How to Use Subjects in Japanese

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Discover how to use subjects in Japanese. Learn practical Japanese in this free video series on questions and subjects.

Part of the Video Series: How to Speak Conversational Japanese
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YUU ASAKURA: I'd like to take a minute to talk about the subject of the sentence. And unlike English, we don't really call people just the name itself, like Mike or Bob. What we do is add a little extra to make it as more friendly, more polite. Let's say my name is Yuu - that's Y-U-U - and you can add san, Yuu-san, or you can add chan. The difference is chan is--it's supposed to be for little kids or girls. It has more, like, a cute sound. See my parents always call me Yuu-chan. Or when I was a kid, everybody called me Yuu-chan. And san is in adults or make it very polite. So my co-worker will call me Yuu-san. Or somebody who I met for the first time will call me Yuu-san. So when you make address to someone, be careful that you just don't use a name, use san or chan, okay? And as for the subject goes, if it's clear that you are talking about someone or something, let's say I'm talking about you, like, the last five minutes, and if the next sentence is about you, I don't really have to address that you are. We just skip the subject. Let's say we've been talking about you and I wanted to say: Oh, you are so tall. Okay? Instead of you're tall, I would say tall. Se ga takai instead of anata wa se ga takai desu. Did it make sense? And it's the same thing as he or she. If it's obvious that you're talking about that person, just don't use it. You can just go right into the sentence.

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