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:(ko)(re)
Romanization:kore
Meaning:this one

Kana:(so)(re)
Romanization:sore
Meaning:that one

Kana:(a)(re)
Romanization:are
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, (ko)(re), is used for a thing near to the speaker. The second one, (so)(re), is used for a thing near to the addressee. And the third one, (a)(re), is used for a thing far from both. For instance, imagine both you and a friend have an apple. You call your apple (ko)(re) and your friend's apple (so)(re). If you and your friend see an apple on a table, both of you call it (a)(re).

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
(ko)(re)
kore
this
(ko)(re)
kore
this
nearer to A
(ko)(re)
kore
this
(so)(re)
sore
that
nearer to B
(so)(re)
sore
that
(ko)(re)
kore
this
far from both A and B
(a)(re)
are
that
(a)(re)
are
that

Note that (so)(re) and (a)(re) 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, (ko)(re), (so)(re), and (a)(re), are similar in pronunciation. The Japanese word for which is also similar; it is (do)(re) "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 (ko)(so)(a)(do)(ko)(to)(ba) "kosoadokotoba", the ko-so-a-do words. (ko) "ko" is the prefix for things near to the speaker and not nearer to the addressee, (so) "so" is for things nearer to the addressee, (a) "a" is for things far from both, and (do) "do" is for interrogatives.

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

DemonstrativesInterrogatives
LocationNear to the
speaker
Near to the
addressee
Far from both-
Pronoun
(thing)
(ko)(re)
kore
this one
(so)(re)
sore
that one
(a)(re)
are
that one
(do)(re)
dore
which one
Pronoun
(place)
(ko)(ko)
koko
this place,
here
(so)(ko)
soko
that place,
there
(a)(so)(ko)
asoko
that place,
there
(do)(ko)
doko
which place,
where
Pronoun
(direction)
(ko)(small tu)(ti)
kotti
this direction
(so)(small tu)(ti)
sotti
that direction
(a)(small tu)(ti)
atti
that direction
(do)(small tu)(ti)
dotti
which direction
Attributive
(thing)
(ko)(no)
kono
this ...
(so)(no)
sono
that ...
(a)(no)
ano
that ...
(do)(no)
dono
which ...
Attributive
(type)
(ko)(n)(na)
konna
this kind of ...
(so)(n)(na)
sonna
that kind of ...
(a)(n)(na)
anna
that kind of ...
(do)(n)(na)
donna
what kind of ...
Adverb
(manner)
(ko)(u)
thus, in this manner
(so)(u)
in that manner
(a)(a)
â
in that manner
(do)(u)
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 (ko)(re) "kore", and the latter is (ko)(no) "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 (a)(so)(ko) "asoko", not (a)(ko) "ako".

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

Kana:(e)(ki)(ha)  (do)(ko)(de)(su)(ka)(period)
Romanization:Ekiwadokodesuka.
Structure:noun
(station)
topic
marker
pronoun
(where)
copula
(is + polite)
question
marker
Meaning:Where is the station?

Kana:(e)(ki)(ha)  (a)(small tu)(ti)(de)(su)(period)
Romanization:Ekiwaattidesu.
Structure:noun
(station)
topic
marker
pronoun
(that direction)
copula
(is + polite)
Meaning:The station is in that direction. (with pointing at some direction)


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