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Difference between ONII Chan and NII Chan- (All you need to know)

Difference between ONII Chan and NII Chan- (All you need to know)

“ONII-Chan” and “NII-Chan” are two different words in Japanese. Onii-Chan is used to refer to your younger brother, while NII-Chan is used to refer to your older brother. The second one is more polite and sweet than the first one. They are almost the same, but sometimes they have different connotations. It depends on whom you are talking to.

There are numerous dialects of Japanese. It has a lot of alternatives for a single word. Talking about Onii-Chan and Nii-Chan, they differ in age, while gender remains the same. One-meaning younger and NII-meaning elder, while Chan adds a sense of courtesy and endearment to the sentence.

In this article, I will be talking about the meaning of these words along with their references. I will be addressing all your ambiguities. Just make it to the end.

What are the differences between Onii-Chan and Nii-Chan?

The meaning of Nii-Chan is simple: Nii means older brother, and Chan is a suffix that adds a sense of endearment. So, Nii-Chan is a cute way to address your older brother.

There are two definitions for both these terms.

The first definition is the well-known expression that we have already discussed. It is the word you use to call your brother.

It’s worth emphasizing that because it’s a particularly endearing way of referring to your brother, it wouldn’t be used in every situation.

As a result, the words “o-ni-san” or “o-nii-Chan” are formed. It is frequently written as “Onii-chan”. The word for “younger brother” is “otouto.”

The second definition contributes to our understanding. It is used to describe a young man, not just to call him a brother. It also applies to young men who have been misbehaving.

Different Chan endings are used in situations where you want to show more respect or frustration. But we’ll get to that later.

So, we get to know that Nii and Onee are the main differentiating characters. Onee refers to the younger brother. Nii refers to the older one.

Check out this video on the difference between Onii-Chan and Nii-san

How can you differentiate ONII and NII?

Honestly speaking, there are not many differences between the two prefixes. ONII and NII mean the same thing, “older brother”.

In anime, they are referred to as older brothers. But we don’t usually use them in our daily language.

In Japanese, it is used as

(ONII-Chan) is a child, while (Nii-san) is an adult.

Onee-Chan and Onii-chan are informal ways of saying “older brother” and “older sister.” ONII means “big brother,” and Onee means “big sister.”

On the other hand, Chan is a child treatment honorary, as informed and intimate as a diminutive (little sister).

Onii  (casual, broken way)

Onee older sister (casual, broken way)

So, we can say that there are no considerable differences between Onii and Nii, while Onee and Onii are somehow different.

What do you mean by “NII-Chan?”

Nii-Chan means “Oh, brother.” It is a term used to refer to an older brother with respect and honor.

The meaning of nii-chan is simple: Nii means older brother, and Chan is a name ender, or “honorific suffix,” that adds a sense of respect to the word.

So, nii-chan is a sweet and respectable way to address your older brother.

Japanese people typically use

(Ani) when referring to their elder brother

Japanese children typically use

(onii-chan) or (onii-chan) to refer to their elder brother (nii-chan).

I think now you are familiar with the use of Onii, ani, and Onee. And you may also know what Nii means.

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Don’t give up on mastering a foreign language.

What is the English translation of Nii-Chan?

Nii-chan” translates to “big brother.” There are some variations, such as “onii-chan.” It shows more respect. On the other hand, “onii-san” is used if you need to honor someone, with less cuteness and affection. For a loved one, the honorific “chan” is used.

"Ni-chan" has a lot of different meanings.

It’s an endearing way of saying “big brother.” When I think of who would say this, the first people who come to mind are little girls.

This was quite basic. For your understanding, some better and more meaningful versions have been discussed here too.

When you say “ni chan,” you’re referring to your younger brother or sister.

It means "elder brother."

When other people say

It means "Hello you!"

I hope this cleared out all the ambiguities regarding the term “Nii-chan”

What do you mean by “Onee-San?”

We usually hear words like “onii-san” for older brothers and “onee-san” for older sisters a lot. They are the most formal and common suffixes for San. So we have both onii-chan and onee-chan. Onii-san and onee-san can be used as an honorary suffix after a name, as in Micheal-oniichan.

What’s the distinction between Onee Chan and Aniki?

 In different anime such as Ganju, older sister Kukaku is referred to as “Onee-Chan,” and middle child Kukaku as “Onii-San. While the youngest of the Shiba siblings is referred to as “Aniki”, although named Kaien.

With these examples, you may know the distinctions between the two.

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Japanese is a complex language

How do we write Oni-san in broken form and what does it mean?

When broken down, O-nii-San is the correct way to write it. It is a way of giving respect to your older brother.

It is written in Chinese as ;


御 is the first Chinese character that contains the sound “o” and conveys a degree of respect.
It is always attached to the front of words in Japanese, along with their counterpart pronunciation, ご or “GO

Keep that respectful “O” in mind, we see that O can be added to any word for giving respect and honor.

The second kanji 兄 in this word is also written にい and pronounced: “NII”.

Hence it has different pronunciations according to its context. When it’s by itself, it’s as “ani”. You could say “an-Chan” when you want to call someone “sonny.”

兄  means an. 

It’s pronounced “kyou” when it’s part of the word for “siblings,” kyodai. It’s Kei with a certain suffix. In the past, it was possible to pronounce it as “konokami.” The final two characters. さん san is pronounced similarly to Chan and is from the same word family.

San is the middle standard of respect, whereas Chan expresses familiarity and closeness.

After getting all this information, it is quite difficult to learn and process all these Chinese letters and Kanjis, but if we get to them regularly, we can learn where and how to use them.

Check out this video to learn the Japanese language.

What do you mean by Onii-Chan?

Onii-Chan means “older brother”

When referring to detailed meaning, Onii can be followed by one of three Japanese honorifics: such as;

-San, -Chan, or -Sama.

  • San is the standard ending for the standard big bro.
  • Chan is a more compassionate ending for Onii if you adore your big brother and have a strong emotional attachment to him.
  • Sama is a rather formal ending for big brother. It is not having any significant meaning.

Here are some of the Japanese words along with their English meanings.

兄弟Brothers, Sisters
Younger brother
Younger sister
Eldest sister
Japanese words and their meanings in English
An image showing an anime
A Japanese anime consists of several connotations such as Onii-Chan and Nii-chan

What are other ways to refer your older brother?

There are several ways to write and say “older brother”. I will be discussing some of them here.

The first is the plain ‘ol’, which is pronounced: “ani.” This is simply “elder brother.”

 It is written as; 兄

This word belongs to the kenjougo, or “humble language” category. It’s a term you’d use to describe your own older brother to people who aren’t family.

As previously stated, in samurai times, “兄” could be pronounced “konokami.”

However, it was often used in a broader sense in those days, indicating that one was the head of the family.

 It belongs to the Sonkeigo family. It is pronounced “ani-up” and is written as 兄上 

This is called honorific speech, and it’s a good way to stay in your brother’s good books when speaking to him.

It's also a bit of a samurai-era archaism, so not heard often.

兄貴 is pronounced “ani-ki,” and it’s a nice way to address your big brother.

It’s also a term used by non-family members to refer to older boys who sometimes play the role of older brothers.

It’s slangy and a little rough, but it’s a fine word to use.

In English, it roughly translates to "bro."

It is mostly heard in manga and anime, so just focus whenever you hear these words.

What Does NII Sama mean?

For your understanding, let’s break down this phrase in to two individual words; NII and Sama. NII is used to refer a ‘big brother’ personality in your life. This individual doesn’t have to be your brother by blood, the word could be used for someone in a familiar sense.

Sama refers to that person who has a certain authority, someone you don’t want to cross or anger because of their status.

Therefore, NII Sama will be used to refer a person whom you consider your brother but you respect them too and hold them at a high level of regard.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Onii-Chan and Nii-chan are almost the same, as they are used to being called brothers. The difference lies in the age of the brother whom they have to refer to. For example, if the older brother has to be called, Nii-Chan is used, while Onee means the younger brother. In both cases, “Chan” is just the courteous way of referring to the respect and honor of someone older than you. It is a way to express endearment and love.

Apart from Onii-Chan and Nii-Chan, we have Aniki, meaning the youngest of all the siblings. Onii-San means “oldest brother,” while Onee-San means the oldest sister. Thus, the connotations for some of the words are different, but their meanings are quite the same.

There are individual literal meanings for Nii-chan and Onii-Chan, as they mean the youngest man and also the youngest brother. It depends on the way you use, it and the person you need to refer to.

All in all, Chinese and Japanese are quite complex languages that require a lot of hard work to learn and use.

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The web story version of NII chan and ONII chan can be found by clicking here.

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