Be careful with pronouns for "you"

This is a very common experience among Japanese teachers. A student asks, "Sensei, can I call you おまえ?"

Then Japanese teachers tend to be at loss for words for a moment because it is only okay to use that word between close male friends. Never, I mean never address your teacher with that word. It is rude and rather condescending. Then this student continues, "How about てめえ? Or maybe きさま?" Unfortunately, these are also not acceptable. It is a very rude way to address someone. However, if you are trying to make an enemy, it would be a different story. I don't blame my students. These are commonly seen in manga and anime scripts. My students believed these are friendly words and they just wanted to be nice. So when I replied,

"If you call me おまえ, I wouldn't be your friend," they are usually confused. There are pros and cons when learning Japanese through anime. This is definitely a case of cons. To learn the proper way of addressing 'you' in Japanese, please watch Japanese dramas or talk shows. They speak more naturally, which are commonly seen in casual conversations. So, what is the right word for "you"? It depends on your gender and personality. あなた is always the safest and formal way to address someone.

However, please keep in mind that Japanese people tend to avoid using the word 'you'. Instead, they just use names. If you want to ask someone if they would like some tea, you would say "xx さんお茶いかがですか?” And when asking if they like something, in this case, tea then you would say "xxさん、このお茶好きですか?”

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