The treatment pronouns in Japanese

know more about Japanese treatment pronouns!

There are numerous treatment pronouns in Japanese. Most of them serve to specify the level of relationship between two or more people.

The treatment pronouns in Japanese

So we use a Japanese treatment pronoun for friends another for relatives and so on. To use a treatment pronoun, simply use one of the suffixes below after the person's name.


Diminutive used affectionately when referring to close friends, girls or younger people.


Suffix used for people close to you that you respect a lot, usually men, but sometimes it can be used for women.


It can be translated as "sir" or "lady". Usually used to refer to someone who is older or doesn't know themselves very well.


It can be translated as teacher, instructor, master… Used to refer to superior people in informal conversation. In informal conversation it can be translated as Doctor.

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A very polite way of referring to other people. Usually used to refer to royalty, emperors. In stores, salespeople use “Sama” to refer to customers. This Japanese address pronoun can also be used in restaurants.


Term used for people considered more experienced. The use of senpai is very common among younger students with seniors.


A co-worker or student of the same level, or who entered school at the same time.


Term used to refer to freshmen or beginners in the same activity.


This one is cool. He is more formal than San and less formal than Sama. It's like you're an important and influential person, but you're not royalty.


HAN is a pronoun with a similar treatment to SAN, but with time it fell into disuse. Nowadays it is rare to use HAN and, instead of it, SAN is now used.

To refer to other people in Japan, be careful when using the treatment forms. There is a shape for every situation and shapes can also change according to the people you are talking to. Being too formal with friends isn't very good, just as being too informal with people you don't know is unpleasant. As San is the most common form of address, use it whenever you are in doubt about which form of address to use.

Referring to someone without using forms of address is not very advisable.