How is 私 read as "わたし" sometimes and as "わたくし" other times?

Asked 8 years ago

I understand that わたくし is a more polite, humble version of わたし, but I don't know when it's read as わたくし and when it's read as わたし. With other characters like 人 it takes context to figure out how it's pronounced, like what character it's used in conjunction with, if it's used with another character at all. But with 私, there's none of that context to help me figure it out. So how do I tell if it's "わたくし" or "わたし"?

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1 Answer


The majority of the time it will be わたし, usually unless otherwise noted (using ruby, or furigana above it). It may often be a stand alone word, but that does not mean that there isn't any context at all. If you look at the rest of the sentence, and the other words are extremely formal or honorific, then go with わたくし. Otherwise, I'd say stick with わたし. Hope that helps!

Answered 8 years ago

Thank you! That clears things up a bit!

Commented 8 years ago