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Pronouns in Japanese course

In my Japanese class, we hardly use pronouns at all - I think it has something to do with politeness which apparently is a bit tricky when you use them. Yet the Duolingo course uses them all the time.

Question for native speakers or more advanced learners: how do you feel about the use of pronouns here?

Also, in a sentence like

かのしょは ジョンさんのおばさんです

the pronoun seems unnecessary (obviously an aunt would be a "she"), yet if I leave it out the answer is marked as incorrect.


June 21, 2017



Well at this point's we don't have the context, if some stranger would be asking which woman is your/John's aunt then you would use かのじょ, if it's obvious then no.


Oh ok, I guess in that scenario it would make sense!


But could someone address the politeness aspect? Like, I think I've heard that you just don't use あなた unless you are addressing someone you know well?


Either it is clear from context which person is addressed (for example looking at someone when asking a question) or Japanese people use names. It is especially wired if you would know a person very well and then address them by using あなた. One exception is that a wife might call her husband あなた


This does seem very strange and kind of off-color to me in trying to brush up on Japanese with duolingo.

Now, I'm not a native speaker, so clearly I don't have any expert opinion, but in four years of class and a homestay in Japan I never heard much use of pronouns at all. It was my understanding that あなた was for a spouse or very close relationship and pronouns like かのじょ for girlfriends and boyfriends. Now given other responses clearly there are times of appropriate use, but the duolingo lessons are not giving any context like that. They are giving the impression that use of pronouns is much like it is in English. That just seems... way off. The only way most of these situations were covered during my time studying Japanese they would have said あの人 or something to indicate the person, not used a pronoun. Has the language usage changed, or is duolingo giving an incorrect impression?

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