100 Grammar Points


13. Using ~さん

The equivalent to Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. is ~さん


  • Right after the name.
  • It is used even with friends.
  • (Even when in English we wouldn’t use “Mr.”)


  • クレイさん (kurei san) – Mr. Clay
  • 山田さん (yamada san) – Mr. (or Mrs…) Yamada

Other name titles (used the same way)

  • ~さま (sama) – very polite – reserved for those with higher social standing than the speaker. Also used for customers of stores
  • ~ちゃん (chan) – used for girls and very young boys (kiti-chan = Hello Kitty)
  • ~くん (kun) – used for young boys
  • ~先生 (sensei) – used for teachers [クレイ先生 kurei sensei], doctors, and professionals

For now just use san. As you know from watching all the 1980s Karate Kid movies, it is the most common.

For more on this see our article on keishou, “敬称 Name Titles”.

100 Grammar Points


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