Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Absolute Beginner Questions Answered by Hiroko, where I’ll answer some of *your* most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is… Why should I add SAN after a name?
“San” is an honorific title to show politeness. It’s similar to Mr. or Ms. in English.
When you don’t know someone very well, you should address him or her with politeness, right?
‘San’ is the most commonly used colloquial expression among adults. When you first meet a person, you should address the person with their name plus ‘san’ to show your politeness. Also, it’s used with people who are not so close to you. You can use ‘san’ with your seniors and juniors in a formal situation or business setting.
You might have heard “sama,” “kun” and “chan” added after people’s names, for example, Tanaka-sama, Tarou-kun and Hanako-chan.
Using “sama” is the most polite. And it’s often used to customers.
"Kun" is usually used with males who are the same age as you or younger than you. However, it can also be used to females when a male boss is talking to his female subordinate in a business situation. But it’s not so common.
When you say girls’ names in casual conversations, it's more common to add "chan" instead of ''kun".
For exampleFinally, here is one more example of how to use ‘san.’ If you have a co-worker called Mr. Ishi, who is not your superior or is not a person in a managerial position, you should call him ‘Ishii-san’. If he is in a managerial position, you might want to address him with the position such as ‘Ishii kachou’, which means “section manager Mr. Ishi” and so on.
I hope this makes sense to you and you’re able to use "san”, “kun”, ”chan” and ”sama” correctly from now on!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!