This is my third post regarding Japanese honorific suffixes. I have covered so far ~ さん(san) and ~ちゃん(chan). If you would like to review them, just click the link under each suffix. In this blog post today, I will explain about~くん(kun). In Japanese language, it is very important to understand the use of honorific suffixes. If you use them in a wrong way, you could easily offend others. Or if you don’t use it at all, you could also sound very rude and impolite. The use of ~くん(kun) is very specific in that you would want to know when to use it properly. Read on!
This honorific suffix is very similar to ~ちゃん(chan) except that it is used mainly for boys. It is very common to use ~くん(kun) for younger boys, including babies and toddlers. It is ok to use this suffix to someone who is younger than you; however you would not use this suffix to someone who is older than you. For someone older, you would want to use ~さん(san) or ~さま(sama) which I will explain in my next blog.
There are two exceptions to the rule I mentioned above. One is at workplace, and another at school setting. Young female employees are often referred to as “last name + ~くん(kun)”. For example, Tanaka-kun(たなかくん), Hashimoto-kun(はしもとくん), or Yamamoto-kun(やまもとくん) etc.. So in this case, even if the person is a female, she is referred to as her last name + ~くん(kun). ~くん(kun) = boys rule does not apply here.
Another exception to the ~くん(kun) = boys rue, is at school. Especially higher than high school level, it is also common for teachers or professors to address female students by her last name + ~くん(kun).
In my opinion, if you are not sue which honorific suffix to use, just stick with ~san(さん) at first. Once you become more familiar with the use of each honorific suffix, you would be able to know when to use each one of them.
The last honorific suffix I would like to cover is ~さま(sama). This one is also very unique in that you would need to know when to use it. Stay tuned!