Name + Form of Address


Here’s the Japanese way of ” form of address”, easier than the English way!

< san >

Pronunciation: same as sun/son. This is the most usable form in all. Capable to be used in any relationship and regardless of sex. Note this form adds a sense of politeness on his/her- first/last name. You can use this very first when you call another person’s name.

  • Teacher to student, student to student
  • Nurse and doctor to patient
  • Worker to colleague
  • Parent to child (politely)
  • ….

< chan >

This form is mush intimate impression, sounds lovely. As a nickname, sometimes be used with the first pronunciation of the name (ex. michiko=> micchan, masako=> maachan). Boys do this way, same as girls 🙂

  • Parent to child-kid-baby
  • Student to student( boys: only childhood)
  • A mother to her daughter’s friend
  • Boy to his girlfriend
  • Girl to her boyfriend

< sama >

This is the most polite form. When people call the king ( althouh there’s no king in Japan), king= oh in Japanese, so they say “Oh-sama”. The god=kami is “kami-sama”.

  • Staff to customer
  • Officer to client (any business)
  • Servant to master( In most cases master=goshujin, “goshujin-sama”)
  • Business mails start from “Suzuki sama” instead of Dear/to Mr. Suzuki

< sensei>

In case he/ she works under licenses like lawyer and doctor, the person is called his/ her name ( mostly family name) + sensei. Sensei has the meanings of teacher, master, mentor. When you have a friend who knows things very well, you can call him “Smith-sensei”:)

  • Student to teacher/ master
  • Patient to doctor
  • Client to lawyer

< + job title>

On business occasions, if you know his/ her job title, you will call them ” Sato- shachou””Sasaki- buchou”. These are like you call them in English,” President/CEO Sato” “Director Sasaki”. Also used to other company’s job titles. If you have a rich friend, you can call him ” Smith-shachou (=President/CEO Smith)” with a joke.

  • Staff to boss
  • Officer to client who has job title
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