TIL: Human Japanese 26

After meeting up for lunch with an old friend on Thursday, I wasn’t left with much time to study. But with my lunch waiting and ready for me today, I was able to work through chapter 26! There were lots of proper nouns in this chapter, as it was all about family relationships. At least I knew enough going into it, to know that ビッグブラザー is not a proper word to describe your big brother 😉

Family Terms

ーおとうさん 「your dad」
ーおかあさん 「your mom」
ーちち 「my dad」
ーはは 「my mom」
ーおにいさん 「your older brother」
ーおねえさん 「your older sister」
ーあに 「my older brother」
ーおね 「my older sister」
ーおとうとさん 「your younger brother」
ーいもうとさん「your younger sister」
ーおとうと「my younger brother」
ーいもうと「my younger sister」
ー~ちゃん 「diminutive name suffix」
I’ve not been too big on nicknames, but I guess it’s even more common in other cultures than mine. みずたまりちゃん for example gives ちゃん to the puddle to help make it feel cute and cuddly. This works with people too… replace さん with ちゃん and you’re suddenly expressing familiarity that is not exactly professional.

Remember that ちゃん while expressing closeness, is diminutive. Younger siblings will use ちゃん when talking about older brothers and sisters, though older siblings tend to refer to the younger simply by name. Hooray for hierarchies.

Extended Family

ーおじいさん 「grandfather」
ーおばあさん 「grandmother」
ーおじいちゃん 「grandpa」
ーおばあちゃん 「grandma」
ーおじさん 「uncle」
ーおばさん 「aunt」
ーいとこ 「cousin」
ーともだち 「friend」
yikes… the difference between grandfather and uncle/grandmother and aunt is subtle!

Remember not to use ちゃん when referring to other people’s grandparents.

You can call any older person おじいさん or おはあさん just as anyone 40/60 years old may be called おじさん or おはさん. It’s better to err on the younger side if you can’t tell. Supermarket checkout staff might be called スーパーマーケットのおねえさん or スーパーマーケットのおにいさん


ーしゅじん 「my husband」
ーごしゅしん 「your husband」
ーだんな 「my husband」
ーだんなさん 「your husband」
ーつま 「my wife」
ーおくさん 「your wife」
だんな and だんなさん are more reserved for casual environments, while しゅじん and ごしゅじん are for more formal environments.

Spoken to your own family

ーおかあさんはどこにいますか。(Where is Mom?)
ーおとうさんはばんごはんをたべました。 (Dad ate dinner.)
ーおばさんはどこにいきましたか。 (Where did Aunt go?)
ーおねえさんはへやにいます。 (Big sister is in her room)

Spoken to a friend about your own family

ーちちはいえにいます。 (My dad is in the house)
ーはははえきにいきました。 (My mom went to the station)
ーいもうとはがっこうにいきました。(My little sister went to school)
ーあにがすきです。(I like my big brother)

Spoken to a friend about their family members

ーきょう、おかあさんはここにきますか。(Is your mother coming here today?)
ーおとうとさんはきのうかっごうにいきましたか。(Did your little brother go to school yesterday?)
ーおねえさんはどこにいますか。(Where is your big sister?)
-さん used in the third could only mean that you’re talking about the other person’s little brother, but the other two sentences could still be ambiguous.

Spoken to a friend about their spouse:

ーごしゅじんはすしがすきですか。(does your husband like sushi?)
ーおくさんはどこですか。(where is your wife?)
ーだんなさんはいきましたか。(Did your husband go?)

Spoken to a friend about your own spouse:

ーつまはだいごくにいます。(my wife is at college)
ーきょうしゅじんはきません。(today, my husband won’t come.)

Spoken to a friend about someone unrelated:

ーあのおねえさんがすきです。(I like that [20’s aged] girl)
ーあのおじいさんはどこにいきましたか。(Where did that old man go?)

ーかれ 「he/boyfriend/”that one”」
ーかのじょ 「her/girlfriend/the female equivalent of “that one”」
Japanese don’t have pronouns quite the same was as in English. while these words mean boyfriend/girlfriend, they can also mean he/she. You and I are also just approximations… あなた means something more along the lines of “in that direction”. It’s more indirect than calling someone out directly by name.
ーかのじょがいますか。(do you have a girlfriend?)
ーかれのおかあさんがすきではありません。(I don’t like my boyfriend’s mom)
ーまりこさんはジョンのかのじょです。(Mariko is John’s girlfriend)
ーせんしゅうかれとやまにいきました。(last week, my boyfriend and I went to the mountains).