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?

  • 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

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.

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  • 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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