Demonstrative Pronouns


Demonstrative pronouns, or 指示代名詞しじだいめいし , are crucial in Japanese for indicating and referring to objects or ideas in context.

Understanding their usage is key to navigating daily conversations and descriptions effectively.

Exploring Demonstrative Pronouns

Japanese demonstrative pronouns are unique in their categorization, which is based on the physical or conceptual distance from the speaker or listener.

Proximal to the Speaker (This/These):

“これ” (kore) and “この” (kono) are used when the speaker is referring to something in their immediate vicinity.

  • “これ” stands alone and can be used as a subject or object. Example: “これは新しいですか?” (Kore wa atarashii desu ka? – Is this new?)

  • “この” is always used with a noun, adding specificity. Example: “このレストランは美味しいです。” (Kono resutoran wa oishii desu – This restaurant is delicious.)

Near the Listener (That/Those):

“それ” (sore) and “その” (sono) indicate objects or concepts closer to the listener than the speaker.

  • “それ” is independent and versatile. Example: “それを見せてください。” (Sore o misete kudasai – Please show me that.)

  • “その” pairs with a noun to clarify what you’re talking about. Example: “そのアイデアは面白いですね。” (Sono aidea wa omoshiroi desu ne – That idea is interesting, isn’t it?)

Distant from Both (That over there/Those over there):

“あれ” (are) and “あの” (ano) refer to items or ideas distant from both parties.

  • “あれ” is a standalone pronoun for distant objects. Example: “あれは何ですか?” (Are wa nan desu ka? – What is that over there?)

  • “あの” prefaces a noun for specificity about something far. Example: “あのビルは高いです。” (Ano biru wa takai desu – That building over there is tall.)

Choosing the Right Pronoun for Abstract and General References:

“どれ” (dore) and “どの” (dono) are invaluable when asking about a choice among several options.

  • “どれ” asks “which one?” among many. Example: “どれが一番いいですか?” (Dore ga ichiban ii desu ka? – Which one is the best?)

  • “どの” is used with a noun to ask “which?” Example: “どの映画を見たいですか?” (Dono eiga o mitai desu ka? – Which movie do you want to watch?)

Utilizing Demonstrative Pronouns in Various Contexts

Demonstrative pronouns in Japanese are versatile and can be used to refer not only to physical objects but also to abstract concepts, situations, or previously mentioned topics.

Using “これ” for Current Situations or Ideas:

“これ” is often used to comment on the present context or situation. It can introduce an opinion, observation, or a reaction to the immediate circumstances.

  • “これは良いチャンスです。

” (Kore wa yoi chansu desu – This is a good opportunity.It’s also used to bring attention to a current topic of discussion.

  • “これについてどう思いますか?

” (Kore ni tsuite dou omoimasu ka? – What do you think about this?)

Using “それ” to Refer to Previous Topics or Ideas:

“それ” serves to refer back to something already mentioned, making it useful in continuing a conversation or revisiting a previous point.

  • “それは先週の会議で話し合われました。

” (Sore wa senshuu no kaigi de hanashiawaremashita – That was discussed in last week’s meeting.)

It’s often used to connect thoughts or arguments in a discussion.

  • “それに基づいて、私たちは計画を進めるべきです。

” (Sore ni motozuite, watashitachi wa keikaku o susumeru beki desu – Based on that, we should proceed with the plan.)

Using demonstrative pronouns for emphasis or specificity adds depth and clarity to communication in Japanese.

Emphasizing with “この”:

“この” is perfect for emphasizing a specific aspect or quality of something in close proximity to the speaker.

It’s used to highlight a particular characteristic:

  • “この古い町には魅力があります。

” (Kono furui machi ni wa miryoku ga arimasu – This old town has its charm.)

Can be used to stress personal opinions or preferences:

  • この点において、私は異なる意見を持っています。

” (Kono ten ni oite, watashi wa kotonaru iken o motte imasu – On this point, I have a different opinion.)

Specificity and Storytelling with “あの”:

“あの” is effective in storytelling or recollecting, referring to something or someone well-known or previously discussed.

Useful in reminiscing:

  • “あの夏の日の思い出はいつも心に残っています。

” (Ano natsu no hi no omoide wa itsumo kokoro ni nokotte imasu – The memories of that summer day always remain in my heart.)

In narratives, it introduces familiar subjects:

  • “あの有名な画家の作品を見たことがありますか?

” (Ano yuumei na gaka no sakuhin o mita koto ga arimasu ka? – Have you ever seen the works of that famous painter?)


The effective use of demonstrative pronouns is essential for clear communication in Japanese.

By understanding their various forms and applications, you can express yourself more precisely and understand others better.

Practice incorporating these pronouns into your daily conversations to become more fluent and confident in your Japanese communication skills.