[Japanese Language] Honorific titles- Kun/Chan/ San(くん/ちゃん/さん)

When we call someone, we attach an honorific title to his/her name.
Japanese speakers use it in various ways with considering gender and age.

One’s name + Kun
One’s name + Chan
One’s name + San
One’s name (+ no title)
They give us different impressions.

– for men (same age or younger)
– friendly
– attached to first name and family name

– for women (same age or younger)
– friendly
– attached to first name

– for everyone
– formal
– attached to first name and family name
– a little courtesy and politeness
– most commonly used (*Japanese respects good manners)

no honorific titles(name only)
– for everyone (same age or younger)
– not so polite
– sometimes very close friendship

I’ll take CLANNAD for example.

“Kun” is sometimes used for women by middle aged man.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

“Chan” is sometimes used for all little child(both boy and girl)for endearment.

Father is called as otousan (お父さん).
This word is composed by three parts, o-tou-san.
“tou” means father.
“o” is a polite prefix to attach every words.
Ex) Rice is kome(米). Its polite form is okome(お米).
And “san” is an honorific title as we explained above.
We can call him otou-chan or tou-chan if he is not too strict.
Mother is okaasan. Call her okaa-chan as you like.

[Brothers and Sisters]
From older sibling to younger one
– no honorific titles(name only)
– sometimes with Kun/Chan as they like.

From younger sibling to older brother
-oniichan (お兄ちゃん)
-not call his name

From younger sibling to older sister
-oneechan (お姉ちゃん)
-not call her name

“Sensei” (先生)
Teacher is called his/her name with Sensei for both men and women. Not with “San”.
Ex) Yamada Sensei. (Family name + Sensei)

Senpai (先輩)
Un upper-class student is “Senpai” for both boys and girls, sometimes in business also.
Ex) Yamada Senpai. (Family name or first name + Senpai)

“Kouhai” (後輩)
A lower-class student is “Kouhai”.
But we don’t call younger one with Kouhai.
Ex) “Yamada Kouhai” is not correct.

I think that people call each other with his/her first name in many parts of the world.
When you came to Japan, you should call someone with “San”
But don’t pay much attention to it.
You are welcome !

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