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Japanese has demonstratives (words for pointing to the subject of discussion) much in the same way that many other languages do. Japanese demonstratives are highly regular and take four standard prefixes:

  • こ〜, for objects close to the speaker;
  • そ〜, for objects closer to the listener;
  • あ〜, for objects far from either; and
  • ど〜, for question forms.
れがあなたのものですか? — Which is yours?
れです。 — (It) is this.
れです。 — (It) is this.
れです。 — That over there (yonder).

These are suffixed with various pronoun indicators that are listed in the table below.

Japanese also makes a destinction between a prenominal form and regular form, meaning that the prenominal form must describe a noun that follows. For example, in the sentence "This cat" the word "this" describes the cat. The prenominal form replaces the れ with a の. In that way, "あの", "その" and "この" are the prenominal forms of "this" and "that".

あのねこはわかいです。 - That (distant) cat is young.
Here (こ〜) There (そ〜) Distant (あ〜) Question (ど〜) Suffix Usage



that by you





[〜れ] Objects (normal); a demonstrative pronoun to replace naming objects. For example, you can name a thing that the listener is holding in his hands, or a house that the listener is standing by just "それ sore".

this ~


that ~ by you


that ~


which ~

[〜の] Objects (prenominal); indicates objects located somewhere. Must be followed by a noun. For example, "あの ひと ano hito" means "some person" or "a certain person" distant (but known) from both speaker and listener. The [〜の] suffix is used not only with the こ, そ, あ and ど stems, but also with other pronouns and nouns to indicate genitive.



there by you





[〜こ] Location. Refers to a place. Note that "あそこ asoko" is the correct way of saying "that place over there", not "あこ ako".

this way


that way by you


that way


which way

[〜ちら] Direction Direction or point of origin. There is also a shortened form of "〜ちら chira" - "〜っち tchi", which is almost as polite as the full form and is rather widely used, although should be avoided when speaking at formal events. In some translations. it may seem rather similar to the 〜う u group, but in reality it is different, as the 〜ちら chira group means direction, way to go somewhere, or sometimes place, but the 〜う u group means ways or methods to do something. Words belonging to the 〜ちら group are also a formal replacement for the 〜こ group.

this kind of


that kind of


that kind of


what kind of

[〜んな] A kind of. Indicates a class of things, and is usually translated as "such a" or "kind of". For example, "どんな いろ" means "what kind of color". "〜ういう" may be used instead of "〜んな nna". Note that the あ a-form of the "〜ういう uiu" is "ああいう aaiu".

in this way


in that way


in that way


in which way

[〜う] A way. Expresses a way of doing something (method). For example "どう dou" can be translated as "how", and "そう sou" can be translated as "that way" or "so". Note that the あ a-form is "ああ aa", not "あう au".

this person


that person by you


that person


which person

[〜いつ] A person. Nowadays this is a rather rude way to name persons. For example, speaking of a person you do not respect and/or who is lower than you in social hierarchy, who is not there when you are speaking of him, you may use "あいつ aitsu" meaning "that guy". This is only to be used informally. An acceptable way to express the same meaning is using a word from the 〜の group followed by ひと (人), e.g. "あの ひと", meaning "that person".





that person, you



[〜なた] A person. While 〜いつ itsu is just rude, this one is trickier. Originally, あなた anata was rather honorific, but now it is either neutrally formal when addressing strangers (it is a standard way of telling "you" taught in most Japanese language courses), or intimate (this is what a wife uses when talking to her husband to address him). Like all pronouns, you should avoid using あなた if possible. A more common way to refer to someone is by their name with the appropriate suffix (さん, くん, ちゃん) and not to use other pronouns of this group unless you know what you are doing. こなた konata and そなた sonata are rare nowadays, although you may still encounter them in classic literature or in movies about historical events. どなた donata is a polite word for "who?".

Note that the 〜ちら chira group may be used instead of the 〜こ ko group and also may be appended with の no instead of the 〜の no group in some cases in more official (formal) expressions. For example, "こちらの kochira no" can also mean "this (object/thing)".

Which which[edit | edit source]

There are several ways to say which depending on the number and item being asked about.

While these are by no means hard rules, "どちら" is more used particularly for two objects while "どれ" is mainly used for three or more items. For a particular item one can use "どの〜" (for whatever number) though "どちらの〜" is also common.

どちら(みち)()きます か 。 Which way will you take?
(なまり)(きん) と で は 、 どちら(おも)い か 。 Which is heavier, lead or gold?
どっち()って も (うれ)しい 。 Which ever wins, I'll be happy.
どの 電車(でんしゃ)()る の です か 。 Which train are you catching?
どの (いぬ) が あなた の もの です か 。 Which dog is yours?
どの (くつ) を はく つもり です か 。 Which shoes are you going to put on?
どの チーム が ()つ だろ う か 。 Which team will win?
大中小(だいちゅうしょう) あります が どれ に します か 。 We have large, medium, and small, what size do you want?

Also...[edit | edit source]

どのくらい, どれぐらい

"どのくらい" or "どれくらい" is a phrase for listening to the "at degree" or "grade" like "How many?" or "How much?" in English.

In Japanese, “くらい” or “ぐらい” means "at degree" of English. And "くらい" is one of noun.

"ぐらい" is the euphonic change of "くらい" .


There are two meanings of "How many " or "How much".

One meaning is a phrase to listen to the "at degree", as in “どのくらい” above.

Another meaning is an expression used as an antonym question when you want to emphasize that the degree is high or low.

:どれほど、あるいた か! How much have I (or he or she) walked! (I walked very much!)

In form, above sentence is a question form, But the meaning is not question.

The meaning is “I walked very much”, and I emphasize that.

Unlike English antonym questions, Japanese antonym questions give a somewhat high-pressure impression, so be careful when using them.


None, all, some[edit | edit source]


"どれか" is used to mention one or few from a plurality of items.


"どれも" and "どれでも" is used when everything introduced in topic is matched to the topic theme.

A note on kanji[edit | edit source]

The prefixes have kanji, but these are written in kana in modern Japanese. They are:

  • こ〜: 此
  • そ〜: 其
  • あ〜: 彼
  • ど〜: 何

Some of the suffixes similarly have kanji:

  • 〜こ: 処
  • 〜ちら: 方
  • 〜いつ: 奴