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TYJ Demonstratives

By Takasugi, May 22, 2017 | |
  1. Takasugi
    8.2. Demonstratives

    8.2.1. Three locations

    Demonstratives are words to point something based on its location. "This" and "that" are English demonstratives. They can also be used to point something talked about in a conversation, such as "That's a nice idea."

    English demonstratives and similar words form pairs, one for things near to the speaker and the other for things far from the speaker, such as "this" and "that", "these" and "those", and "here" and "there". But this system is different from Japanese. If you know Spanish, it will help you learn the Japanese demonstratives. Spanish has three locations for demonstratives, instead of two. For example, a masculine singular object is addressed by these three words: éste, ése, and aquél, each representing near to the speaker, near to the addressee, and far from both. This is the same as Japanese. In this system, not only the speaker's position but also the addressee's position is important. You might think this is complicated, but remember most languages have three kinds of personal pronouns: first person (the speaker), second person (the addressee), and third person (other people). Having three locations for demonstratives is basically the same as having three kinds of personal pronouns.

    Some Japanese demonstratives are shown below:

    Kana:これ
    Romanization:ko re
    Meaning:this one
    Kana:それ
    Romanization:so re
    Meaning:that one
    Kana:あれ
    Romanization:a re
    Meaning:that one
    These are equivalents of this and that, but I added the word one after this and that because they don't combine with a following noun.

    The first one and the second one are the same in English, but they are different in Japanese (and in Spanish, as I have written). The first one, これ, is used for a thing near to the speaker. The second one, それ, is used for a thing near to the addressee. And the third one, あれ, is used for a thing far from both. For instance, imagine both you and a friend have an apple. You call your apple これ and your friend's apple それ. If you and your friend see an apple on a table, both of you call it あれ.

    Demonstratives used in conversation depends on the location of the speaker, the addressee, and the thing that is referred to. The table below shows which demonstratives to be used when A and B are talking:

    The location
    of the referred object
    Demonstratives
    used by A
    Demonstratives
    used by B
    near to both A and Bこれ
    ko re
    this
    これ
    ko re
    this
    nearer to Aこれ
    ko re
    this
    それ
    so re
    that
    nearer to Bそれ
    so re
    that
    これ
    ko re
    this
    far from both A and Bあれ
    a re
    that
    あれ
    a re
    that
    Note that それ and あれ are not used together.


    8.2.2. The ko-so-a-do words

    You might have noticed that the Japanese words for this and that I explained above, これ, それ, and
    あれ, are similar in pronunciation. The Japanese word for which is also similar; it is どれ "dore". Not only these demonstrative pronouns but also other demonstratives and interrogatives have systematic phonemes.

    The demonstratives and interrogatives with the systematic phonemes are called こそあどことば "kosoadokotoba", the ko-so-a-do words. こ "ko" is the prefix for things near to the speaker and not nearer to the addressee, そ "so" is for things nearer to the addressee, あ "a" is for things far from both, and ど "do" is for interrogatives.

    The table below shows most of the ko-so-a-do words:

    LocationDemonstratives
    Near to the speaker
    Demonstratives
    Near to the addressee
    Demonstratives
    Far from both
    Interrogatives
    Pronoun
    (thing)
    これ
    ko re
    this one
    それ
    so re
    that one
    あれ
    a re
    that one
    どれ
    do re
    which one
    Pronoun
    (place)
    ここ
    ko ko
    this place, here
    そこ
    so ko
    that place, there
    あそこ
    a so ko
    that place, there
    どこ
    do ko
    where
    Pronoun
    (direction)
    こっち
    ko t ti
    this direction
    そっち
    so t ti
    that direction
    あっち
    a t ti
    that direction
    どっち
    do t ti
    which direction
    Attributive
    (thing)
    この
    ko no
    this ...
    その
    so no
    that ...
    あの
    a no
    that ...
    どの
    do no
    which ...
    Attributive
    (type)
    こんな
    ko n na
    this kind of ...
    そんな
    so n na
    that kind of ...
    あんな
    a n na
    that kind of ...
    どんな
    do n na
    what kind of ...
    Attributive
    (manner)
    こう

    thus, in this manner
    そう

    in that manner
    ああ
    â
    in that manner
    どんな

    how
    Note that pronouns and attributives are different. Pronouns cannot combine with a noun, while attributives need a following noun. The English word this is used for both "this is a pen" (pronoun) and "this pen is blue" (attributive), but they are different in Japanese. The former is これ "kore", and the latter is この "kono". Compare the English words we and our. We categorize the former as a pronoun and the latter as an attributive here.

    Note that the demonstrative pronoun for a place far from both the speaker and the addressee is あそこ "asoko", not あこ "ako".

    Here is an example of ko-so-a-do words:

    Kana:えきはどこですか。
    Romanization:E ki wa do ko de su ka .
    Structure:(noun, station) (topic marker) (pronoun, where) (copula, is + polite) (question marker)
    Meaning:Where is the station?

    Kana:えきはあっちです。
    Romanization:E ki wa a t ti de su .
    Structure:(noun, station) (topic marker) (pronoun, that direction) (copula, is + polite)
    Meaning:The station is in that direction. (pointing in some direction)

    ← Previous page (Pronouns) | Next page (Body parts) →

    About Author

    Takasugi
    My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

    I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

    I work as a display engineer.

    One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.

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