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Learn Japanese From Anime?

Yup, learning Japanese from Anime really is possible. And if you stick around my website long enough you'll soon find out how. - Ken Cannon

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Ken Cannon says San, Chan, Sama, Sensei, Kun
Ken-san, sensei or sama?
So sorry for the delay guys but here's a new video on anime suffixes or "honorifics."

If you enjoyed that anime suffixes video subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive weekly Japanese videos!

Anime Suffixes Video Transcript
Hey everybody, as usual I’m Ken Cannon, and today I’m gonna be teaching you guys the most common Japanese anime suffixes.
This is of course to offset a little bit of what I taught you guys last week. The Top Ten Anime Cuss words! Aka. How to be a dick head in Japanese!
Hopefully this video will add some politeness to your Japanese vocabulary, so you can thoroughly de- dickhead yourself.
Now most of you, if you’ve been watching anime for 5 minutes, are familiar with what these are. In technical jargon, there called honorifics.
And for you guys I’m gonna to try to include a bit more of detail on how the word is actually used, and hopefully some stuff you didn’t know.
But for the rest of you anime noobs, Japanese suffixes or honorifics are little titles stuck to the back of a name. In other words, I would be known as Ken Cannon Sensei. Although that makes me sound old and gross, so please don’t call me that. J
Alright! Getting started!
With the most common Japanese suffix
"San" is often equated to the English Mr. or Mrs. But here no one really uses those terms unless you’re old and balding so I find that translation rather inaccurate. However the meaning is correct, in that it’s mainly used for adults, and as a sign of respect for people you don’t know very well.
(Pronunciation guide)
In Japanese "san" is the defacto, so if you don’t know what to call someone, "san" is usually the way to go.
(man dressed in womens clothing)
Konichiwa desu! Sakura to moshimasu!
Konichiwa… sakura…san
With "san," make sure you never refer to yourself with it, because it’s a symbol of respect. It would kinda sound like you're worshiping yourself.
(Naruto clips)
Now the rule of thumb on when you become a "–san" (i.e. graduate from some of the other suffixs I’m going to teach you). For girls it happens when you graduate middles school or junior high, and boys, after graduating high school.
And yes the implication here is maturity.
Okay! Moving on to the next commonly used honorific
This suffix is actually more common than "-san" in anime, and is used as an expression of endearment, so as you might guess, it’s the default for young children and girls.
(Pronunciation guide)
You can also use this term if you a sexist old bastard and want to pick up on younger women.
Ne, ne ojou-chan, ima kara doko ka, ikanai?
(man dressed in women’s clothing)
This phrase is also commonly used when referring to pets or animals..
Gomen ne neko-chan… oven wa atsukatta?
So if you’re a guy older than 12 and someone calls you this, it might be a good time to use your newly learned “Temee.”
(Naruto clips)
Ok, the next commonly used suffix is,
This suffix in it’s root, means teacher.
(pronunciation guide)
However something that sets this suffix apart, is that while "–san" and "–chan" must be attached to the back of a name, you can use "sensei" by itself.
As a pronoun of sorts
Now "sensei" doesn’t mean just “teacher” , it can also used when referring to doctors, poets and evem manga artists or manga- ka. Basically you can use "sensei" to pretty much refer to anybody with a certain level of mastery in a subject.
Sensei! Anata no toenail clipping skills wa saiko desu!
And here’s some examples from Naruto.
(naruto clips)
Okay on to suffix number 4
This honrific is used a lot more in anime than in actual real life. And it’s used to show extreme respect for someone.
(Pronunciation guide)
Now as I said this phrase is a lot more popular in anime than in real life, most likely because you can sometimes equate this suffix to (king). And in Anime there are a lot more kings and queens than in real life… besides me of course.
“temeera ore nit suite koi”
(man in womens clothing)
“hai! Ken Cannon sama!”
Now in Real life this phrase is most often heard when referring to customers of a business, as in okyaku-sama.
Other uses like I mentioned above would be when referring to actual kings or presidents, Obama-sama?
(Naruto clips)
Alright and the last honorific for today’s lesson is!
This is used mainly for younger males
(pronunciation guide)
Now like I said boys generally graduate this term until college, but it’s also pretty common for a boss to call an employee "-kun" no matter his age. Basically you use it for male younger or lower than you in status.
George Bush – kun?
"-Kun" can also be used by girls on a guy they’ve known for a while or are particularly fond of.
“Ken Cannon kun ttara!”
And here’s some examples from naruto.
(Naruto clips)
Now to do a little recap…
San, the defacto
Chan, for little ones
Sensei, for teachers
Sama, for kings
And Kun, for boys
Alright! As a side note really just want to thank everybody for all your comments, subscriptions and wonderful encouragement you guys have given me this past month. And I know I went on a bit of a hiatus for about 3 weeks.
My brother actually came to visit me from out of state so I really wanted to maximize the amount of time I had with him. So sorry. But I’m back in my groove again so please subscribe if you liked the honorifics video and I’ll see you guys next week!

Ken Cannon


  1. Thanks a lot for the update. Great as always

    1. can u use bleach in some of ur videos
      it helps me out a lot with japanese

  2. omg that was hilarious! you so full of energy! (were you stoned when you made this video? just kidding :P )
    Anyways, love the site!

    1. Of course! that's my secret video making ingredient!... totally not, I'm just naturally constantly high unfortunately ... but yeah thanks! heheh

  3. Damit Ken, I can concentrate trough out all the video since you are just simple to hilarious :D Loved this video :)

  4. How long did it take you to learn Japanese?

    1. Bout a year originally... but of course I still learn something new everyday just like everything else.

  5. ken-sensei your the best thanks man

  6. as you've seen ive commented on most of your posts ,so here's another one :D
    i dont know if im right or wrong but ive came to think that -san also is used at someone that is at the same level or lower than you ( im refering to age/maturity) and ,-chan to someone that you've known for a while (have seen it mostly used when refering to a girl and even more to youngins) and finally my opinion for -kun i believe it is used to someone that you like as a friend or you think of him as a friend,someone that you know well.but thats just what i believe and if you are sure what i said is wrong please inform me so i could know about it as well..would really appreciate it .please contact me here ,at my email : mstartev@abv.bg or at my youtube account MangeyoukouMaster .thanks alot again

    1. I'm sure everybody has their own take slightly different on them, but -san can also be used for people at a higher level than you, it is a term of respect after all.

  7. you've helped me so much, arigato >:) i've been watching anime so much that i know some japanese words :D

  8. I am a new in this site but I see that you know much more than me. Your videos are very effective to be watch by anyone who wants to learn Japanese and the more good thing is you indicate your story every videos for that I'm really glad I've open this site you are even worthy to be called sensei........ so Ken~sensei domo arigato nimo kakawaruzu........ :)

  9. hi^_^i started also by watching anime(La Corda D'Oro ~primo passo~)and most of the time i heard in this anime chan,sama,sensei and kun i got a little confused but thanks to this video.
    cant wait for the next video of you:)
    nice day.....

  10. You really enjoy this... and that's the secret of your success
    Thank you to share it...

  11. Arigatou gozaimasu Ken-sensei ! you're videos are so great and also funny :D it really help me a lot :) Looking forward for your many sugoi videos :)

  12. i read somewhere "-kisama" used to be used in the military, when talking to a superior officer. is that true?

    1. I'm not sure about the military, but kisama the word was used long ago as a honorific for people.

    2. "kisama" simply means "you".
      This word literally means "honorable person" and had been used for honorable person.
      In 20th Century, this word was used in Japanese army when a subordinate call his boss or also boss call his subordinates (because all of Japanese boys were considered as Emperor's children, so they were respected.) But this situation, being called as only "kisama," was strange because they were to be called in YOBISUTE, being called without any suffixes. This is very rude (or too friendly) in Japan. It also may be true that the environment of military was terrible, you know, so the word of kisama become a bad memory of dark military.
      Then, being called as Kisama gradually have been considered as a rude way of calling someone. So, when you see character in the military anime using the word of kisama, he abuses, maybe to his enemy.
      Additionally, Japanese people sometimes uses honorific expressions ironically. "Omae" and "anta" are the words of same kind.

      Could you understand? I'm sorry about my poor English
      from Japan, 19yo man

  13. god ur so fluent..

  14. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the interesting video! I noticed you used Inuyasha for your references. Haven't seen that anime in forever! Even though I've been watching anime for years so the honorifics are nothing new to me but I don't think your explanation was completely true.

    From what I can tell from anime and also when reading manga I've seen -san used for upperclassmen in school life animes. It's also used when your not close to the person and also when they are older. You said it was like the English form of Mr. & Mrs. and while that may be true I believe -san is just used out of respect for someone older.

    Now, with -kun & -chan I've seen anime use that for when characters are friends but not close friends as close friends wouldn't use honorifics.

    I've also seen where anime would use -kun on a girl and -chan on a guy. (Wish I could remember an anime I saw that instance...) Would you know why they do that?

    I think with -sama, I've seen animes use that when a character is really popular and I guess you can call it a group (or fan club) of the opposite gender calls the character's name with -sama. As they idol him or her.

    Since I've mentioned every honorific so far. I guess I'll mention that your explanation of sensei was really good.

    Sumimasen for the long comment. T_T

    1. Instead of typing what I think from watching anime, I just link some internet resources

      Honorifics also can be used as cute ending to names. For example -tan.
      Thanks anime (^O^)P

  15. Hey Ken,
    I just found your site, and it's pretty awesome. Now, im a big fan of Naruto, and i hear Sempai a lot as well. Eg. Captain Yamato calls Kakashi sempai. I was wondering what sempai means.
    Can you help?

    1. I think it just refers to someone who is your friend.... but I could be wrong.

    2. It means someone who is your 'superior', and you respect. For instance, the honorific -sama is used for people you respect, but sempai can be used like sensei, meaning it can act as a pronoun. In anime, you would refer to a master/sensei you have a really good connection with your sempai.

      Hope this helps!

  16. i love your videos!!! but im 13 so i cant sign up to any lessons :( Anyways thanks for these videos they are so helpful and funny at the same time!

  17. ooooooooohhhhhhh, I get it. ^_^
    What about "Sempai" though?

    1. you'd use this if you were talking to someone more senior than you, for example if you were talking to someone in the grade above you at school, you would refer to them as senpai

  18. Do you refer to women of college age as -kun? or is -san? as I don't believe you covered that?

    1. you would use san, kun is used for boys until around the time they graduate high school

  19. You might of seen this comment on YouTube by me but to be on the safe side.. Is chan used for Young woman? like 18,19,20?a young adult?

  20. Arigatou Ken-san/senpai (since you don't want to be called sensei :P )

    If you don't have inspiration for videos, could you teach us more
    honorifics? I've seen also other ones like shisho or something. Wat do family members call each other? Like Hinata Hyuga from Naruto, she calls her cousin Neji-sama... Now I don't think he's a king :P

    Greets from Belgium :)

  21. Wow your amazing bro ^-^ Western Otaku with hopes to go to Japan and your helping everyday :D Thanks

  22. Hi all,
    Just thought I'd chime in on the せんぱい(senpai) question. It's really a difficult thing to translate. The Japanese culture still has elements that are left over from the Feudal period in which there was really no difference between business and military, so rank was (and is) an important part of everyday life in Japan. せんぱい(Senpai) means "Senior", it is typically used to address someone who is part of your company or organization but who out ranks you (which I think addresses the excellent Naruto example that Cameron Posted). The opposite is こうはい(kouhai) which means "Junior", but you would never use this as an honorific. In a professional setting, people use さん(san) even when speaking to people of lower rank.

  23. I was just like- 0.0 "Is that Fireflies in the backround?!". Great music choice sir ^.^

  24. I first read up about this on wiki and still couldn't understand it but after watching this i finally get it :P cheers man!

  25. Just saved my a$$ Ken-sama

  26. Whoa thats why i got so confused when i watched "Honey and Clover" and [spoiler] when Yamada and Takemoto were talking to the doctor about Hagu-chan's accident,they were calling the doctor "sensei" and i was like "huh?Is she maybe a teacher working part time in hospital or something?".So "sensei" is not only for teachers then! Arigatou Ken-sensei ^_^

  27. What are some good animes to watch for beginners, in japanese obviously, and where to find them on the internet

  28. Very Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Anime

  29. Hey, Ken!
    I'm a Japanese boy, 19 years old.
    I think that all of non-native speakers cannot understand what a foreign word means perfectly, but you did a good job! You feels Japanese and understands Japanese suffixes very well, I think. Your explanation is also interesting!
    Of course, "kun" or "chan" etc. are used in much more ways than ones you referred, but I think you understand about that, and even I couldn't explain about all way of using such words.
    so, do your best! your work is big help of someone in the world. so be pride of that. 頑張って!応援しています。
    now i try to listen to your native English through your video. 笑

    please forgive me about my poor English. 拙い英語で申し訳ないです。
    Good luck! (* ^ ^)/


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