Past Hokudai/Cast Entries

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Royal 'We' and the Impersonal "You"

Sometimes 'we' (私たち)does not mean 'you and me'. Sometimes it means "I". It is called the Royal We (Not the Royal Wii) because the Queen of England is said to use it rather than say I.
"We are not amused,"
is a famous saying from Queen Victoria. It means "I am not happy." Most of the time we (you and I) don't use it.

On the other hand, we often use the collective 'you'. This is often called the impersonal 'you' because it doesn't mean you - 君、or あなた - but everyone. All of these 'you's mean everyone.
  • Example 1: Where can you buy good sushi in Kanazawa?
  • Example 2: You must be over 20 years old to vote.
  • Example 3: When you go abroad, you shouldn't forget your passport.
So if someone asks you "Where can you get the bus to Kanazawa station?" They are not asking where you catch the bus. They are asking where does everyone get the bus to Kanazawa station.

Easy Exercise for improving your listening Power!
  • On the player to the left, if you want to, you can listen to "July 4: Birthday!" on the player to the right and answer the questions by clicking on comment.
Next week: the questions in writing.

Enjoy your summer! Speak English, Chinese, or Japanese as much as you can!

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Mirai Sozo is the School of Future Learning at Hokuriku University. The primary focus is on language (English and Chinese) and management (hospital administration, sports, and business).
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