Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 4

Posted on 14. Apr, 2015 by in Grammar

So far, I have covered a couple of Japanese honorific suffixes since last month. Here are some of the past suffixes if you would like to review.

Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 1 (~さん)

Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 2 (~ちゃん)

Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 3 (~くん)

Last honorific suffix that I would like to cover is ~sama(さま). In this article today, let me go over the details as to how you can use the suffix correctly.


Photo from cwyen729 on flickr.com


~sama(さま) – 様 (さま)

~sama(さま) is a respectful way of calling someone. You can use this to male or female. You can use this whenever you would like to show your respect; however, here are the typical examples of how you can use ~sama.


1) When speaking to someone who is in higher social status than yourself.

Example: Yamamoto sama (山本様、やまもとさま)

2) When speaking to customers.  For example: Okyaku-sama(お客様、おきゃくさま) Okyaku means customer. Instead of calling your customer by name, you can generally call the person by saying “Okyaku-sama(お客様、おきゃくさま)”

3) When referring to God of any religion. People often refer “God” by “Kami-sama(神様、かみさま).

4) When addressing  your post cards or letters to someone. You will indicate ~sama(さま) in front of the post card or envelop. For example, Mr. Tanaka will be written as “Tanaka sama (田中様、たなかさま)” in Japanese.

5) #4 is also true when you are writing your emails to someone you don’t know too well or to someone who is in higher social status, or to your customers.

6) ~sama(さま) is also used to say:

Gochisou sama (ご馳走様、ごちそうさま) - This expression is used after each meal, by thanking whoever cooked your meal for you. In English, this would mean, “Thank you for the delicious meal.”

Omachi do sama(お待ち同様、おまちどうさま) – “Thank you for waiting.”

Gokuro sama(ご苦労様、ごくろうさま) – “Thank you for your hard work.”

Otsukare sama(お疲れ様、おつかれさま) – “Thank you for your hard work.”

The last two means the same thing; however,  Otsukare sama(お疲れ様、おつかれさま) is used more casually among friends and family.


Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 3

Posted on 28. Mar, 2015 by in Culture, Grammar

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!



photo from bryan… on flickr.co



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!

Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 2

Posted on 25. Mar, 2015 by in Culture, Grammar

In my last post, I have covered one of the Japanese honorific suffixes, called ~さん(san). You can read it here if you would like to review. In today’s article, let me talk about ~ちゃん(chan), which is also a popular honorific suffix but the use of it will be totally different than さん(san). Read on!


photo from Dakiny on flikr.com




~ちゃん(chan) is a common honorific suffix to use towards a younger and smaller girls. You might be calling your friend’s daughter who is 3 years old, as Sachiko-chan(さちこ ちゃん). Typically, if you are referring to your friend’s daughter, you will not call her by her first name. It sounds more polite and friendly by calling her name + chan(ちゃん).


If a child is a boy, you could still use ~ちゃん(chan) if he is a baby or toddler. ~ちゃん(chan) towards boys is most commonly used for boys under 3. You will be using ~kun(くん) instead for older boys, which I will cover in my next article.  However, the exception might be that among family or relatives, ~ちゃん(chan) might be still used for older boys. For example, mom calling her son, Satoshi chan, or grand mother or auntie calling grandson or nephew, Hiro chan.


~ちゃん(chan) can be also used for older sister and older brother. Older sister is One-chan (おねえちゃん、お姉ちゃん), and older brother is Oni-chan(おにいちゃん、お兄ちゃん) in Japanese.  Often times, younger siblings will call their older siblings this way. The way we call older siblings is also the same among cousins and close friends.  You could also call your friend’s daughter by “One-chan (おねえちゃん、お姉ちゃん)” if she is older than your own children.


Smaller children would also use ~ちゃん(chan) to refer their special dolls, stuffed animals, or pets. For example, a younger girl might be calling her stuffed animal teddy bear as “kuma-chan(くまちゃん)”.


~ちゃん(chan) is also common to be included as part of a nickname of the person. For example, among friends, you might call one of your friends whose name is Yasuko(やすこ) as Yacchan(やっちゃん). It is common to call your friend by first letter (or a first few letters) + chan(ちゃん).  Take a look at the examples below.

If the person’s name is:                Commonly called among close friends,

Sachiko  (さちこ)                                          Sacchan(さっちゃん)

Keiko (けいこ)                                               Kei chan(けいちゃん)

Satomi (さとみ)                                           Sato chan(さとちゃん)

Kazuko (かずこ)                                         Kazu chan(かずちゃん)


Next article will be on ~くん(kun). If any of this is confusing to you, please let me know.