Watashi Wa – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you watching a manga movie? You might notice that some of the characters say 'Watashi Wa' when speaking to others. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this Japanese expression.


The Japanese expression 'Watashi Wa' (私は、わたしは) translates to 'me' or 'I' in English. The proper translation is 'as for me.' So, if we unpack each element of the phrase, it translates to 'Watashi' (I) and 'Wa' (for).

Japanese people generally don't use subjects like 'me' or 'I' in conversations. So, they use Watashi Wa as an introduction when it's unclear that they are the subject of discussion. However, the English language doesn't require the speaker to use 'for' after they use the subject 'I.' Instead, the sentence's word order lets you know who the speaker is referring to in the conversation, namely themselves.

Japanese conversations can be vague when defining the subject of discussion. The use of particles such as 'wa' assists with clarifying things in the conversation. It's important to note that the 'wa' in the expression appears as は) in hiragana, and people pronounce it as 'ha.' This exception only applies to the 'wa' in the phrase.

Example Usage

“Watashi Wa, I’m telling you it’s the real deal, and you don’t have to worry. Have I ever steered you wrong?”

“Watashi Wa can’t handle the way this is turning out. It’s giving me horrible anxiety, and I need to take a minute to calm down.”

“Watashi Wa, I’m the person you’re looking for, and I’m right in front of you now. What are you going to do about it? There’s nothing you can say or do that I haven’t heard or seen before.”


Language experts are at a loss to explain when ‘Watashi Wa’ appeared in English. They also have no idea when the phrase originated or which areas of the world it spread to before it became a popular saying. It’s a common phrase in Japanese, and all generations use it.

Phrases Similar to Watashi Wa

  • Me.
  • Myself.
  • I.

Phrases Opposite to Watashi Wa

  • You.
  • Yours.
  • Them.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Watashi Wa.

Ways People May Say Watashi Wa Incorrectly

The phrase 'Watashi Wa' is a Japanese expression referring to the self. It's not commonly used outside of Japanese conversations and has no real use in English. However, you might notice the phrase when watching Japanese anime or Manga shows and movies.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Watashi Wa

You can use the expression 'Watashi Wa' when referring to yourself. It translates from Japanese to 'I' or 'me.' The Japanese language rarely uses the subjects I, you, and it. However, you'll use 'Watashi Wa' at the beginning of a sentence when speaking about yourself. The phrase doesn't have any use outside of Japanese, but it's one of the most common phrases westerners learn when introducing themselves to the Japanese language.

It's common for Japanese people to have entire conversations without ever referring to themselves. It's a respectful culture that places more emphasis on the community rather than the self. So, Japanese speakers may use 'Watashi Wa' when the context of the conversation isn't clear, and the speaker is referring to themselves.

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