Non-Specific Subjects

When referring to the subject of a sentence, like how in English there are words such as “this” or “that” there are Japanese equivalents of those words.

> これ・この

これ translates to the word “this,” used to refer to a subject near the speaker.

Kanji Hiragana English
これは私の日本語の教科書です。 これは わたし の にほんご の きょうかしょ です This is my Japanese textbook.

> それ・その

それ translates into the word “that,” used to refer to a subject closer to the listener, and farther from the speaker.

Kanji Hiragana English
それは雑誌ですか? それは ざっし ですか? Is that a magazine?

> あれ・あの

あれ translates to the phrase “that over there,” used to refer to something most likely distant from both the speaker and the listener.

Kanji Hiragana English
あれは動物園です。 あれは どうぶつえん です。 That over there is a zoo.

> どれ・どの

れ translates into the word “which.”

Kanji Hiragana English
どれですか? どれですか? Which is it?

Important: A key thing to remember is that これ, それ, あれ, and どれ are terms that can stand alone in their meaning but cannot show possession.

Kanji Hiragana English
ぞれ? ぞれ? That one? (Casual)

Conversely, この, その, あの, and どの are phrases that cannot stand alone, but show possession to something.

Kanji Hiragana English
このDVDです。 このDVDです。 It’s this DVD.
どのレストランですか?。 どのレストランですか? Whichi restaurant is it?