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What Does CHAN Mean in Japanese?

what does chan mean? japanese honorificJapanese Language Learning

Hi, it’s Junko from Japan. CHAN (ちゃん) is one of the Japanese honorific titles. We use CHAN for little children, girls, and close friends. It may confuse you about how and when you should CHAN. In this post, I’ll explain how we actually use this honorific in Japan!

For Whom CHAN Is Used?

CHAN is a casual honorific title that women prefer to use in daily conversation. Though CHAN can be available both for male and female names, it’s basically used for children and younger women. It’s only for close people or little children when we use CHAN for men. Remember that CHAN can be used only for familiar people like your friends or family members, and you can’t use it for the elder and superior people.


It’s not appropriate for formal scenes!

Japanese Honorific CHAN is for…

  • Baby
  • Little boys
  • Little girls
  • Friends (usually for women, but can be used for men if they’re very close to you)
  • Family members


I hear there’s another honorific KUN for friends. How do you distinguish CHAN and KUN?


CHAN is for girls, and KUN is for boys. That’s the basic usage!

CHAN is an honorific with adorable and childish impressions. So we may call a baby boy “Tom-chan” but get to call him “Tom-kun” when he grows older. Elementary school students are usually called with “KUN.”


Of course, there’re exceptions. Sometimes boys call each other with CHAN when they’re close friends!

Japanese society values hierarchy when talking and writing. Choosing the proper honorific title is the most basic manner. Check out the links below to learn more about the correct way to use honorifics!

Related Reading about Japanese Honorific Titles

What Does SAMA Mean in Japanese? How to Use SAMA correctly

What Does KUN Mean in Japanese?

Do you still have any questions? If so, please let me know via comment, and I’ll update the post!

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