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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Konna, Sonna, Anna, Donna - Meaning in Japanese

Watching anime you most likely have heard these words before: konna こんな, sonna そんな, anna あんな and donna どんあ. No, they aren't names of female characters. Okay, they are that too. But these words have other useful meanings in the Japanese language as the pronouns they are.

Like other kosoado pronouns, we can separate these four words like this:
  • kon'na こんな
    Like this thing. Such as this thing.
    The way I'm talking about.
  • son'na そんな
    Like that thing. Such as that thing.
    The way you're talking about.
  • an'na あんな
    Like that thing over there.
    The way neither of us have anything to do with.
  • don'na どんな
    Like what? Such as what thing?

Yeah... it's kind of confusing, but let me elaborate.

Kono vs. Konna

When you use the word konna こんな, for example, you're talking about what "this" looks like. Unlike the pronouns kore, sore, are and dore, and kono, sono, ano and dono, konna, sonna, anna, and donna do not refer to "this" specifically, but what this is like.

For example, kono manga この漫画 means "this manga." Yes, this manga, specifically. This object. However, konna manga こんな漫画 means "a manga such as this." You can use konna manga to talk about kono manga and others like it, but when you use konna you're talking about the attributes which make kono manga special.

Yotsuba and Miura from the manga Yotsubato saying "kaeru," "Frog," and "sonna mono wa toranakute yoroshii," "It's better if you don't catch something like that"

Looking at it the other way, when you want to put emphasis on the attributes of something rather than itself, you use konna. This is why sometimes konna is used when kono would be perfectly acceptable. Like, you can put emphasis on how old something when talking about something which is old by using the word konna instead of kono.

Usage Examples

Anyway, let's see some proper examples because I think that's the best way to understand these weird pronouns.
  • konna furui mono こんな古いもの
    A thing as old as this.
  • konna baka hajimete mimashtia こんなバカ初めて見ました
    This is my first time seeing an idiot such as this.
  • konna ni ureshii koto wa nai こんなに嬉しいことは無い
    There's nothing happier than this.
    I couldn't be happier.
    (with the ni particle, konna becomes an adverb and impossible to translate literally)
  • konna omoshiroi manga ga aru nante, shiranakatta こんな面白い漫画があるなんて、知らなかった
    That a manga as interesting as this existed, I didn't know!
  • ore no imouto konna ni kawaii wake ga nai! 俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない!
    There is no way my little sister is this cute!
  • sonna ni muzukashii desu ka? そんなに難しいですか?
    Is it that much difficult? (as you said)
    Is it that hard?
  • sonna koto aru wake nai! そんなことあるわけない!
    Something like that (which you said) doesn't exist!
  • sonna iiwake ga tsuujiru to omou? そんな言い訳が通じると思う
    Do you think an excuse such as that (which you said) is going to work?
  • anna yatsu ni makenai yo! あんなヤツに負けないよ!
    I won't lose to someone such as that!
  • anna ni tsuyoi noni maketa あんなに強いのに負けた
    He was that much strong and yet he lost.

Konna vs. Sonna vs. Anna

To have a better idea of the differences, take a look at the expressions:
  • konna ni ganbatta noni! こんなに頑張ったのに!
    Even though [I] worked this hard!
  • sonna ni ganbatta noni! そんなに頑張ったのに!
    Even though [you] worked that hard!
  • anna ni ganbatta noni! あんなに頑張ったのに!
    Even though [I] worked that hard!

In all cases, the subject "I" or "you" is assumed and we might be talking about "him" instead depending on the context.

The word konna references to something close to the speaker, for example, just after working hard on something he says "after working this hard."

The sonna refers to the listener, so it's either talking about the efforts of the listener or referring to what the listener said. So if the listener had said "guy X worked real hard" the speaker could tell him that sonna ni ganbatta noni! to mean "even though guy X worked that hard!"

Finally, anna is something distant from both speaker and listener. So it's most likely something nobody has explicitly talked about just now, something they only saw and didn't talk about, something in the past, etc.

Sonna as an Expression

The word sonna alone is often used as an expression when someone said something outrageous. It's actually just an abbreviation missing the rest of the phrase.
  • shinu made hataraitemorau 死ぬまで働いてもらう
    I'll have you work [for me] until you die!
  • sonna... そんな…
    Oh no!
    What a tragedy!
    Plz no.
    Stahp!
    Etc.
  • sonna no iya! そんなの嫌!
    sonna no iya da! そんなの嫌だ!
    I don't want that!
    Anything but that!

Using Donna

Finally, the word donna is, most of the time, not used to make questions, but as a way of saying "for whatever X, Y happens," which is what happens when it's used together with the particle mo も. Take a look:
  • donna shokugyou ga aru no ka? どんな職業があるのか?
    What kind of jobs are there?
  • donna mirai nimo ai wa aru どんな未来にも愛はある
    In whatever future, there is love.
  • donna teki demo ichigeki de taoseru どんな敵でも一撃で倒せる
    [It] can defeat whatever kind of enemy with just one strike.

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