Alternative spellings



Compound of (a, distal pronoun marker, indicating something far away from both speaker and listener; also found in あれ (are, that, far away), あそこ (asoko, there, far away), etc.) +‎ (na, possessive, ancient compounding alternative for particle (no)) +‎ (ta, direction, side, place, only found in ancient terms).[1]

Originally meant that direction, that side, that place (far away), in contrast to そなた (sonata, that direction, that side, that place (closer to the listener)), こなた (konata, this direction, this side, this place (close to both listener and speaker)), and どなた (donata, which or what direction, side, or place). Appears with this sense at least as early as the Kokin Wakashū of the late 900s,[1] and the Kagerō Nikki of 974 CE.[2]

The indirect and polite sense of that person is also evident in texts from the late 900s, including the Ochikubo Monogatari.[1]

The sense of you as a polite and indirect form of reference appears in texts from around the 1750s.[1] Unrelated to Arabic أنت.


  • The you and that person senses only ever have pitch accent [2] (nakadaka). The that direction or side sense may have either pitch accent, with pitch accent [1] (atamadaka) more common.



あなた (anata

  1. 貴方, 貴女, 貴男: you (second-person pronoun)
    • 1908, Natsume Sōseki, Yume Jūya [Ten Nights of Dreaming]‎[1]:
      “Hi ga deru deshō. sore kara hi ga shizumu deshō. Sore kara mata deru deshō, sōshite mata shizumu deshō.――Akai hi ga higashi kara nishi e, higashi kara nishi e to ochiteiku uchi ni,――Anata, matteiraremasu ka”
      "The sun will rise, yes? And then the sun will set, yes? And then it will rise again, and it will set again, yes? —While the red sun falls, from east to west, from east to west —Would you be able to wait it out?"
    1. 貴女: (to a female) you
    2. 貴男: (to a male) you
  2. 貴方: (women's speech) dear, darling, sweetheart (term used by a wife to address her husband)
  3. 貴方, 彼方: (uncommon) that person (far from both speaker and listener)
  4. 彼方: (uncommon) that direction, that side, that place (far from both speaker and listener)
    yama no anata
    that side of the mountain, the far side of the mountain

Usage notes


The you sense is spelled most often in hiragana in modern usage. The 貴方 spelling is gender-neutral. Alternative spellings include 貴女 when referring to females and 貴男 when referring to males.

あなた (anata) is the most neutral second-person singular pronoun. If names or titles are known, these are used more commonly when addressing people.

Derived terms



  • Aleut: anatax̂ (Japanese person)
  • Min Nan: 阿娜達阿娜达 (a-na-ta, dear)

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Shōgaku Tosho (1988) 国語大辞典(新装版) [Unabridged Dictionary of Japanese (Revised Edition)] (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, →ISBN
  2. ^ 974, Kagerō Nikki (“The Mayfly Diary”), by Michitsuna's mother (in Japanese), text available online here
  3. 3.0 3.1 Matsumura, Akira, editor (2006), 大辞林 [Daijirin] (in Japanese), Third edition, Tokyo: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  4. 4.0 4.1 NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute, editor (1998), NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 [NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary] (in Japanese), Tokyo: NHK Publishing, Inc., →ISBN