Welcome everyone, this is Mac with another N5 Grammar Lesson from JLPT Boot Camp. Last episode, we learned how to use the casual and polite past forms. Today, we are going learn about how to talk about this in Japanese. We are going to look at a few, very short exchanges. Let’s give it a try.
Matt and Yu are at a sweets shop. They are friends, so they will be using the casual form.
What is that?
Yu: これは いちご だいふく。おいしいよ。
Korewa ichigo daifuku. Oishiiyo.
This is strawberry daifuku. (It’s) delicious.
Breaking that down, Matt says それ, that, は, the topic marking particle, and finally 何, what. All together, he is asking “what is that?”.
Yu responds with これ, this, は, the topic marking particle, いちご, strawberry, だいふく, literally big happiness, which is the name of kind of Japanese sweet, then おいしい, delicious, and finally よ, a particle used for emphasis.
だいふく, if you are not familiar, are sweets that are mochi with strawberries in them.
Let’s go over the grammar. In Japanese, there are a whole series of words that begin with こ, そ, あ, or ど. Today we are going over pronoun and the adjective versions of these words. Let’s go over the pronouns first. これ is something being held or touched by the speaker, or previously mentioned by the speaker. それ is close to the listener, equidistant or somewhat close to both speaker and listener, or has been previously mentioned by the listener. あれ is generally away from both speaker or listener, or something understood by both speaker and listener but not necessarily in the immediate area.
So, you might be wondering about that last one – あれ. This can refer to something that you the speaker had been talking about previously, and now you can’t remember the specific name, or you don’t want to mention the name of the thing for whatever reason.
Let’s give it a try in a sentence. Can you say ‘That over there is a nice car.’?
That (over there) is a nice car.
Let’s go over that quickly. あれ, that (over there), は, the topic marking particle, いい, nice or good, 車, car, and finally です, the copula.
Now, Yu is asking about Matt’s preferences.
Matt: どれが すき。
Which do (you) like?
Breaking that down, どれ, which, が, the subject marking particle, remember we usually need が with question words like this one, and then すき, liked. All together, she is asking ‘Which do you like?’
Matt responds with simply これ, this.
Now, Yu is using どれ. どれ is used to ask which thing. There are three basic patterns for which questions at the N5 level:
The first one is –
Which do (you) like?
Remember that the が particle, which usually marks the subject of a sentence, can mark the object of certain sentences if the sentence is expressing a state. At the N5 level, this usually means you are expressing some kind of preference. For example, you are asking about what you like, or what you want to do something with.
You could ask something like the following:
Which do (you) like?
Which do (you) want to eat?
With other verbs, you would normally use を, the object marking particle like in this 2nd pattern.
どれを + verb + か.
Dorewo + verb + ka.
Which did you …?
For example, we can ask the following:
Which did (you) see?
Let’s give it a try with the second pattern. Can you say ‘Which one did you buy?’
Which did (you) buy?
Breaking that down, どれ, which, を, the object marking particle, 買いました, the past polite form of 買う, to buy, and finally か, the question marking particle. We are using を here because this is an action being performed on an object, and not expressing a state.
Finally, if you want to ask about which one you are going to choose, we can ask this 3rd pattern:
Which one are you choosing? Lit., which do you do?
Note the use of the に particle here, and the verb する to mean ‘choose’.
Let’s go back to Matt and Yu, who are now looking at the cakes.
Let’s go back to Matt and his co-worker. The next day, Matt’s co-worker asks about his hobbies as well.
Yu: このケーキは とてもあまいよ。
This cake is really sweet!
Matt: でも、そのケーキは ちょっと
Demo, sonokeekiwa chotto ookii.
But, that cake is a little big.
Breaking that down, この, this, ケーキ, cake, は, the topic marking particle, とても, very, あまい, sweet, and finally よ, a particle used for emphasis. All together she is saying ‘This cake is very sweet.’
Matt responds with その, that, ケーキ, cake, は, the topic marking particle, ちょっと, a little, and finally 大きい, big. All together, he is saying ‘That cake is a little big.’
Now, Matt and Yu are using the adjective versions of this, that, that (over there), which are different from the pronoun versions of these words. So, what do I mean by that? In English, the words this and that can be used in a variety of ways right? We can say:
I like this cake. (while pointing to or holding the cake)
I like this. (while pointing to or holding something that can be understood from context)
In the first sentence, ‘this’ is acting like an adjective. In the second sentence, ‘this’ is acting like a pronoun. In Japanese, there are two different words that serve these two roles. For the first sentence, you would use この, the adjective, or grammatically speaking a pre-noun adjectival, which basically means they need to always go in front of a noun. So, to say this first English sentence in Japanese, we would say the following:
(I) like this cake.
And for the second sentence, you would use これ:
(I) like this.
This second set of こ, そ, あ, ど words have similar meanings to the first set. Let’s go over those again. この, is used to describe something being held or touched by the speaker or previously mentioned by the speaker. その, is used to describe something close to the listener, equidistant or somewhat close to both speaker and listener or has been previously mentioned by the listener. This is often the translation given for English ‘the’. あの, is used for something generally away from both speaker and listener, or something understood by both speaker and listener but not necessarily in the immediate area.
If you are familiar with the の particle, this kind of makes sense. If you want a to modify a noun with another noun. In other words, use a noun as an adjective. You can place a の particle between them. For example, you can say マットの ケーき, Matt’s cake. By proxy, you might think you can say something like これの ケーキ. Unfortunately you can’t, but it’s pretty close right? You just take out the れ part. Another way to think about it is that the の at the end looks like a hook, and that hook needs to hook onto a noun.
Let’s give it a try. Can you say ‘That store over there is big.’? Store in Japanese is みせ.
That store over there is big.
Exactly, going over that quickly, あの, that over there or something speaker and listener are familiar with but not in the same area as, みせ, store, は, the topic marking particle,
And now Yu has one final question for Matt.
Yu: どのスイーツが すきですか。
Which sweets do (you) like?
Matt: ドーナツが すき。
(I) like donuts.
Breaking that down, どの, which, スイーツ, sweets, が, the subject marking particle used here because of the question word, and finallyすき, liked . All together, she is asking “Which sweets do you like?”.
Matt responds with ドーナツ, donuts, が, the subject marking particle, and finally すき, liked. All together, he is saying “(I) like donuts”.
Yu was using another way to ask which, どの. Again, this is an adjective, so it needs a noun after it. There are two common patterns for this question word at the N5 level.
The first one is,
どの + noun + が + すきですか。
Dono + noun + ga + sukidesuka.
Which … do you like?
Again, we need to use the が particle with すき, and when we talk about what we want to do (～たい), and anything that shows more of a state than an action taking place.
どの is also often used with the を particle when an action is taking place like in the following pattern:
どの + noun + を + verb + か。
Dono + noun + wo + verb + ka.
Which … do you like?
Can you give it a try one time? Can you say ‘Which movie do you like?’ Movie in Japanese is えいが.
Which movie do (you) like?
Exactly, going over that quickly, どの, which, えいが, movie, が, the subject marking particle, すき, liked, です, the copula, and finally か, the question marking particle.
You ready for a pop quiz? I’ll give you the English, can you translate it into Japanese?
This is expensive. (location)
For ‘this is expensive’, you would say ‘これは 高いです。’. Breaking that down, これ, is, は, the topic marking particle, たかい, tall or expensive, and finally です, the copula. To be fair, this might be a little ambiguous in some situations. Some people might think you are talking about the actual height of the object and not the price. To be clear, you could say ‘これは ねだんが 高いです。’, literally the price is high.
Which is good? (location)
For “which is good?”, you would say ‘どれが いいですか。’. Breaking that down, どれ, which, が, the subject marking particle, いい, good, です, the copula, and finally か, the question marking particle.
The shirt is new. (polite)
For ‘the shirt is nice’, you would say ‘そのシャツは 新しいです。’ Breaking that down, その, that or ‘the’ as it is often translated as in English, シャツ, shirt, は, the topic marking particle, 新しい, new and finally です, the copula.
Which restaurant did you go to? (polite)
For ‘which restaurant did you go to?’, you would say ‘どのレストランに 行きましたか。’ Breaking that down, どの, which, レストラン, restaurant, に, particle marking a location, 行きました, the polite past of 行く, to go, and finally か, the question marking particle.
Today, we took a look at our first two sets of こ, そ, あ, ど words. First, we went over pronouns – これ – this, something the speaker is holding or is close by; それ – that, something that the listener is holding or mentioned; あれ – that (over there) something far away from both speaker and listener or something that both have previous knowledge about. We also learned about the question word どれ for asking which questions.
Second, we went over the adjective versions, or more specifically pre-noun adjectivals that must go before a noun. They have the の kana, which looks like a hook and must hook on to a noun. They have similar meanings to the pronouns – この – this, describing something closer to the speaker or under the speaker’s control; その – that, describing something closer to the listener or under the listener’s control, or equidistant from speaker and listener; あの – that (over there), describing something physically distant from both speaker or listener or something that both speaker and listener have knowledge about.
And we can also use どの with a noun to ask which questions.
That’s it for this episode. For notes and more practice with the grammar point, stop by the JLPT Boot Camp courses site. There you can find quizzes, study guides for this grammar point and every grammar point covered in the videos. You can also get all of your questions answered you might have. Just leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.
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