Addressing people in Japanese – Japanese for beginers

Addressing people in JapaneseAddressing people in Japanese

Addressing people in Japanese is not too hard. However, like many other languages, there are various honorific suffixes for addressing or referring to people, depending on the situations. It’s not too hard, but since it has a broad array of honorific suffixes, it will take a while to memorize and get the knack of it. How do we memorize all of them? That is the question that LearnJapanesedaily has for you. And now, we will give you the answer in this article.

If we list out all the honorifics in Japanes then try to memorize them, it’s going to be hard. LearnJapanesedaily would like to introduce to you situations that you would likely to face everyday so that you can memorize it more easily. Imagine yourself in the situations, you will memorize and be confident in addressing people in Japanese real quick.

Family titles

Referring to yourself

Boku: I, used by boys, rarely for dads.

Ore : I, used by both males and females, many dads refer to themselves ore to their wives and kids.

Watashi : I, used by both males and females.

Otousan : Dad, Okaasan : Mom, used sometimes by parents.

For example : Okaasan to sobini ikanai ? Do you want to go out with mom?

Referring to others

Younger siblings : Go by their name or name+kun (little brother) or Name + Chan (little sister). E.g. Maruko/ Marakochan.

Older sister : Neesan/ Oneesan/ Oneue (not commonly used) – You can replace san with chan.

Older brother : Niisan/ Oniisan/ Oniue – You can replace san with chan.

Father : Tousan/ Otousan/chichioya jiji (old man) – You can replace san with chan.

Mother : Kaasan/ Okaasan/ Hahaoya – You can replace san with chan.

Grandfather : Jisan, Ojiisan – You can replace san with chan.

Grandmother : Baasan, Obaasan – You can replace san with chan.

Aunt : Basan, Obasan – You can replace san with chan.

Uncle : Jisan, Ojisan – You can replace san with chan.

You : Omae (used between brothers, dad to children or wife).

Referring to others in third person.

The same with referring to others.

School titles

In a group of friends

Referring to yourself : Watashi/ Boku or go by name (mostly girls), ore (I).

Referring to others : Go by name or Name + Chan/ Kun (for boys)/ Kimi (there, you: informal, close)/ Omae (you: kind of rude), Name + Senpai (refer to seniors).

Students – teachers

Students to teachers

Referring to yourself :  Watashi/ Boku (I, used by boys, very close).

Referring to others :  Sensei/ Name + Sensei/ Senseigata: Teachers. Principal: Kouchou Sensei.

Teachers to students

Referring to yourself :  Sensei (I)/Boku (I, close)/ Watashi.

Referring to others :  Name/ Name + Kun/ Name + Chan/ Kimi.

Company titles

Referring to yourself

Watashi/ Boku/ Ore (to those of the same level or subordinates).

Referring to others

Go by name (to those of the same level or subordinates).

Name + San (to those of the same level or Senpai).

Name + title (used for chief: Tanaka buchou: Leader Tanaka).

Title: Buchou (leader), Shachou (manager).

Name + Senpai (used for Senpai – entered the company first).

Omae : You (to those of the same level or subordinates, kinda rude).

Kimi  : You (to those  of the same level or subordinates, polite).

Daily life

Referring to yourself:

Watashi/ Boku/ Ore (I, rude, aggressive)/ atashi (often used by girls, close, girly).

Referring to others:

Name + San/ name + title/ Omae (you, rude), Temae (this rascal, rude, aggresive), aniki (Boss: Male, used in gangs or meant to be a joke), Aneki (Female, the same as Aniki).


Referring to other in third person

Name + san/ kun/ chan/ title (when talking about someone in your company, to someone outside your company, go by name only)/ sama (sir/ma’am, formal, polite, showing respect).

When talking about family, use haha (my mom), chichi (my dad), ani (my older brother), ane (my older sister), imouto (my little sister), ototo (my little brother).

LearnJapanesedaily hopes this article will help you to memorize ways of addressing people in Japanese. If there is any mistake or something you want to contribute, please comment below!

Check out other conversational Japanese articles in section: Japanese for beginers

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