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i have recently come across text which adds さん to places. For example, bookstore is ほんやさん. Is this normal, and in what context?

marked as duplicate by user3856370, macraf, Dono, naruto, l'électeur Dec 31 '16 at 0:43

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  • I do agree on the duplicate but I might suggest leaving this due to its more straightforward title and searchability. – mcmiln Dec 30 '16 at 20:48
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    Don't worry. The system automatically keeps your question, for exactly the reason you suggest. It just adds a link to the other question. – user3856370 Dec 30 '16 at 20:51
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ほんやさん usually means "bookstore owner/worker", but CAN mean the store itself. Adding さん like that to a business name is a common way to refer to such. ほんや = bookstore, さん referring to the person.

On the other hand, mountains are often referred to, ending in さん, and still refer to the place, eg ふじさん = Mt. Fuji. However, this is NOT the same さん. In ほんやさん, the さん is the person-name-honorific さん; in ふじさん, it is 山 with a reading of さん. These usages are not related.

Edit: Sorry, apparently, with さん it can STILL mean the place. AFAIK it does more often refer to the person, but you'll have to divine it from context to be sure.

  • This is interesting and I did not know this, but is it more common to refer to the shop owner as such or to actually call them a "worker/employee" – mcmiln Dec 30 '16 at 20:50
  • In Japanese, people are usually referred to as their function, like 本屋さん, or even 天気情報のお姉さん (the "sister" presenting the weather forecast). – Right leg Dec 31 '16 at 0:31
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    Not true. ほんやさん can still refer to the store. – l'électeur Dec 31 '16 at 0:45
  • Is there something i can read that says more on that? I've never encountered it used like that. – C.C. Jan 3 '17 at 17:03
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    ^ @C.C. How about: okwave.jp/qa/q4990320.html or for a list of examples: oshiete1.nifty.com/qa8651822.html / rutadeseda.org/kumon-vocabulario.pdf (page 3) – Chocolate Jan 4 '17 at 2:29

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