Friday, October 7, 2016

kochira, sochira, achira, dochira

In Japanese, kochira, sochira, achira, dochira こちら, そちら, あちら, どちら mean "this way (toward me)," "that way (toward you)," "that way (away from us)," and "what way?" respectively. They're kosoado words related to direction, but they can also refer to sides, choices, and people.

The words kocchi, socchi, acchi, docchi こっち, そっち, あっち, どっち are abbreviations of kochira, sochira, achira, dochira. They're used the same way in some cases, but they aren't considered as polite.

こちらがお客さんだ。 あんたを患者のとこまで連れて行く。
Manga: MONSTER, モンスター (Chapter 2 of Volume 3, ローヤーの法則)

Directional Pronouns

The literal meaning of kochira, sochira, achira and dochira refers to directions.

  • kochira
    This direction, toward me.
    This way, toward here.
    This side, my side.
  • sochira
    That direction, toward you.
    That way, near you.
    That side, your side.
  • achira
    That direction, away from us.
    That way, not near us.
  • dochira
    What direction?
    What way?
    What side?

Some examples of how they're used:

  • kochira ni mukatte kuru!
    To this way, facing and coming!
    • This phrase is used when someone, or an animal, monster, etc. is heading toward you.
    • The verb mukau 向かう means they're "facing" toward you, while kuru 来る means they're "coming" kochira, "this way."
  • achira wa watashi no tomodachi desu
    That way are my friends.
    • My friends are over there.

kochira e こちらへ

The phrase kochira e こちらへ means literally "toward here." It's used when telling people where to go, like when you point toward a door, or entrance, and say kochira e, you should go in there.

The phrase is a bit tricky to understand for two reasons.

First, this e へ is the e へ particle that marks a direction. It's tricky because normally that hiragana is read as he へ, but when it's the particle it's read as e え instead.

Second, the phrase is missing a verb. This actually happens in Japanese more than you would expect. Generally, when it happens, the verb is "to come" or "to go." For example:

  • kochira e kite
    Come toward here.

You may also see it as:

  • kochira e douzo
    Toward here, [if you may].
  • kochira desu
    It's this direction.
    It's [toward] here.
  • achira desu
    It's that direction.
    It's [toward] there. Not to my direction, not to your direction. To somewhere else.

dochira e? どちらへ?

The same thing happens with dochira e どちらへ.

  • dochira e?
    Toward where?
  • dochira e ikimasu ka?
    Toward where are [you] going?

kochira vs. koko

The difference between kochira and koko is that the kochira, sochira, achira, dochira refer to vague directions, while koko, soko, asoko, doko ここ, そこ, あそこ, どこ refer to exact places.

In other words, sochira means "there" in the sense of toward there, while soko means "there" in the sense of that exact spot there. This can be better observed in the following examples:

  • kochira e kite
    Come toward here.
    Come toward this direction.
    • Toward where I'm showing you.
    • Maybe I'm pointing at this door, for example, and you're supposed to go through there.
  • koko e kite
    Come toward here.
    Come toward this place.
    • Toward where I am. This place around me.
    • To my house, maybe. I don't know, if I'm at work, to my workplace.
    • Maybe you're from another country, so to here, to my country.
    • Or you're an alien, so to here, to this planet that is here.

When speaking politely, the word dochira is sometimes preferred over doko.

  • kyou wa doko e iku?
    Where [you] going today?
  • kyou wa dochira e ikaremasu ka?
    Where would [you like] to go today?
    • iku
      To go.
    • ikareru
      To go.
      (passive form.)
    • In polite speech, sometimes verbs are conjugated to their passive forms without making the voice passive. So you have an active voice even with a passive verb.
    • It's weird like that.

Personal Pronouns

From the literal directional pronoun meaning of kochira, sochira, achira, dochira, comes a second, but very common, usage: to refer to people. Making these words also personal pronouns.

  • kochira
    This person.
    I. Me. Us.
    He. She.
  • sochira
    That person. (near you.)
    He. She.
  • achira
    That person. (away from us.)
    He. She.
  • dochira
    What person?

The pronouns konata, sonata, anata, donata こなた, そなた, あなた, どなた also kind of behave this way: they first referred to directions, and then to people in toward those directions.

こちらがお客さんだ。 あんたを患者のとこまで連れて行く。
Manga: MONSTER, モンスター (Chapter 2 of Volume 3, ローヤーの法則)
  • kochira ga okyakusan da.
    Toward here is the customer.
    This here is the customer.
    This person here is the customer.
    This person is the customer.
    He is the customer.
  • anta wo kanja no toko made tsurete-iku.
    [He will] bring you until the patient's location.
    • He'll bring you to where the patient is.
    • toko とこ
      tokoro ところ
      Location. Place. Spot.
ん そちらは・・・? あ
Manga: Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro 魔人探偵 脳噛ネウロ (Chapter 1, 手【て】)
  • n, sochira wa...?
    Hmm, .toward your direction [is]...?
    • Who is that guy?
    • Who is him?
  • a


My Side, Your Side

You may have noticed that kochira こちら can also mean "I" besides "this person." And that sochira そちら can also meann "you" besides "that person."

This works just like when we say, in English, "this side of the deal." The side toward our direction. Then, we're talking about "our side of the deal." Conversely, "that side," is "their side."

Normally, you don't use kochira, sochira, achira as personal pronouns like you would use words such as watashi, anata あなた, and kare.

You use kochira, sochira, achira when you need contrast. There's them, their side, their party, and they're somehow. And there's you, your side, your party, and you're somehow else.

  • kochira mo ganbaranai to
    If my side, too, doesn't put effort.
    • ...then that's no good. Thus:
    • My side, too, should put effort.
    • I, too, should put effort.
    • They're working so hard, if I don't work hard, too, it won't feel right.

The word aite 相手 sometimes appears together with kochira. It's kind of hard to translate, but it basically means the opposing party of an action. The person with whom you're doing something, or with whom you're talking to.

The difference between aite and sochira is that sochira is the listener, the person with whom you're talking to at the moment, while aite isn't necessarily the listener, it's just the "other" of an action.

In some cases, kochira can mean "I" or "we," or even "you," in the sense of what "our side" decides to do. To elaborate:

  • kochira ga aite wo foroo suru
    This side follows the "aite." (on Twitter, etc.)
    • The "aite" is whom we are following.
    • I follow him. I follow her. I follow them.
    • Like, let's say that we follow them on Twitter... then what happens?
    • I mean, they don't follow you on twitter, but what if...
    • You follow them on twitter? Wouldn't that be great?

The words kochira and sochira are particularly used when talking to people over telephone, e-mail, etc. Because then both meanings apply: sochira can mean you, over the phone, or it can mean toward there, where you are.

  • kochira wa genki desu,
    sochira wa dou desu ka?

    My side is fine,
    Your side is how?
    • I'm fine, how are you?
  • kochira wa samui desu,
    sochira wa samui desu ka?

    Toward here is cold,
    Toward there is cold?
    • On this side of the call, where I am, is cold,
      is over there, on the other side, cold?
  • kochira wa atsui desu,
    sochira wa atsui desu ka?

    Here where I am is hot,
    is it hot there where you are?

This same principle also applies to some other words in Japanese.

For example, the word hou 方 means "direction," "way," while kata 方, a different word written with the same kanji, means "person" instead.

Sometimes you may find the phrase kono kata この方, "this person," which works just like kochira こちら, including the fact it can refer to the speaker himself, that is, "this person" can can mean "I," "me."

  • umarete kono kata
    maketa koto ga nai

    Born, this person
    has lost not.
    • [From the time] I was born [until now], [I've] never lost [a fight].
    • koto ga nai ことがない
      After verb: never done that.

kochira koso

The phrase kochira koso こちらこそ means "no, it's I who should be saying it," or maybe doing it. This koso こそ is a bit tricky to explain, but anyway, it's often used when the speaker is thanked or complimented somehow, and he thinks he is the party that should be expressing gratitude instead.

  • arigatou
    [Thank you].
  • iya iya, kochira koso
    No, no, it's I who should say that.
    No, no, it's I who is thankful for that.
  • kochira koso arigatou gozaimasu
    It's I who's thankful for that.
  • kochira koso yoroshiku onegaishimasu
    It's I who's looking forward to working with you.
  • kochira koso gomen nasai
    It's I who's sorry about that.
  • kochira koso sumimasen
    It's I who should say sorry.
    It's I who should say thank you.
    • sumimasen すみません
      This word can mean "sorry for the trouble," so it ends up meaning "thank you for doing that" too.

Of course, gratitude isn't some sort of zero-sum game where one party loses gratitude points by thanking the other. Both people can be grateful to each other for the same thing. So it's more of a matter of manners to say kochira koso than about who should be thanking whom.

(by the way, in Portuguese, the phrase "eu que agradeço" means the same thing.)

sochira vs. achira

The difference between sochira and achira is that sochira そちら is toward the listener, while achira あちら is away from both speaker and listener. This works just like with any other kosoado word.

To have a better idea, let's see an example. Imagine there are three different groups cooperating on a project. Mine, yours, and someone else's. To check how things are going:

  • kochira wa daijoubu
    My side is alright.
    • There's nothing wrong here.
  • sochira wa daijoubu?
    Is your side alright?
    • Are things okay there, with you?
  • achira wa daijoubu?
    Is their side alright?
    • Are things okay there, not with you, but with those other guys?
How kosoado words work, こそあど. An animated gif diagram.

dochira Means "Who"

One of the things dochira means is "who." After all, if kochira can be "this person" and sochira "that person," then dochira must be "what person?" Which you can interpret as "who."

  • dochira desu ka?
    What party are [you]?
    What person are [you]?
    Who are [you]?
  • dochira deshou ka?
    Who would you be?

The word donata can be used similarly:

  • donata desu ka?
    Who are you?

dochira-sama どちら様

The word dochira-sama どちら様 is simply dochira, "who," plus the honorific suffix ~sama ~様. Literally, it doesn't change anything:

  • dochira-sama desu ka?
    Who are you?
  • dochira-sama deshou ka?
    Who would you be?

This might look a little weird at first, but what happens is that, in Japanese, it's normal to attach honorifics to certain nouns that refer to people when speaking politely. This often happens in business situations.

  • kyaku
    o-kyaku お客
    o-kyaku-san お客さん
    o-kyaku-sama お客様

kochira kara こちらから

The phrase kochira kara こちらから, literally "from our side," can be used when the speaker's party is going to do something proactively. That is, when they'll do the thing themselves rather than waiting for the opposing party to act first and then they react.

  • kochira kara kougeki suru
    To attack from our side.
    • We'll attack first, instead of hiding and running away from those Martians!

kochira de こちらで

The phrase kochira de こちらで means "we'll do it by ourselves" most of the time, but it can mean other stuff too.

Grammatically, it's an adverb containing the circumstantial particle de で. It modifies how the verb is done: it's done "with our side," through the power our side has, rather than with your side, with your help.

  • kochira de nantoka suru
    Do it somehow with our side.
    • We'll do it somehow.
    • We'll manage it somehow.
    • You go blast those Martians, don't worry about us. We'll figure out how to deal the planetary shields failing somehow.

Of course, the phrase isn't only used in shounen manga with battles that divide the protagonist's forces by two. It's also used in the real world, in real worldly business.

For example, say two businessmen of different companies are discussing a deal over e-mail. There's a something that needs to be done. The problem is: who is going to do it? At such times:

  • kochira de taiou sasete itadakimasu
    Our side will handle it. (y'all needn't to worry.)
    • sasete itadakimasu させていただきます
      [I'll] have [you] let [us] do it.
    • In polite speech, sometimes you turn verbs into causative and add itadakimasu after them to make the sentence more polite. It doesn't really change the meaning.

The phrase kochira de こちらで can also be used with the literal meaning of "by toward here." As kochira is a directional pronoun. For example:

  • kochira de o-machi-kudasai
    Please wait here.
    • Polite version of:
    • kochira de matte こちらで待って
      Wait there.

Lastly, it's also used when you're showing a choice to someone and asking if it's good with them:

  • kochira de yoroshii deshou ka?
    Is this acceptable?
    • Is this fine? Is this good?
    • Are you okay with this one?
    • Polite variant of:
    • kocchi de ii? こっちでいい?
      This one okay?

Indicating Choices

The words kochira, sochira, achira, dochira can also indicate a choice of one thing over another. In this usage, kochira would mean you'd rather have "this," while sochira, achira would be "that."

dochira Means "Which"

Most of the time, when it happens it's preceded by dochira どちら meaning "which." For example, if someone says:

  • dochira ga ii to omoimasu ka?
    Which one do [you] think is good?

And they're referring to physical objects, then kochira can be used when point to which one you want: "this one" is good.

Normally, however, the question will not be about physical objects but just word choices, then you won't get to say kochira, you'll just say which you want explicitly.

  • okane to shiawase dochira ga hoshii desu ka?
    [Between] money and happiness, which one is wanted?
    • Money or happiness, which one do you want?

Note that when referring to people, polite variants like dochira are preferred because you want to be polite when referring to people. But when referring to abstract choices, there's no such pressure, so the non-polite variant docchi tends to be more common.

私と仕事 一体どっちが大切なの!!
Manga: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。 (Chapter 23)
  • watashi to shigoto
    ittai docchi ga
    taisetsu nano!!

    仕事 一体どっちが大切なの!!
    [Between] me and work, which one is important?!!
    • Which one is more important to you? Me or your job?! CHOOSE ONE!!!1
    • ittai
    • taisetsu
      Important. Precious.

dochira vs. dore

Another word that means "which" is dore どれ. The difference between dore and dochira is that dochira, and docchi, are normally used when you only have two choices, while dore can be used when you have three or more choices.

Imagine you had a bifurcation in your path: do you go this way or that way? Either way, you only have two choices: this way or that way. Likewise, dochira only asks which one of the two.


The words kochira, sochira, achira and dochira are normally written with hiragana, but they do have kanji, so sometimes you may find them written with kanji.

kochira 此方
sochira 其方
achira 彼方
dochira 何方

The words kochira 此方, kocchi 此方, and konata 此方 can all be spelled the same way with kanji, which is probably one of the reasons why they're normally spelled without kanji.

kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉


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  1. Hi!
    great post, it really helped me, i didn't know about this "kosoado", i knew "kore" "sore" "ano , kono" but know with "kosoado" i won't forget XD

    and man, this blog is awesome, please keep the great work, i'm sure a lot of people get benefit with these info but they just don't reply~

    i search you email and didn't found, would like to chat, get some recommendations of manga to read and study~

    i began reading really slowly "yotsubato" and already memorized the whole first chapter so everytime i read the hiragana or any kanji, i remember the words as i read it~
    but soon i will progress to chapter 2
    (i'm reading in "bilingual manga" site, i recommend it ^^ )

    thanks for everything and keep the great work ;D

  2. This is a very clear and informative post. Thank you!

  3. It is one of the most informative post i have read so far about japanese, great work!