The Ko-So-A-Do/K-S-A-D Demonstrative word groups are one of the first things you’ll learn in Japanese grammar. When I first saw them, I thought, hey, I got it, no problem. The new spatial differentiation isn’t too hard to understand, even though we don’t use it in English. But then more sets were introduced! And of course, several rules to keep in mind! Here it all is in one place, complete with adorable puppy pics!
These are the four prefixes. You’ll see them everywhere, so it’s best to get familiar with them right off the bat. “ko-“, “so-“, “a-” and “do-”
- こ– this (near the speaker; close enough to touch)
- そ – that (near the listener; or somewhat close, yet not close enough to touch)
- あ – that over there (far from both speaker or listener; off in the distance)
- ど – question word
These prefixes are attached to the following ko-so-a-do series – pronouns, adjectives, locations, “kind/type”, and general directions.
Pronouns (-re) －これ、それ、あれ、どれ・どっち
Use these to say this one, that one, that over there, or which one.
これはおいしいです。This is delicious.
それは何ですか。What is that?
あれはりんごです。That over there is an apple.
English doesn’t distinguish between the last two, we call them both “that”. So keep in mind the perceived distance from the speaker.
The question words distinguish between the number of items.
どれですか。(Which one is it? (three or more items)
どっちですか。Which one is it? (two or more items)
Yes, there are two words to ask “which?”! And I keep mixing these two words up! In any book I’m learning them in, I always choose the opposite one first, maybe because I think it has three syllables, it has to do with 3 or more items.
どちらがすきですか。(Which of these two do you like?)
どれが私のほんですか。Which of these (of 3 or more) are your book?
I figure some of you might be using one of these Japanese grammar books, haha!
Keep in mind since are nouns, they stand by themselves. We can’t say
これねこ (this cat). We can however, say it with the adjective form, covered next.
Adjectives/determiners (-no) ーこの、その、あの、どの
Words in this set are used as adjectives, and must attach to nouns; they are called determiners. Now we can say “this cat” or “that house over there” or “which ____”.
Here my dog is sitting right in front of me with a treat balanced on her house.
この犬はいいです。”This dog is good.”
My daughter is standing next to the dog now, holding a treat for the dog. I am no longer close enough to touch my dog. You could also use this when you’re relating a story and referring back to someone or something that has recently been mentioned.
その犬は白です。 “That dog is white.”
Now our dog is not close to either of us, we have her sitting off in the distance.
あの犬は私たちです。”That dog over there is ours.”
Location – ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ
ここは机です。(This is a desk.)
そこはえんぴすです。(There is a pencil.)
あそこはいすです。(Over there is a chair.)
トイレはどこですか。(Where is the toilet?)
Don’t forget – “that over there” – also takes the “so”, making it あそど. These are pronouns, so they cannot be attached to nouns.
General Directions (-chira) – こちら、そちら、あちら、どちら
These are also pronouns, you can use them for asking directions or showing the way to something.
コンビニはこちらです。The convenience store is this way.
あにめ大会はそちらです。The anime convention is that way.
どちらですか。 Which way is it?
You can also use this to politely introduce people.
きりとさん、こちらはあすなです。(Kirito, this is Asuna.)
Kind Set/attributives (-nna) – こんな、そんな、アンナ、どんな
When you want to say what something looks like, you’d use this set. Unlike the previous sets, these do not refer to “this” specifically, but what this is like, (which sort of). These must be followed by a noun.
そんなねこがすきです。(I like that kind of cat.)
さとりさんはどんなひとですか。(What kind of person is Satori?)