In America, parents can address their son as son. For example, "Son, could you open the window for me?" Do Japanese parents address their son as 息子?

  • Also in Spanish ("hijo"), by some people.
    – Pablo H
    Oct 19, 2021 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


No, we basically never do that in Japanese culture, which is why it took me and my classmates by surprise to learn, in our English class back in junior high school, about that custom in the English-speaking world.

We would use the actual name or nickname of the son nearly 100% of the time.

The only time that I could think of parents (mostly fathers) addressing their sons as 「息子{むすこ}」 would be in very serious/important letters or poems. In such cases, it would generally be 「息子」 instead of just 「息子」.

Even on those occasions, however, many parents would still just use the actual name.

  • 1
    How about when they address them directly without using a name? For example, would a father call a son or daughter お前? Is that too strong?
    – kandyman
    Nov 4, 2019 at 22:35
  • 1
    Using words like「きみ」「おまえ」 requires that the listener be aware that the speaker is talking to them. If you’re trying to get the listener’s attention, something like 「おい」 would be more situationally appropriate. Not a good practice though, as l’electeur said, it’s name or nickname almost 100% of the time. Nov 5, 2019 at 9:24
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    For completeness, other family words are used as vocative/pronoun: お兄ちゃん、お母さん、おじいちゃん, and so on.
    – Pablo H
    Oct 19, 2021 at 17:03

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