The meaning of kare (彼、かれ) and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word kare, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, related expressions and more!

What does kare mean?

Kare (彼、かれ) means he in Japanese. In casual language, it can also take on the meaning of boyfriend.

Let’s look at some examples below.

To make it easier for you, I have written each sentence in full Japanese kanji in the first line, followed by roman letters (romaji), and hiragana, with the English meaning coming last.

Example sentences using kare

Kare means he or boyfriend (casual) in Japanese.

Kare wa eigo ga tokui desu.
He is good at English.

Kare wa youshoku yori washoku ga suki desu.
He likes Japanese food more than western food.

Kare wa shourai, otousan ni naritai to itteimasu.
He says she wants to become a father in the future.

Kare + no = His

When you add in the possessive no (の) particle, as in kare no (彼の), the meaning is his.

Kare no okaasan wa mada wakaku miemasu.
His mother still looks young

Kare no yume wa isha ni naru koto desu.
His dream is to become a doctor.

Kare no ie wa hirokute totemo suteki desu.
His house is big and very nice.

Kare can also mean boyfriend in casual Japanese

Kare means he or boyfriend (casual) in Japanese.

Kare can also mean boyfriend in casual Japanese.

Watashi no kare wa se ga takai yo.
My boyfriend is tall.

However, in standard Japanese (which you should aim to imitate) the normal word for boyfriend is kareshi (彼氏、かれし). Here are a couple of examples:

Watashi no kareshi wa yoku ryouri wo tsukutte kureru.
My boyfriend often cooks for me.

My boyfriend is really cool!

When to use kare

Although we have seen that kare means he in Japanese, it’s not used anywhere near as often as its English equivalent.

This is because Japanese speakers often omit pronouns when they are understood by the context. For example, the “he” is obvious in the example below and hence omitted:

Ano hito wa nanijin desu ka?
What nationality is he (lit: that person)?

Furansujin desu.
He is French.

Kare and politeness

It’s also better to use a person’s name or title when you can. This sounds more natural and it’s also more polite.

I should add that this goes for double when referring to someone of a higher status than yourself (e.g., your boss).

Let’s imagine that your boss is called Sato San, who you are currently talking about to a colleague. In this case, the second sentence is better than the first, where kare might sound slightly rude.

  1. この業界では彼のレポートが有名です。
    Kono gyoukai de wa kare no repooto ga yuumei desu.
    His reports are well-known in this industry.
  2. この業界では佐藤さんのレポートが有名です。
    Kono gyoukai de wa Sato San no repooto ga yuumei desu.
    Sato San’s reports are well-known in this industry.

What’s the female equivalent of kare?

Kanojo (彼女、かのじょ) means both she and girlfriend in Japanese.