Demonstrative Pronouns: これ, それ, あれ

For students just starting to learn Japanese, the demonstrative pronouns "kore," "sore," and "are" are very important. These words are used to indicate objects, people, and places. Understanding how to use each one correctly is essential for smooth communication in Japanese.


"Kore" refers to something that is close to the speaker. For example, when the speaker is holding a pen and says "kore wa pen desu" (this is a pen), the pen is near the speaker.

これ お みて ください。 - Please look at this.

This sentence is used when the speaker wants to show something they are holding. The demonstrative pronoun "kore" is used to indicate an object close to the speaker.

これ が わたし の すき な ほん です。 - This is my favorite book.

Here, "kore" refers to a book near the speaker. It indicates possession and preference.

これ お たべて みて。 - Try eating this.

In this example, "kore" is used to offer food that the speaker has, suggesting the listener try it.

これ は だれ の です か? - Whose is this?

"Kore" refers to something near the speaker, and the question asks about its ownership.

これ から えいが お みます。 - I will watch a movie from now.

"Kore kara" indicates a future action starting soon, expressing temporal proximity.


"Sore" refers to something that is close to the listener. For example, if the listener is holding a pen, the speaker would say "sore wa pen desu" (that is a pen).

それ は なん です か? - What is that?

This sentence asks about something the listener has. "Sore" indicates an object near the listener.

それ お ください。 - Please give me that.

Here, "sore" is used to ask for something near the listener. It indicates a request.

それ は いい です ね。 - That is nice.

This sentence uses "sore" to compliment something the listener has, showing approval.

それ は だれ の です か? - Whose is that?

"Sore" is used to ask about the ownership of something near the listener.


"Are" refers to something that is far from both the speaker and the listener. For example, pointing to a mountain in the distance and saying "are wa yama desu" (that is a mountain).

あれ は なん です か? - What is that?

This sentence uses "are" to refer to something far away from both the speaker and the listener.

あれ、 おぼえて います か? - Do you remember that?

Here, "are" refers to a shared memory, something known to both the speaker and the listener.

あれ お みて ください。 - Please look at that.

"Are" is used to indicate something in the distance that the speaker wants the listener to see.

Comparison of Kore, Sore, Are

Understanding the differences between "kore," "sore," and "are" is crucial for effective communication.

PronounUsageExample in JapaneseExample in English
Used for something close to the speakerこれは ペン です。This is a pen.
Used for something close to the listenerそれは ペン ですか?Is that a pen?
Used for something far from both the speaker and the listenerあれは 山 です。That is a mountain.

For example, in a room, you might say:

これ は リモコン です。 - This is a remote control.

"Kore" is used here because the remote is near the speaker.

それ は リモコン です か? - Is that a remote control?

"Sore" is used to ask if something near the listener is a remote control.

あれ は さくら の き です。 - That is a cherry tree.

"Are" is used for the tree outside and far away from both the speaker and the listener.

Practical Examples

Here are some practical examples of how to use these pronouns in conversation:

At the Station

すみません、 この でんしゃ は しんじゅく に いきます か? - Excuse me, does this train go to Shinjuku?

Tanaka-san uses "kono" to indicate the train close to him.

いいえ、 それ は しぶや いき の でんしゃ です。 - No, that is the train to Shibuya.
しんじゅく いき の でんしゃ は あれ です。 - The train to Shinjuku is that one over there.

The station staff uses "sore" for the train near Tanaka-san and "are" for the train farther away.

At a Restaurant

ごちゅうもん は おきまり です か? - Are you ready to order?

The waiter uses "kochira" to refer to the menu they are showing.

はい、 この パスタ を おねがいします。 - Yes, I’ll have this pasta.
それ と、 この サラダ も。 - And also, this salad.

Sato-san uses "kono" for items on the menu close to her.

At a Friend's House

この しゃしん、 みて! - Look at this photo!

The friend uses "kono" to refer to the photo they are holding.

すごい! それ は どこ で とった の? - Wow! Where did you take that?

You use "sore" to ask about the photo near your friend.

In this article, we've explained how to use "kore," "sore," and "are" with detailed examples. These pronouns are essential for indicating objects, places, and people in Japanese. By practicing and understanding their differences, you can improve your Japanese communication skills.

Understanding and practicing these expressions will deepen your grasp of Japanese and enhance your ability to communicate effectively.