lily"), also known by the wasei-eigo construction girls' love (ガールズラブ, gāruzu rabu), is a genre of Japanese media focusing on intimate relationships between female characters.

What does Ora Ora mean in Japanese? ›

A yell, like "oi!" or "ayy!" or "hey!" or whatever. It gets used toward children or animals when they're doing something improper. You could translate it as "watch out" or "stop that!" depending on the situation.

Do tomboys use boku? ›

This term arises from the Japanese Pronoun boku, primarily used by boys and young men, and "ko", meaning "girl". Extreme tomboys may prefer the pronoun ore, normally almost exclusively used by "tough guys"; the term "ore-onna" (ore-woman) is mostly interchangeable with "bokukko". Also called "bokko".

Is there a gender neutral pronoun in Japanese? ›

Outside of work, Omochi most often refers to themself as 'jibun. ' Compared with watashi, which has been normalized as a gender-neutral pronoun, jibun can function as a statement piece. A person who only calls themselves 'jibun' wants to draw attention to their identity and their rejection of the gender binary.

Do Japanese girls ask guys out? ›

This sounds a bit creepy but it's not so much telling someone you love them but rather the Japanese way of letting them know you like them and asking them out. One thing that is very different in Japan is that it is not uncommon for a woman to ask a man out.

How to ask a Japanese girl out? ›

If he or she is single, you might wonder how to ask “will you go out with me?” in Japanese. Once again, the verb “tsukiau” will be one natural way to ask. A: 「ぼくと/わたしとつきあってもらえませんか?」 A: Boku to / Watashi to tsukiatte moraemasen ka?

Can you call your girlfriend senpai? ›

In informal use, senpai (also styled as sempai) can refer to anyone whose attention you want to get—that could be someone you admire and want to be friends with or someone you're interested in romantically.

What does Boku girl mean? ›

A Bokukko is, literally, a girl who uses the first-person Japanese Pronoun boku, primarily used by boys and young men.

What do you call females in anime? ›

'Dere' terms are mostly used to describe women, but fans are becoming more comfortable with using these terms to describe male characters as well. Whether you're a long-time anime fans or a novice, knowing this lingo important to your future with anime.

What is the female version of ore? ›

俺 /ore/ is used by MALE speakers only. The same thing goes for 僕 /boku/. 私 /watashi/ is used by female speakers and is gender-neutral, but any pronoun that has the context “you” or “I” in Japanese is considered impolite even if it's 貴方 being implied or 君.

Can you drop Watashi wa? ›

For example – (Watashi wa) Samu Desu.

In Japanese conversation – this can be seen as unnatural or weird. In English – the equivalent might be saying something like “I am the one who is Sam.” Versus “I am sam”. So in this case – we can omit the (Watashi wa) and simply say – “Sam desu.”

What gender is the pronoun Watashi? ›

This talk demonstrates how speakers linguistically enact innovative identities despite the restrictions imposed by linguistic norms. Japanese first-person pronouns are gendered; watashi for girls and women (and men in formal situations) and boku for boys and men.

How do you say sorry in Japanese? ›

One of the most casual and most frequently used words is "gomen" ごめん. You can make it more formal by saying "gomen-nasai" ごめんなさい or more friendly with "gomen-ne" ごめんね. "Warui warui" 悪い悪い or "my bad" is also a very casual way to say sorry.

What do Japanese call themselves? ›

Nihon-jin (日本人) (Japanese people)

Does Watashi wa mean I love you? ›

The most formal and neutral way to say 'I love you' in Japanese would be : 私はあなたが好きです。/ Watashi ha anata ga suki desu. Let's decompose this : 私 / 'watashi' = I, me. は / 'ha' (pronounce 'wa') is the particle for the subject.

Can you use kun for your boyfriend? ›

Kun is a semi-formal title for a man—primarily men younger or the same age as the speaker. Most frequently used for girls and small children, close friends, or lovers. Occasionally may be used to refer to a boy, but in most situations would be inappropriate.

What Japanese honorific would you use for a boyfriend? ›

Japanese Honorifics in Relationships

For boyfriends and girlfriends, you'll often use -ちゃん or -くん, or call them by their name. You can also call them 彼 (kare, “he” or “boyfriend”) and 彼女 (kanojo, “she” or “girlfriend”) when talking to others.

What does Anata mean in Japan? ›

Anata (あなた) is the Japanese word for "you". Anata may refer to: Anata, a Japanese language second-person pronoun, sometimes used by married couples to refer to their partners.

What does Luffy San mean? ›

San - used as a formal way of saying someones name. Chan - used to refer to someone younger than oneself or very close friends. Sama - Master (Luffy sama - Master Luffy) Dono - Mr. Senpai - someone senior.

What is Luffy's famous line? ›

1) “If I give up now, I'm going to regret it.” 2) “If you don't take risks, you can't create a future.” 3) “I don't wanna conquer anything. It's just that the person with the most freedom on the sea is the pirate king.”

What does Suki ni Naru mean? ›

好 す きになる- suki ni naru – to be in love

This expresses how you start to like someone. Since Japanese people don't often say the word “love” directly, suki ni naru can also express being in love.

What is the Japanese no waste word? ›

The Japanese have a word for the sense of regret they feel when something valuable is wasted: 'mottainai' (もったいない). It can be translated as “don't waste anything worthy” or “what a waste”, and has come to represent the island nation's environmental awareness.

What does chotto matte mean? ›

Chotto matte kudasai. / Please wait a moment.

[chotto matte kudasai] Use these Japanese words when you want someone to wait for you for a little bit.

What does Ka Ma mean in Japanese? ›

The kama (鎌 or かま) is a traditional Japanese farming implement similar to a sickle or billhook used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon. It is often included in weapon training segments of martial arts.

Is desu ka polite? ›

“Desu” is the polite form of the copula verb meaning “to be” or “is”. It is the verb used to describe two things as being equal, that is, X = Y. Typically, this will be done using the pattern: X wa Y desu.

What does daijoubu desu ka mean? ›

Originally, “DAIJOUBU” was used only with the meaning of “No problem” or “It's fine, no worries”. But from a certain point in history, young people started to use the word as “No, thank you” or “I'm good”, in situations where they want to refuse something.

What is daisuki desu? ›

Daisuki desu – 大好きです

Meaning: I really like (you) Pronunciation: dah-ee-skee dehs. About: If you want to level up your expressions of affection, adding dai, which means 'big', at the beginning to make daisuki desu is a great way of telling someone you love them. Or telling your ramen that you really, really like it.

What is Luffy's catchphrase in Japanese? ›

Kaizoku ou ni ore wa naru!” Luffy's quote that anyone who loves One Piece will know!

When should I use Watashi wa? ›

When a subject or topic is obvious, we tend to omit it in the Japanese language. If you are with a group of strangers and you decide suddenly to introduce yourself , you can say 'watashi wa'.

Is senpai unisex? ›

🧑‍💼 Senpai (先輩、せんぱい)

As with "Sensei" is used interchangeably by sex, and does not necessarily follows the name. You might find it transcribed as "sempai". Its opposite is "Kohai/kouhai" but it is rarely used when talking to someone.

What is Zoro's famous line? ›

One Piece: 10 Best Zoro Quotes
  • 3 "Scars on the back are a swordsman's shame."
  • 4 "What does 'teamwork' really mean, anyway? ...
  • 5 "Nothing happened." ...
  • 6 "Only I can call my dream stupid!" ...
  • 7 "How did I end up following a captain like this?" ...
  • 8 "There is someone I must meet again. ...
  • 9 "Hmph. ...
  • 10 "Fine! ...
Aug 14, 2020

What is Luffy's most famous line? ›

One Piece: 10 Powerful Quotes By Luffy
  1. 1 “I Still Have My Friends!”
  2. 2 “Don't You Dare Make My Navigator Cry” ...
  3. 3 “Say You Want To Live!” ...
  4. 4 “You Want To Keep Everyone From Dying? ...
  5. 5 “I Am Going To Save You Even If It Kills Me.” ...
  6. 6 “Power Isn't Determined By Your Size, But By The Size Of Your Heart And Dreams.” ...
Mar 31, 2023

What is Luffy's fake name? ›

"Three-Tongued" Demaro Black was the captain of the Fake Straw Hat Crew. He impersonated Monkey D. Luffy to benefit from his reputation, but was later arrested by Sentomaru.

Is it difficult to learn Japanese? ›

The Japanese language is considered one of the most difficult to learn by many English speakers. With three separate writing systems, an opposite sentence structure to English, and a complicated hierarchy of politeness, it's decidedly complex.

What is the female version of Boku? ›

BOKU is for males and KIMI is referring to a female and is equivalent to ANATA.

Does Japanese have a word for I? ›

Basic “I” in Japanese: 私 (わたし) — Watashi

The Japanese word watashi is a genderless term that translates to “I” in English. Japanese language textbooks often suggest it as one of the best overall terms to use to describe yourself.

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