Sunday, October 9, 2016

kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉

In Japanese, "Kosoado Words," Kosoado Kotoba こそあど言葉, or even "Kosoado Pronouns," are the words start with ko, so, a, do こそあど, like kore, kono, koko, kou, konna, kocchi, and are used as demonstrative and interrogative pronouns.

A kosoado chart with all the kosoado kotoba ことあど言葉, including the pronouns: kore, sore, are, dore これ、それ、あれ、どれ; kono, sono, ano, dono この、その、あの、どの; koko, soko, asoko, doko ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ; kou, sou, aa, dou こう、そう、ああ、どう; konna, sonna, anna, donna こんな、そんな、あんな、どんな; koitsu, soitsu, aitsu, doitsu こいつ、そいつ、あいつ、どいつ; konata, sonata, anata, donata こなた、そなた、あなた、どなた; kochira, sochira, achira, dochira, こちら、そちら、あちら、どちら; kocchi, socchi, acchi, docchi こっち、そっち、あっち、どっち


Each set of kosoado words refers to a different type of thing, so here are links to articles about each and every one of them:


The part that comes after the ko-so-a-do prefixes is what determines the type of the pronoun. The ko-so-a-do prefixes themselves stay the same, having more or less the same meaning regardless of the rest of the word. Their meanings refer to:
  • ko こ prefix
    Something close to the speaker.
  • so そ prefix
    Something close to the listener.
  • a あ prefix
    Something far from both, but that can be seen or understood.
  • do ど prefix
    Something the speaker doesn't see or know about.


The kosoado words starting with ko こ are: kore, kono, koko, kou, konna, koitsu, konata, kochira, kocchi これ, この, ここ, こう, こんな, こいつ, こなた, こちら, こっち.

They're about the speaker, that is, the guy who's speaking, talking at the moment.

Usage of the kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉 starting with ko こ

Many of those words are often translated as "this," or "this X," or "here," and so on. They refer to something the speaker is holding right now, on his close surroundings, on his side, or something he has done or mentioned recently.

Some examples:
  • kore wa omoshiroi!
    This thing is interesting!
    This is interesting!
  • kono keeki ga oishii
    This cake is delicious.
  • koko wa watashi no ie desu
    Here is my house.
  • naze kou natte-shimatta!?
    Why did [it] end up this manner!?
  • konna omoshiroi manga ga aru nante, shiranakatta
    That a manga interesting such as this existed, [I] didn't know!
  • koitsu wa odoroita!
    This one was surprising!
    [I] was surprised by this one!
  • kochira e douzo
    [Come] toward this direction.
    [Come] here.


The kosoado words starting with so そ are: sore, sono, soko, sou, sonna, soitsu, sonata, sochira, socchi それ, その, そこ, そう, そんな, そいつ, そなた, そちら, そっち.

They are all about the listener, that is, the guy whom the speaker is speaking to.

Usage of the kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉 starting with so そ

Many of those words are often translated as "that," "that X," or "there." They usually refer to something which the listener is holding, something close to him, the physical space surrounding him, his side, his direction, something he has done or mentioned recently, and so on, although exceptions exist.

Some examples:
  • sore wa nani?
    That thing is what?
    What is that? (in your hand?)
  • sono tame ni nandemo shimasu
    For that purpose, [I'll] do anything.
  • soko wa heiki ka?
    Is everything alright there? (where you are?)
  • watashi mo sou omou
    I, too, think in that manner.
    I agree with what you said.
  • sonna ni muzukashii desu ka?
    Is it that much difficult?
    Is it as difficult as you said?
  • soitsu wa ningen da
    That one is human.
    That guy is human.
  • sochira wa dou desu ka?
    How are things there? (where you are?)


The kosoado words starting with a あ are: are, ano, asoko, aa, anna, aitsu, anata, achira, acchi あれ, あの, あそこ, ああ, あんな, あいつ, あなた, あちら, あっち. The aa ああ is a bit of an odd one, but you get used to it.

They're a little tricky, as they refer to things that are far from both speaker and listener.

Usage of the kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉 starting with a あ

These words are also often translated as "that," "that X" and "over there" because English doesn't have a third demonstrative pronoun specific for this situation.

In English, "this" is about the speaker and "that" is about the rest. In Japanese, ko こ and so そ are about the speaker and listener respectively, and a あ is about the rest.

Some examples:
  • are wa akuma ka?
    Is that thing (over there, far from us) a demon?
  • ano ken wa dou narimashita ka?
    What became of that matter? (that neither of us were talking about?)
  • asoko wa tashika ni kowai
    There is indeed scary. (not where I am or where you are, some other place.)
  • minna aa desu ka?
    Is everyone that way? (not the way I am or I assume you are, that way.)
  • anna yatsu ni makenai yo!
    [I] won't lose to a guy like that! (not a guy like me, or like you, like them.)
  • aitsu wa ii yatsu da
    [He's] a good guy. (not me, or you, a third person.)
  • achira wa watashi no tomodachi desu
    In that direction are my friends.


The kosoado words starting with do あ are: dore, dono, doko, dou, donna, doitsu, donata, dochira, docchi どれ, どの, どこ, どう, どんな, どいつ, どなた, どちら, どっち.

They are interrogative pronouns, used to refer to stuff you can't demonstrate, that is, things you don't know about, or things you can't specify exactly.

Usage of the kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉 starting with do ど

These words are translated as "what," "what X," "which," "where," and so on. Their most common use is in asking questions about things, however, they can also be used to say "whatever," "whichever, "wherever" when used together with certain particles to talk about any thing or everything at once, without specifying any one exactly.

Some examples:
  • dore ga hoshii?
    What thing is wanted?
    Which one do [you] want?
  • dono manga ga suki desu ka?
    Which manga do you like?
  • okaasan wa doko desu ka?
    [Your] mother is where?
    Where's your mother?
  • dou yatte katsu?
    How do to win?
    What do [you] have to do in order to win?
  • donna shokugyou ga aru no ka?
    What kind of jobs are there?
  • doitsu?
  • neko to inu, docchi ga suki desu ka?
    Cats and dogs, which one is liked?
    Which one do [you] like? Cats or dogs?


There's a few things to note about how questions work with these pronouns.

As a rule of thumb, any question made with a do ど pronoun can be answered with a ko-so-a こそあ pronoun of the same set, and vice-versa is also true.

This means that if you can have phrases like these:
  • kore kurai
    This much.
  • kore dake
    This little.

Naturally you can also have phrases like these:
  • dore kurai?
    What much?
    How much? (it takes or costs.)
  • dore dake?
    What little?
    How little? (what's the minimum necessary?)

A second rule of thumb is that interrogative pronouns aren't marked by the wa は particle, only by the ga が particle, because interrogatives aren't part of the presupposition and as such can't be the topic of a sentence, they can only be the focus.
  • *doko wa itai?
  • itai no wa doko?
    The [spot] [where] {is painful} is where?
    The [place] [that] {is hurting} is where?
  • doko ga itai?
    Where is painful?
    Where is hurting?

The first example above is wrong, because you can't say doko wa. In the second example, we switch the topic and focus around. Then it's alright because doko is focus, but the sentence becomes backwards. In the third example, we use the focus-marker ga が instead, which is the preferred way.

Do... demo ii

Another interesting note about the kosoado words is that, no matter what kind of pronoun, the structure do...demo ii always has the same meaning. Look:
  • dore demo ii
    It doesn't matter what.
  • docchi demo ii
    It doesn't matter which.
  • dou demo ii
    It doesn't matter how.
  • doko demo ii
    It doesn't matter where.

This structure can also be used with other interrogative pronouns too.
  • dare demo ii
    It doesn't matter who.
  • itsu demo ii
    It doesn't matter when.

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kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉


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  1. "There is indeed scary.".... Engrish at it's frinest!

    1. You can use here/there as nouns in English, and you are complaining about the literal English translation used to illustrate the usage of pronouns in Japanese. Those aren't written so you can behold my insane Englishing skillz, they're there to help people understand how Japanese works.

  2. When youre listing the kosoado suffix rows with bullet points with parts of speech in parenthesis,are you saying those parts of speech are the kinds of clause they form or what?I figure I can derive the details of their qualification requirements from particles and grammar stuff rather than having to go over the examples in their dedicated articles and in this article,would you say that's true?Thanks.

    1. Those are the parts of speech of the pronouns themselves. Both kore and kono translate to "this," but one is a noun, the other is an adjective. Both kou and konna translate to "like this," but one is adverb, the other is an adjective.