This/That and Here/There in Japanese
I've studied some Japanese before (and even took a night class) so I understand the distinction for the Japanese terms for this/that which are slightly different to English. I'll admit I'm a bit rusty though and only ever learned conversational Japanese.
これ "this" (near speaker)
それ "that" (near listener)
あれ "that [over there]" (distant from both)
この "this" (near speaker)
その "that" (near listener)
あの "that [over there]" (distant from both)
These don't translate perfectly into English but I managed to get through the this/that lesson fairly quickly. However, I'm having more trouble with directions. Specifically the words for "[over] there":
Is there a similar pattern to これ・それ・あれ going on here or is something else going on? Would appreciate if anyone could explain the underlying meaning or different usage of these words.
Similarly for "[over] here":
Why does have 2 forms and with different verbs? Can anyone give me contexts where one or the other would be used (e.g., pointing in the street vs. on a map)?
>Is there a similar pattern to これ・それ・あれ
Yes, but you've got slightly the wrong list. You are probably looking for: ここ - Here そこ - There (by the listener) あそこ - Over there (away from both speaker and listener)
「そこう」 isn't a word in this pattern but probably just a typo for 「そこ」. 「むこう」 DOES mean something similar to あそこ; it means something like "on the other side" or "opposite from here" or maybe "way over there", but it isn't a part of the こ・そ・あ・ど pattern that the other words fit into.
I think the other thing you are thinking of in the こ・そ・あ・ど pattern is: こちら - in this (speaker's) direction そちら - in your (listener's) direction あちら - in that direction (away from both speaker and listener)
It can be a bit confusing because the above are also used as more formal ways to say ここ、そこ、and あそこ, and even extremely formal ways to refer to people. I doubt the later form will show up in any of the Duolingo lessons so it's probably not worth dwelling on anything other than the spacial relationships for now.
As for your second question, 「ここです」 can be thought of as meaning literally "XXX is here" and 「ここにあります」means literally "there is XXX here". In both cases the XXX refers to the omitted subject or topic that you'll understand from context. The crux of this is that when pointing out where something is located, they are interchangeable*.
*There IS a sticking point though, in that "あります" can only be used to indicate non-living things. So you could say: 「がっこうはここにあります」 or 「 がっこうはここです」 to say "The school is here."
But you could only say 「いぬはここです」 to say "The dog is here." If you are curious 「います」is the "living form" of 「あります」so you could say 「いぬはここにいます」. Likewise, it would be incorrect to say 「がっこうはここにいます」because school isn't something that is alive**.
**As this is Japanese there are of course, even more exceptions. Though plants are living, you would use あります instead of います generally. And although it would be tough to argue robots are alive, it is more natural to refer to them with います instead of あります
Thanks that does clear up a few things. Thanks for pointing out that どれ and どこ also fit the pattern for this/that/which or here/there/where. I had not noticed that before! That will really help to know which to use where*.
It is good to know that ここ・そこ・あこ・どこ and こちら・そちら・あちら also fit this pattern. That really helps to understand and distinguish them. Probably not a great idea to introduce them all in the same lesson but I do generally agree with the thematic design and conversational focus on Duolingo.
I think another issue is that Duolingo translations a while bunch of these simply to "here" or "there", losing their specific meanings or usage. This is particularly difficult for the English->Japanese exercises as there's about a dozen ways to translate "[it is] there". Hopefully they will be able to provide more hints, explanations, and more specific English sentences to translate from the in the future as relying on guesswork makes the lesson rather tedious. I get the impression that directions will be a lot easier to understand in context with maps, gestures, etc. Until then, this explanation has helped to bridge the gap a fair bit.
*pun very much intended.