The demonstrative pronouns in Japanese

learn more about demonstrative pronouns in japanese!

The demonstrative pronouns in JapaneseDemonstrative pronouns in Japanese are a set of Japanese language words that can be used when we want to refer to things around us.

The demonstrative pronouns in Japanese

This group of words is also known as ko-so-a-do, since the words are composed of stems of the same phoneme and are used to express ideas according to the situation involved.

This, this and that in Japanese

The first group that we will meet is これそれあれ and どれ.

これ means this, this and this. It is normally used when we are referring to objects close to the speaker.それ means this, this and this.それ is used when we are talking about something that is close to the listener. あれmeans that, that and that and it is used for things that are far from the speaker and listener. Lastly, どれ means "which" and is used to ask questions in Japanese.

So if you want to ask a friend if what you're holding in your hands is cheese, just say:


On the other hand, imagine now that your Japanese friend is bringing a plate in his hand and you want to know if the food he brings is jam. You ask:


Your Japanese friend wants to know if the umbrella in the corner of the room is yours. As the umbrella is far from the two, he asks:


Now imagine that there are several books on a table and you want to ask which one of the books belongs to your Japanese friend. One way to ask this is:


This, this and that in Japanese (the adjectival form)

The second Kosoado group is very similar to the first, this time the words are: このそのあの and どの.

この means this, this, this and is used when referring to objects or people that are close to the speaker. その means this, this, this and is used when referring to things or people that are close to the listener. あの means that, that, that and is used when referring to objects or people that are far from the speaker and listener. Lastly, we have どの which means "which" and is used in interrogative sentences.

Making an analogy with the previous topic, let's use very similar examples. Suppose you are holding a jelly in your hands. As you cook well, your jam is well known in the neighborhood. How are you going to say that to your friend next door? Simple.


Now imagine that in the same room there is a newspaper on a table. This table is in the corner of the room. How to ask if the newspaper belongs to your friend, knowing that the newspaper is far from both of you?


By now, you might be asking yourself: If このそのあの and どの has the same meaning as これそれあれ and どれ, how will I know when to use them? It is quite simple my dear colleague. The basic difference between them is that このそのあの and どのrequire a noun as a complement. There is? That's right. After このそのあの and どの must come a noun, while これそれあれ and どれ are not used with nouns. Got it? The difference is quite simple. Look that:



Did you notice the construction differences?

Because they require a noun, these demonstrative pronouns are also known as adjective demonstrative pronouns.

Many Japanese teachers make a difference between the two kosoado groups above. They usually say that これそれ and あれ mean this, this and that, and that このその and あの mean this, this and that.

The fact that many Japanese teachers make this difference is that they are looking for an easier way to teach the Japanese language, making an analogy with the demonstrative pronouns of the Portuguese language. Despite this, the Japanese don't make this kind of difference.

Anyway, feel free to go with whatever concept you like. If you follow like the majority, making the difference between the two Kosoado groups, you will not make mistakes. And following the way I mention in this article, you won't make any mistakes either. My suggestion is that you follow the way that you find easiest. OK?

Here, There, There and Where in Japanese

The third kosoado group follows a similar idea to the groups in the previous topics, but this time it will be used to indicate the localization of things in Japanese. They are: ここそこあそこ and どこ.

Following the same analogy as the previous Kosoados, I will try to be very clear. ここ is used to indicate the location of objects that are close to the speaker. そこ is recommended to indicate objects close to the listener. あそこ is used for objects that are far from the speaker and listener. AND どこ is used to ask where a place is in Japanese.

Imagine that a Japanese is visiting Brazil. You meet on the street and the Jap is asking for your help because there is no one around who speaks his language. Oh! Japanese doesn't speak Portuguese either.

In the midst of our oriental friend's desperate words and gestures, you can understand a very common phrase ( ホテルはどこですか。 ) and realizes that the Japanese is looking for a hotel. It is worth remembering that you are at the door of the hotel and the Japanese on the other side of the street. You should answer something like:


Now imagine that the hotel is behind the Japanese, on the same side of the street as them. What would you say now?


Now, changing the situation again. Imagine that the hotel is at the end of the street, far away from the two of you. What do you do? Points to the end of the street and says:


Maybe it wasn't one of the best examples, but I think it was understandable when to use those three words. If you looked closely, you must have noticed that the logic of the Kosoado groups is always the same.

Of this type, of that type, like this and like that in Japanese

こんなそんなあんな and どんな are three more Japanese words with the same meaning of これそれあれ and どれ, but they are used in the same way as このそのあの and どの.

It means this, this, this, this, this, this, like this, like this or like this. It can be used to mention something about things that are close to the speaker.

It means this, this, this, this, this, this, like this, like this or like this. Used to mention something about things that are close to the listener.

It means that, that, that, that, that, that, that, like that, like that or like that. In this case, Anna is used to mention something about things that are distant from the speaker and listener.

どんな is a Japanese word used to ask questions by making an analogy with こんなそんな and あんな. In more common cases, どんな can be translated as: "Which kind of", "What kind of" or "Which".

In addition to the meanings already mentioned, the three words above can also be translated as: similarlike (in the sense of comparison - You are like that person). Being able to convey thoughts that something “is of a particular kind” or “somehow” in an idea of comparison. But these meanings depend a lot on the context of the sentence.

Don't be alarmed by these differences, just follow the same analogy of the topics shown so far to know how and when to use each of them. Now let's see some examples.





Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji, copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice , a new window will open where you can view the printable file and practice Japanese calligraphy by covering the gray symbols and then trying to write yourself. Just print and practice.