Monday, April 23, 2018

ojiisan お祖父さん, お爺さん

In Japanese, ojiisan おじいさん means "grandfather," and sometimes refers to and elder man.

It's also romanized ojīsan, with a macron. Not to be confused with ojisan おじさん, without a macron, which means "uncle" instead.


The word ojiisan can be written with kanji in two different ways, depending on the meaning of the word:

  • ojiisan
  • ojiisan
    Elder man.


With family words in o__san お〇〇さん pattern, the o~ お~ prefix can be removed, and the honorific suffix can be changed between ~san ~さん, ~chan ~ちゃん, and ~sama ~さま.

  • ojiichan
  • jiichan
    (same meaning.)
  • ojiisama
    (more respectful.)

The jii じい syllable has a long vowel and may be spelled jii instead.

  • ojiisan

vs. 祖父

The difference between ojiisan and sofu 祖父, which also means "grandfather," and has the same kanji but they're read differently, is that ojiisan has honorifics, but sofu does not.

Since you don't use honorifics toward yourself, when talking to other people about your family, you use sofu 祖父 to refer to your grandfather, and ojiisan おじいさん to refer to their grandfather.

However, when talking to your own family, ojiisan refers to your own grandfather.

Toward Elder Men

The word ojiisan お爺さん can also refer not to your "grandfather" but to an elder man instead. This works just like how in English we can use the word "grandpa" to refer to elder men.

The word ojisan, "uncle," is used similarly toward adult men, and oniisan, "older brother," may be used toward young men and teenagers.

When the word is used like this, it sometimes comes after the demonstrative pronouns kono, sono, ano.

  • ano ojiisan
    That grandpa.
Family Words

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