Gender language in the Japanese language

If you study the Japanese language, you should know that it includes several words or variants for a single thing. Many of these variations are related to culture, hierarchy, courtesy and formality. Today we are going to talk about gender language. The way in which men and women speak the Japanese language also often changes and has its variations.

If you study Japanese pronouns, you will find that there are different ways of speaking I and you separated by gender. There are also words, constructions and endings that are considered more masculine or more feminine. It is very noticeable that women speak very differently from men in Japan.

Feminine words are called onna kotoba (女言葉) the female conversation habits are called joseigo (女性語). The masculine words are called otoko kotoba (男言葉) and their conversation and language is danseigo (男性語). There is also the expression (女 / 男) らしい to refer to gender behavior.

Gender language in the Japanese language

The difference between men and women

The Japanese words and endings that tend to be popular among each gender aren't so important that you're embarrassed to be talking like a girl (or the other way around). There are things besides words that separate female and male language. Sometimes these words and endings end up helping with that.

Women tend to speak more softly and submissively. For this reason, she will choose softer and softer words while men will choose stronger, aggressive and direct words. It is worth remembering that gender language is only used in casual conversations, it is not usually used in writing or formal conversations.

Women tend to use polite forms of grammar more often. Although many animes use gender language, more and more women speak only neutral language without these feminine expressions. There are many variations, exceptions and rules that must be examined before reaching any conclusions.

Gender language in the Japanese language

You don't have to worry so much about language and gender when studying Japanese. As with keigo and formal language, you should save this for last in your studies. Usually you are learning the neutral way of talking and talking. Mainly because the language of gender is always changing.

Terminations and their genres

There are endings that are more appropriate to be pronounced by a certain gender. If we look closely at the linguistic evolution of Japan, we will see that women have started to create their own language, while much of the male language remains in the neutral pattern.

Japanese endings usually give emphasis or some special strength to the word or verb at the end of sentences. Women often use the following terminations:

  • わ - wa
  • わよ - wa yo
  • わね - wa ne
  • のね - no ne
  • のよ - no yo
  • No - no
  • だこと - da ko to
  • なの - na no
  • のねぇ - no nee
  • だわ - da wa
  • のよ - no yo
  • てよ - te yo

Men usually use the following terminations: 

  • や - ya
  • ぜぇ - zee
  • ぜ - ze
  • だぞ - da zo
  • だな - da na
  • だ - da
  • だね - da ne
  • な - na
  • さ - sa
  • ぞ - zo
  • かい - kai

Virtually all of the above examples used to be used by both sexes. Some are still kind of neutral and can be used by both, everything will depend on the occasion, the voice, the region and the final word of the sentence. Most of these endings gained genres after the Meiji era.

Girls usually ask more questions without using ka (か) or use expressions like の and なの. Boys use か in questions more often and also use perguntas e and だい.

Gender language in the Japanese language

Other points of gender language

Let’s see some examples of words, expressions and questions in the neutral, masculine and feminine. We recommend that you understand at least the basics of Japanese, as we will only use hiragana and some kanji from the N5.

Neutral Male Female
行く 行くよ 行くわよ
日本人 日本人だ 日本人だわ
高いのか? 高いのかい? 高いの?
何? 何だい? 何なの?
僕 / 俺 あたし


Japanese pronouns are separated by gender, but ironically Japanese nouns and words are not usually gendered. There is no such thing as the word cat and cat, just neko. In some rare cases, Japanese people use honorifics that can distinguish a neutral name, from female and male.

Hope you enjoyed the article! We appreciate the comments and shares. We recommend delving deeper into this difference in the female and male language of Japanese by reading the other articles below:

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