This article is from the Anime FAQ, by Steve Pearl with numerous contributions by others.
Here are the most common honorifics and terms of address.
-sama Very respectful ending. Not normally used with someone's names. Used to people of superior status, like your boss, or to your guests as a host. Envelopes should be addressed with "-sama". A shopkeeper might call a customer "o-kyaku-sama" (Respected Mr. Customer).
sensei A respectful term meaning "teacher", also used with physicians. Frequently used to refer to experts in a field or people in any respected occupation. Lawyers, master chefs, fashion designers, and even some manga artists are called "sensei". Sometimes used like an honorific with a name or title, as in "kouchou-sensei" (Mr. Principal, Sir).
-san Usual term of respect. It can stand for Mr. and Ms., and is attached to either first or last names, and names of occupations like "o-mawari-san" (Mr. Policeman). You use it for strangers and people you don't know well, but are more or less the same social status. When in doubt, use "-san".
However, never use "-san" with your own name or your family members' names. Also, it shouldn't be used to refer to famous people, since a small degree of intimacy is implied.
High school girls are usually called "-san".
sempai Somebody in the same general social class, but socially superior to you. "Sempai" can also be used as an honorific.
Older students may be addressed respectfully as sempai, especially by girls.
-kun Used by a socially superior male to a socially inferior male. Familiarly used among male students and boys who grew up together. Recently, some teachers call girl students and some bosses call office ladies with "-kun", but it's still considered a masculine suffix.
High school boys are called "-kun". Girls go from "-chan" to "-san" in high school, but boys go through a period of "-kun" in between.
- Calling someone by a family name alone is being very familiar (or rough). Calling someone by given name alone is less rough, but more familiar. Using no honorific when one is expected can be an expression of contempt.
-chan Intimate form of address. Families that are close use it, and "-chan" is often used to, and by, very young children. Used with given names, abbreviations of given names, and nicknames, but not family names. Children who grow up together (like Madoka and Hikaru), may keep using "-chan" into adulthood. Note: to call a social superior "-chan" without reason is very insulting.
Family terms are also common terms of address.
(Note: One may sometimes identify a person by taking the listener's point of view, as when a man refers to himself as "father" to his children.)
Referring to Addressing yours someone's yours (*) someone's grandfather sohu ojii-san ojii-san ojii-san grandmother sobo obaa-san obaa-san obaa-san uncle oji oji-san oji-san oji-san aunt oba oba-san oba-san oba-san elder brother ani onii-san (o)nii-san [Name]-san elder sister ane onee-san (o)nee-san [Name]-san
These six forms of address occur a lot. Children call strangers by the above family member terms, depending on whether what type of relative they consider them old enuf to be. (A good example of this is a scene recently described in this newsgroup where a child addresses a question to a young woman as "oba-san", and she responds, referring to herself as "oNEE-san".)
father chichi otou-san (o)tou-san/papa otou-san mother haha okaa-san (o)kaa-san/mama okaa-san younger brother otouto otouto-san [Name] [Name]-san younger sister imouto imouto-san [Name] [Name]-san daughter musume ojou-san [Name] [Name]-san son musuko musuko-san [Name] [Name]-san wife tsuma/kanai oku-san omae/[Name] oku-san husband shujin goshujin(-sama) anata goshujin(-sama) [Surname]-san
Some ways of saying "you":
otaku very polite sochira very polite anata polite, common(*) kimi informal masculine pronoun, common(*) omae very informal or rough(*) anta very informal or rough contraction temae very rough (Note: can also mean "I") onore very rough (Note: can also mean "I") kisama very rough
Some ways of saying "I":
watakushi very polite kochira very polite watashi polite, common(*) atakushi polite feminine contraction kotchi polite washi informal masculine contraction, used by old men atashi informal feminine contraction boku informal masculine pronoun, common, used by boys/young men(*) uchi informal feminine ore very informal or rough
I've marked with a * the ones that come up frequently. Learning them will make watching unsubtitled anime more pleasant, but there's no need to memorize them, all at once.
You may notice that the very rough words for "you" are often translated as curses. These are pronouns that insultingly imply the speaker's superiority. They come up often as fighting words.
- From a posting by Theresa Martin