View Full Version : name suffixes/titles ??

12-07-2007, 11:45 PM
I know the basics like -sempai, -san, and -chan but what does
-kun, -dono, -sama and -nee mean?

Kawairashii hikari
12-07-2007, 11:52 PM

Go to this page I always have it in my favortes since i write stories and use these suffixes/titles. I'm not sure that they have - nee though.

12-08-2007, 04:00 PM
"-kun" is generally used for males in the same social standing as you, pretty much the same way as "-chan" is for girls (although "-chan" can be used from girlfriend to boyfriend).

"-sama" is something like "-sempai", although "-sempai" generally indicates experience or knowledge (e.g. people in a higher grade than you in school) while "-sama" is just general high respect.

"-dono" is basically just a higher level of "-sama". "-dono" is generally (as I understand) reserved basically for the emperor of Japan or people of that level.

"-nee" is short for "-oneesan", which means "sister". Similarly, sometimes you'll hear "-niisan" (brother), "-baa" (grandmother, e.g. "Chiyo-baa" from Naruto Shippuuden), "-jiisan" (grandfather)

12-10-2007, 09:25 PM
There's a lot of nuances in these titles, and it's worth putting out a detailed explanation of them. Ertai gave a pretty good summation of the way you'll see them most used, but I'll go ahead and try to explain them as I've come to understand them; anybody who knows differently is free to correct me.

さん(様)-san is the most basic and common honorific. It is used for anybody you don't know well (and is often extended as a suffix for occupations, rather than just names), and, in general, anybody you don't speak casually with.

さま(様)-sama (which is, I believe, the same character as "san," though san is never actually written in kanji) is, as Ertai mentioned, used for people you have a great deal of respect for. It's the common extremely polite, respectful honorific.

ちゃん -chan has three major uses--the first use is for girls (and young women) that you're familiar with--school or office friends, for example. The second way you'll see it used is with boys--but, in my experience, only with younger boys, and only used by women. In that use, it's restricted to extreme familiarity--you'll see it used this way most often by mothers speaking to their sons, though women who are trying to seem friendly to young boys (usually under ten, by my estimation) might use it the same way. Insofar as this is true, I suppose it can also be used to come off as deliberately patronizing, as well. It is also used by some very young children on, essentially, everybody; in my experience, I've seen very young girls use it this way more often than very young boys, and can't actually think of any examples of the latter offhand; it may actually exclusively be used that way in feminine speech.

くん(君) -kun can be used in two common ways. The first is essentially the same as the first use of chan, used for boys (and young men) that you're on a casual basis with. The second use is when addressing ones inferiors, regardless of gender--a boss might refer to his employees this way, and you'll see teachers speaking to students using "kun" as well. I believe it's even extended to military, but I can't actually recall offhand if that's true.

せんぱい(先輩)-senpai is probably one of the easiest to understand; it's used with anybody in the same group as you (usually in the workplace or in school) who has more experience than you--actually, anybody who's been in that group longer than you have. Literally, it means "preceding comrade"--a peer who has proceeded you in the group in which you are peers.

どの(殿)-dono is largely archaic; it was once used as a title even more respectful than -sama, but over the years (much like 手前 and 貴様), it lost that sort of standing. In modern usage, you might see it used disparagingly of someone of high standing (somebody you'd usually use "sama" with); it's also used as a means of address in letters, especially to inferiors--politely in this situation. Its modern usage is a bit peculiar, so I'd stay away from using it in conversation if you ever have the opportunity.

ちゃま is a suffix you may well never see or hear; I've only heard it used in one situation, myself, watching Ouran Koukou Hosutobu. It's an archaic honorific almost never used anymore, and bears the same relationship to "sama" as "chan" bears to "san"--a more familiar version of sama, if you will. In Ouran, it was used by the young sister of one of the (obscenely rich, if you haven't seen Ouran) high school students when addressing her brother--お兄ちゃま. I fortunately had somebody significantly more experienced with Japanese than I on hand to explain it when I was watching that.

You may already know, but it should be noted that dropping the honorifics entirely indicates extreme closeness (or extreme rudeness).

I have a question for anybody more familiar with the honorifics than I am, though: if a student is dating his senpai, and therefore quite close, but not yet in a close enough relationship to omit an honorific, would he use ちゃん with her? (Or くん with him, in the case of a girl dating an older guy.) It's sort of an odd question, I suppose, but my understanding of how familiarity works into addressing one's senpai is more or less nil.

12-14-2007, 06:33 AM
To answer your question, it would depend on the situation and the knowledge of their relationship. In Japan, if you say you are dating someone, it's like you're announcing your wedding (little old fashioned, I know. But still pretty common.

In public, they would probably stick to the typical titles out of respect. But in private, the nicknames would probably come out. If they relationship is closer and people know about it, then titles would be fine in some cases. Think of it like if your significant other called you "hunny bunny" in front of other people. Even when I talk to my hubby's boss, I still call my hubby Glen-san instead of Glen-kun out of respect for my hubby's standing and what people would think of him.