I assume you don't -san about the company or organization that employs you, on the grounds it'd be akin to using it about your own family members.

But when is it usually used? Is it merely when you're talking about the organization itself (eg "This event was supported by Microsoft") rather than when you're merely talking about something associated with the organization (eg "This product runs on Microsoft Windows")?

  • 1
    Hope you are having a good time at Ruby Kaigi.
    – user458
    Jul 17, 2011 at 23:36
  • @sawa: Hai. So desu. Ii desu.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 17, 2011 at 23:58
  • Reminds me of the OS-tans for some reason... in a humorous or anthropomorphic sense it's probably a lighthearted thing to say.
    – mletterle
    Jul 19, 2011 at 1:37
  • For anyone curious as to what mletterle is referring to: OS-tan.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 20, 2011 at 11:09

2 Answers 2


It can be used for companies because companies have a "quasi-personality", but not for their products. But if you use it for companies, it will sound like you are a business person.

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    I'm planning on thanking Makoto Inoue-san, mame2-san and Google-san for translating my slides, so it'll be more humorous than formal, but thanks for the heads up.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 18, 2011 at 0:06
  • Considering noodle shops and libraries are companies, saying 本屋さん、ラーメン屋さん doesn't make me sound like a businessman.
    – repecmps
    Jul 18, 2011 at 1:59
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    @Andrew Grimm: Anecdotal: I have heard radio personalities use さん in this way to refer to the broadcasting company which is giving them airtime (i.e. TBSさん). Usually this is at the beginning of the show's run, when the relationship between personality and broadcast company has just started. Adding さん to the company name in cases such as this is part of expressing respect and gratitude for a particular privilege or favor. Jul 19, 2011 at 14:58

-san is polite but not honorific. I would use it in polite conversation, in cases where you have some connection with the company you're referring to (maybe they're a customer, or they did some work for your company, or whatever).

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