Languages › Japanese How to Use "San," "Kun" and "Chan" Correctly When Speaking Japanese Why You Don't Want to Mix Up These Three Words in Japanese Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo. / Claire Cohen Japanese Japanese Grammar History & Culture Essential Japanese Vocabulary By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated February 28, 2020 "San," "kun," and "chan" are added to the ends of names and occupation titles to convey varying degrees of intimacy and respect in the Japanese language. They are used very often and it is considered impolite if you use the terms incorrectly. For instance, you should not use "kun" when addressing a superior or "chan" when talking to someone older than you. In the tables below, you'll see how and when it is appropriate to use "san," "kun," and "chan." San In Japanese, "~ san （～さん）" is a title of respect added to a name. It can be used with both male and female names, and with either surnames or given names. It can also be attached to the name of occupations and titles. For example: surname Yamada-san 山田さん Mr. Yamada given name Yoko-san 陽子さん Miss. Yoko occupation honya-san 本屋さん bookseller sakanaya-san 魚屋さん fishmonger title shichou-san 市長さん mayor oisha-san お医者さん doctor bengoshi-san 弁護士さん lawyer Kun Less polite than "~ san", "~ kun （～君）" is used to address men who are younger or the same age as the speaker. A male might address female inferiors by "~ kun," usually in schools or companies. It can be attached to both surnames and given names. Additionally, "~kun" isn't used between women or when addressing one's superiors. Chan A very familiar term, "~ chan （～ちゃん）" is often attached to children's names when calling them by their given names. It can also be attached to kinship terms in a childish language. For instance: Mika-chan 美香ちゃん Mika ojii-chan おじいちゃん grandpa obaa-chan おばあちゃん grandma oji-chan おじちゃん uncle Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Abe, Namiko. "How to Use "San," "Kun" and "Chan" Correctly When Speaking Japanese." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/how-to-use-san-kun-chan-4058115. Abe, Namiko. (2020, August 27). How to Use "San," "Kun" and "Chan" Correctly When Speaking Japanese. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-san-kun-chan-4058115 Abe, Namiko. "How to Use "San," "Kun" and "Chan" Correctly When Speaking Japanese." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-san-kun-chan-4058115 (accessed September 23, 2021). copy citation Expressing Uncertainty in Japanese Language Guide to the Japanese Language in the Animated "Spirited Away" Vegetables in Japanese Vocabulary Celebrating Father's Day in Japanese Culture How to Write Love in Japanese Kanji 'Good Morning' and Other Common Japanese Greetings Formal Introductions in Japanese Health Problem Expressions in Japanese Japanese Greetings and Parting Phrases First Meetings and Introductions in Japanese What Does Iiyo Mean in Japanese? Japanese for Beginners Sentence Ending Particles in Japanese All About Radicals in the Japanese Language Useful Japanese Expressions What Does the Japanese Word Kagaku Mean?