Japanese honorifics

   In Japanese, polite words are added to the end of someone's name (san, chan, etc) to give respect. It can be used with someone's first/last name or title. You don't usually attach a honorific to your own name because this can be considered rude.

   ● SAN (さん) is used for both boys and girls. It can be used in polite situations and casual situations. Can be attached to animals and inanimate objects (special areas, buildings, job titles, company names).

   ● KUN (くん/君) is in general used for boys. However, in some cases it is used on girls (in some companies to address lower position females). This honorific is usually used for males same age or younger. It is also used to address little boys. Girls also use this to address male friends of theirs.

   ● CHAN (ちゃん) is used for children, nicknames, animals and close friends. Often Japanese children and young girls will use this attached to their own name when they refer to themselves in the third person. Chan is the most used casual honorific. Other language learning books will tell you that this honorific is for girls, however both genders use this.

   ● SAMA (さま/様) is the formal version of SAN. It is used if you are talking to a customer, someone who you worship or idolize, or someone of very high status or royalty compared to you.

   ● SENPAI (先輩) is often used by students/workers to address senior position people. It can be used in other situations where someone has more experience than you. It can be used by itself or attached to a name.

   ● SENSEI (先生) used to address teachers, or people that that are seen as a wisdom giver or someone who has knowledge and gives advice. It can be used by itself or attached to a name.

Japanese pronouns

   In Japanese pronouns are not used nearly as often as they are in English. Pronouns are often removed from sentences where its already clear who you are speaking about. Not only are they removed, but in some sentences they just are not said. In certian cases, if you say the pronoun it changes the meaning of the sentence.


   Watashi (私)
is used by women in any situation. Used by men in formal situations.

   Watakushi (私)
is used in very formal situations. This will be heard when giving a company presentation or a press conference.

   Boku (僕)
is used by men in a polite situation. It is also commonly used by small boys, or by men who have friendly soft personalities. It is not usually used by girls because it makes her seem like a tomboy.

   Atashi (あたし)
is used in casual situations by teenage girls. It generally makes you sound very girly or childish.

   Ore (俺)
is used in casual situations by men. This is the pronoun of choice when men are talking with friends or family.


   In Japanese it is not strange to refer to people directly by their name, even when talking directly to them. If you did this in English, it would sound like the person you are refering to is someone else, however in Japanese this is normal. It is also normal in Japanese to avoid using the word 'you', as it sometimes is seen as rude or too direct.

   Anata (あなた)
is the general way to say you. It can be used sometimes when asking someone a question, but is usually avoided if you know the persons name.

   Kimi (君) is casual and is often used by men, but sometimes its used by girls. It is used by people who are higher status than others, or between friends. It is used often in pop and rock songs.

   Anta (あんた)
is a very casual way to say you. This is used when you are expresing anger at someone or talking to your children in a stern voice.

   Omae (お前)
is very informal and is often only used by men. It can be used in an insulting way towards someone and is often used when people fight. However, it can be used in non-rude situations such as where a father speaks to his children, a husband to his wife, speaking to pets, a teacher talking to his students.

Other people

   Kare (彼)
is often only used to mean he/him in polite situations. Usually you refer to the person by name if you want to speak about them. Most of the time when the word kare is used it means Boyfriend. If you don't know the persons name and you want to speak about a person you can use ano otoko (that man).

   Kanojo (彼女) is also most of the time translated as girlfriend. In polite situations it can be used to mean she/her. If you want to speak about a person you don't know you can use ano ko (that kid/girl) in casual situations.

   Ano hito (あの人) means that person and is used when you don't want to state a gender.

   Ano kata (あの方) means that person but it is used in formal/polite situations between people you do not know.


   You can use the suffix's tachi (たち/達) or ra (ら) to make a pronoun plural. In Japanese other nouns don't become plural and remain the same no matter how many things your talking about.

   Watashitachi (私たち) means we/us.

   Karera (彼ら) is used for a group of guys or mixed genders.

   Kanojotachi (彼女たち) is used for a group of girls.

   Anatatachi (あなた達) is used in casual conversation and means you(s).

   Anatagata (あなた方) is used in polite conversation and means you(s).

   Orera (俺ら) is used by men in casual conversation.