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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… What's the difference between MINA-SAN and MINNA?
When you want to say “everyone” or “all of you” in Japanese, can you use “mina-san” and “minna” interchangeably?
The Japanese language has three spoken expressions when you want to say "everyone" or "all of you". They are min-na, mina-san and mina-sama.
“Min-na” is most frequently used in informal speech. When you’re talking to your family or friends, you can use "min-na". It sounds more friendly than the others.
"Mina-san" is used as often as min-na but it is more polite than "min-na". When you are talking to people who you don't know very well, such as your coworkers or neighbors, you should use "mina-san" rather than "min-na. However, even when you address people you know very well, for example, classmates, you can use “mina-san” in formal situations such as class meetings and speech meetings.
"Mina-sama" is the most polite expression of the three. It is used when you talk to people you don't know, or for whom you should show respect. For example, if you work for a store, you use "mina-sama" when you talk to your customers. "Mina-sama" is especially common in formal speeches and in the written language.
I hope this makes sense to you and you’re able to use "min-na”, “mina-san” and “mina-sama” correctly from now on!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 29th, 2015 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 16th, 2019 at 07:25 AM
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Hi Christian Ravera,

Thank you for posting and for studying Japanese with us! It's great to have you here. :)

If you have any questions, doubts or comments, please let us know.

Kind regards,


Team JapanesePod101.com

Christian Ravera
October 5th, 2019 at 03:16 AM
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This is a great help. I was wondering about it! Thanks!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 11th, 2017 at 12:25 PM
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Yi Juan san,


The word,みんなさん doesn’t exist in the Japanese lagnauge.

Ishani san,


Douitashimashite. You are welcome.


Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

May 9th, 2017 at 09:50 PM
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Arigatou Hiroko-sensei!

Yi Juan
February 16th, 2017 at 08:15 PM
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Is there such a thing as みんなさん ?

I realised there's only one "n" in mina-san/mina-sama but there is an extra "n" in minna

JapanesePod101.com Verified
March 22nd, 2016 at 09:48 AM
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Thank you for helping Shaun san.

Shaun san,


The particle ‘no’ is a possessive marker.

Therefore, my pen means ‘watashi no pen.’

Actually, ‘Boku wa Nihon-jin desu’ means ‘I am a Japanese person.’

When you talk about nationalities, you have to use ‘jin’ which means ‘person.’

Then, in your case, ‘boku wa oosutoraria jin desu’ should be used.

Yuki  由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

March 20th, 2016 at 10:38 PM
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:sweat_smile: It shows I have no idea how to use these smileys...

My bad. I tried. XD

March 20th, 2016 at 10:36 PM
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Konnichiwa, Shaun-san!

To my knowledge, one use of the particle "no" (の) is to denote ownership. In the context of "Nihon no", it literally means "of Japan". When used in this phrase, "Nihon no okashi", it will mean "Japanese sweet" literally "A sweet (candied treat) of Japan).

Nihonjin (日本人), on the other hand, means "Japanese" (nationality). Jin (人) literally means man or person, and when you add it at then end of a country name (like our example, Nihon+jin), you are referring to a person of that country or nationality.

So when I am referring to an American, I will call him an Amerikajin (アメリカ人). If you're an Australian, then in Japanese, you are an Osutorariajin (オーストラリア人). I think that is more appropriate than saying Osutoraria no jin or hito. Grammatically, it can work but I'm not sure if it can be used in conversations.

Err, hope that helped? https://www.japanesepod101.com/wp-includes/images/emoji-emoticons/sweat_smile.png

March 12th, 2016 at 06:13 PM
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To describe what something is, e.g. "Yokan is Japanese" I assume I would use "Nihon no", and with that same logic I guess I could say: "Boku wa Oosutoraria no desu", to say that I am Australian...

But, I have also seen written: "Boku wa Nihon-jin desu", for someone saying that they're Japanese...

My question is: when would you use "Nihon-jin" rather than "Nihon no"??

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! :)