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  5. "あれは何ですか?"


Translation:What is that?

June 8, 2017



Sore and are both mean that?


Sore /それ implies "that" but for things that are closer, while Are/あれ is "that" for more far off things.


Is this distinction strictly maintained in daily conversation? What would be the distance to switch from それ to あれ?


It has ti do with the distance from the listener. In english we have "this" for things close to the speaker (either distance or time) and "that" for things farther away. Japanese has "kore/kono" for things close ti the speaker, "sore/sono" for things close to the listener, and "are/ano" for things far from both of them.


How about for unknown things? Like you friend says "I got a schmoople today" and you ask him, "What's that?"


I'm not sure if this is exactly correct, but これ/それ/あれ are differentiated by "distance" so if you're talking about the concept of a schmoople, when your friend says it, presumably the idea is close to them (in their head) but far from you (you weren't thinking about schmooples), so それは何ですか? (or more likely 何それ?if you're friends).

Alternatively, if you were reading a book and a schmoople appeared in the story, you might look at your friend and say 「"schmoople"って、何これ?」

Or your teacher walks in and says "I got a schmoople today", so you might look at your friend and say 「何あれ?」, then back at your teacher and say 「何それ?」


In that case i think "sore" would be the right one to use. なにそれ?


Friend:今日は schmoopleをかいました! You: それは何ですか? (More casual:何それ?) Since the friend (listener) bought the schmoople, it is presumably closer to the listener which means you should use それ. I think if you were talking to your friend about a mutual friend who bought a schmoople instead, you would still use それ because the listener brought it up. The topic is "closer" to the listener since they are the ones who mentioned it. I think あれ refers specifically to a physical distance that is far for both the speaker and listener.


Dont forget "doreどれ/donoどの" for "which" (when comparing multiple things).


Perfect explanation. Also, i think that sore, core and are can be translated as who, like 'who is that'.


Not quite; sore/are would be the "that" in "who is that?" "Who" is 誰(だれ)

Also, I would advise against referring to people using kore/sore/are. They are typically used for inanimate objects. You'll want to use kono hito/sono hito/ano hito, or if you're feeling polite, replace hito 人 with kata


This needs to be in the official tips for this lesson. It would have made things so much clearer.


あれ is for things far away from both you and the person you're talking to

それ is for things far from you but closer to the one you are speaking to


I've learned that こ is for things close to the speaker (これ=this here), そ is for things close to the listener (それ=that thing close to you) while あ is used for things that are in neither person's proximity (あれ=that thing waay over there)

Is this correct?

EDIT or I could just read the repy directly underneath, yes that's correct Imma take my 2 cents and leave


A more accurate translation would be "that over there."


No, "that over there" isn't necessarily more correct. It's just more intuitive for English speakers.


doesnt "kore" mean for closer things and "sore" for more far off thing? someone told me this in the discus.


What shefk said! これ, それ, and あれ are used to refer to something close to the speaker, something close to the person they are speaking to, and something elsewhere, respectively. Sort of along the lines of "this," "that," and "that over there."


This is one example of KSAD packs in Japanese! There's a ton of simple prepositions that follow such a pattern, location for example: ここ - Here そこ - There あそこ - Over there どこ - Where?

The pattern in this question is for nouns, and is rounded out by どれ - Which thing?

Hope this helps!


What is KSAD?


In his example, Koko, Soko, Asoko, and Doko (KSAD). Must be a pattern various things follow.


So would the complete set be: これ この ここ それ その そこ あれ おの おそこ どれ どの どこ


This is by no means a complete set, but most of the common sets would be:


  • これ - this thing
  • この - this (thing)
  • ここ - here
  • こちら - this person/this direction
  • こんな - this kind of


  • それ - that thing
  • その - that (thing)
  • そこ - there
  • そちら - that person/that direction
  • そんな - that kind of


  • あれ - that thing (over there)
  • あの - that (thing over there)
  • あそこ - (over) there
  • あちら - that person/that direction (over there)
  • あんな - that kind of


  • どれ - which thing
  • どの - which (thing)
  • どこ - where
  • どちら - which person/which direction
  • どんな - what kind of

Also, be careful with あ ("a") and お ("o") ;)


holy cow, this is the most helpful thing I've seen. I believe the customary token of appreciation is a lingot


JoshuaLore9 Thanks so much! This is a great guide! I've seen you leaving lots of helpful comments for a while now. Have a Lingot.


Hiw abou "when" and "how"? Could yoy translate that in the same manner?


Making notes of your reply! So helpful!


If you are a Spanish speaker, these are analogous to aquí, allí, and allá. Helps me remember.


In this case I'd say it's closer to "esto", "eso" and "aquello".


これ esto それ eso あれaquello ここ aqui そこ ahi あそこacuya, bromeo, alli


For Scottish gaelic the equivalents would be seo, sin and siud


Not quite analogous since Kore is close to the speaker, and sore is close to the listener. Aqua allí allá all indicate levels of distance from the speaker.


あれ means that (away from both/all parties), それ means that (close to the person being spoken to), and これ means this (which is close to the speaker).


All these questions, like Are wa nan desu ka? (Sorry for the romanji, I haven't figured out the Japanese keyboard).Would that be something you ask to the waiter about what is on the menu?


Since the the menu is close to you or in your hands, wouldn't you ask the waiter これは何ですか? Or if you're pointing a menu behind the cashier's head like at fast food restaurants, perhaps それは何ですか? but with more clarification about what you want to know about? I figured あれは何ですか? was reserved for some distant object, but at a restaurant, the menu would be present in some way close to the waiter/staff or the diner? Somebody help . . .


Yeah, you're pretty close. This would be my example for illustrating the differences:

You're at a fancy restaurant, with a food menu in your hand. The waiter comes up to you holding the wine list and asks if you're ready to order.

  • これ: You're not sure about one of the food items (you know how fancy restaurants are, with their pretentious names for completely normal food... >_>), so you point to it on the menu in your hand and say これは何ですか?The waiter replies それはですね、我々の特製イカ墨入りのオムレツです。
  • それ: You end up ordering a steak, because you're boring and don't like to try weird foods like squid ink omelettes, and ask the waiter to recommend a wine to go with it. The waiter points to one of the red wines on the list and says これはどうですか?You're a bit of a wine connoisseur, so you want to know more about it and ask へぇ、それは何ですか?
  • あれ: You notice there is a sign board over by the entrance on the far side of the restaurant which says something like "Chef's special soup of the day: ask your waiter", so you point to it and ask the waiter あれは何ですか?The waiter replies あれはですね、今日はクリーミーカボチャポタージュです。

Note how the pronoun changes (sometimes) depending on who is speaking and their spatial relationship to the object. あれ doesn't change because by definition, it refers to something that is far away from both parties.

Also, to answer @BazTheLinuxGuy's question, you would use the これ/それ/あれ pronouns whenever you don't know what to call a thing (e.g. like a generic "this/that thing") or it's clear what thing you're talking about from the context of the sentence (e.g. pointing to something or responding about a specific thing). They're pronouns, so they get used in place of other things. Whenever the waiter replied to you, they could have said お客様が示したものは... ("the thing the customer has pointed to is ...") instead of これ/それ/あれ は..., but it's much more natural to just say "this/that".

<pre>Kore is for "this", something that is in your hand or you are touching, exactly like in english. [Kore wa .....(This....) Close to you and not that close to the other speaker. Sore is for that, something close to you but that you can/ can t touch, it is not in your hands. It is at the same distance from you and the other speaker Are is simillar with Sore, yes, bcz the thing that we are talking about is not close to us like when we use Kore. But here it's like "that thing over there" something far away from both you and the other speaker. </pre>


Why is 何 pronounced なに when i tap on the character but in the full sentence it has a different pronounciation?


The kanji 何 has three possible readings, カ, なん, and なに. When on its own, it is typically pronounced なに, but primarily, I think, because of the hard "d" sound following, the なん reading is used.


For anyone confused, I learned ko, so, a, do. Ko- close enough to touch for speaker. So- close enough to touch for listener. A- far from speaker and listener. Do- a question Practice chanting that with gestures. ko (point in front of you) so (point across the room) a (point at the horizon) do (shrug as if asking a question) I hope this helps! ~♡


I'm a bit confused as to why "NANI" is included. Does the phrase mean "what" on its own or only when followed by "DESU KA"?


Yes, 何 on its own means "what". Actually, in casual speech, 「あれは何?」 is an acceptable way to say "What is that?"

However, the role of です is, as always, to connect the object, in this case "what", to the subject, in this case "that". If you don't include 何, there is nothing for です to connect.

Of course, か is necessary to turn "That is what" into a proper question "What is that?"


です is just politer. You can leave it out if you're talking to friends and it won't change the meaning at all.


i put "why that one?" instead of what's that one, and got it wrong, whats the difference here?


"Why" and "what" are fundamentally different questions. "Why that one?" is asking for a reason for choosing it, whereas "What's that one?" is asking for identification of it.

Likewise, the Japanese for "why" 「なんで」/「なぜ」 and "what" 「なに」 are different words and are used differently.


Ah, actually, now that I wrote that second part out, I think I understand where you're getting mixed up.

Let's write out the exercise sentence just in hiragana:

あれ は なん です か

Note how I've separated the words. If you read なんで as the word for "why", here's how it would look:

あれ は なんで す か

You're left with a weird すか at the end. So to keep the sentence making sense, it has to be なん, or "what is that"


I am confused to, but the reason is, that in Doulingo when you click on 'nani' (何) it gives you two translations, being 'what' and 'why'. Is that simply a mistake on duo's side?


Ahh, right. I see what you mean. My apologies, I didn't click on the character to check what it means f(^_^;

It's not exactly a mistake, but it's an unfortunate result of the way Duo gives us information about phrases. When you click on 何, it gives you the translation of the whole phrase, 何ですか as "what", and of the kanji itself, 何 as "what".

However, contained within the phrase 何ですか is also 何で which means "why", so when you click 何, Duo recognizes those three possible meanings.

You'll notice the placement of "what", "why" and "what" is staggered to be beneath the center of 何ですか、何で and 何, respectively.


Ok so I have read in other thread, about using は (ねこはあかいです) when describing something, and を when is an action. (それをくださ) Here isn't any of those cases. The "topic marker" is above all here? Why? Someone can explain more about the uses of はand を。ありがとう。


は is the topic marker. When you see it think of it as "on the topic of...x"
Technically in this sentence you are describing something. You are describing あれ, or more specifically, asking for a description of あれ.

あれ - "That" (thing over there)
は - Topic particle (On the topic of that (thing over there)
何 - what
です - Copula/verb functions as "To be/is/am/are"
か - Question particle "?"
So "On the topic of that thing over there - What is it?"
Simplified to "What is that?"


"What are those?" ... not accepted.


So would this be used to identify some unknown object like, "what is that (over there)?" Or like say if two people are speaking to each other and one person says "i need to tell you something" vaguely. Would it be appropriate to respond with "Are ha nani desuka?"


It would be used to identity some unknown object which is far away from both the speaker and the listener.

But if someone said to you "I need to tell you something", I'm guess the thing they want to tell you is inside their head (i.e. close to the listener for you), so you would say それ instead of あれ.

Also, あれは何ですか is pronounced are wa nan desu ka, not ha and nani as you have in your question ;)


The correct answer uses は (ha) for わ (wa). What's up with that?


は is pronounced "wa" when it is being used as a topic marker and "ha" when it is part of a word. わ is only used as a part of a word for "wa".
When you see it think of it as "on the topic of...x", so in this sentence "あれ" "that" is the topic. "On the topic of that (thing) - what is it?"

When the writing system was reformed the sounds of many kana were changed and standardized. Before the reform each kana could have multiple readings depending on the situation and it was a complete mess to understand.
Originally pronounced 'pa' and 'fa' it then turned into a 'wa' sound when at the end of a word. It was decided that the particle は was not a word itself and became a part of the word it followed so it always took the "wa" pronunciation. Then when the H, W and vowel kana were combined and rearranged, the は took on a new "ha" pronunciation. Since this kana was already very common as grammar particle "wa" though, rather than change the pronunciation or the particle kana entirely and have to re-educate a population to read and write, they simply kept both readings. Similarly the kana を originally "wo" is "o" as an object particle and へ "he" is "e" as a direction particle.


I thought this chapter was about food...


Ooh, what a lovely array of Sushi!! I haven't seen that type of sushi before "WHAT IS THAT"


これ- This (near speaker) それ- That (near listener) あれ- That over there (away from both speaker and listener) *Correct me if I am wrong, but this is something we learned in my three years of Japanese class. I hope it isn't!


When they put tooth as in subject, I'm thinking its supposed to mean what do you want to eat?


No, unfortunately you can't be that loose with the interpretation. です is the copula, or roughly equivalent to "is"/"am" in English, hence "what is that?" If you want to change the verb to "eat", you must use the Japanese verb 食べる(たべる)which means "to eat".

There are a number of other grammatical points you're glossing over. To say "What do you want to eat?", you'll need more advance grammar structures than what we've learned so far.

Furthermore, the は "as in subject", as you say, is a particle, pronounced as wa even though it is written ha, which tells us that the noun or phrase before it is the subject. It doesn't mean "tooth" at all; "tooth" would be written as 歯 and pronounced ha.


Remind me, what does 何 do in this sentence?


Tap or click on the character and the hints will tell you. Or read a few of the other comments. They'll tell you that 何 is the question word meaning "what".


Question... So when people reply "あれは" ..(or they might say "おれは" [i cant remember which one I've heard])..

..is that like replying..

" yea.. about that.." or "what's that?"


It would be あれは (おれは would mean "as for me..." though this is rather rough and masculine), and it would be like replying "yeah... about that..." (depending on your tone).


Why is the format, that what is?


That's just how Japanese sentence structure works. Meanwhile, Japanese speakers be like なんで「何 です あれ」って言うのが正しいですか? (or "why is「what is that」correct?")


Do you actually use that language in shops, saying sore nan desu ka? Or do you say more complex stuff like I would like to know what this is...


Can someone tell me, why it's "nani" in the selection but the voice over drops the "i" part? I've noticed it on other lessons also.


Why he used は insted of を


There is no transitive verb in this sentence to take a direct object so を can't be used.
Only the copula です, which marks a state of being.


Hello! So could we use here "ga" instead of "wa"? Thank you!


What I did for remembering the difference between これ(kore), それ(sore), どれ(dore), and あれ(are) was this

それ(sore) That( Next to you)/ Saying: “So what are you showing me?”

あれ(are) That( Over there)/Saying: “Are you not seeing Jesus over there?”

これ(kore) This( Next to the speaker)/ Saying: “Come over here look at this/ kome over here look at this!”

どれ(dore) Which one/Saying:”Do you want one? Ok then which one?” I hope this was helpful to someone god bless in Jesus holy name I pray amen!


あれは何ですか? 水です。 あ, あれとそれがください。

I love this language!


So if deska is always a question why or do but a question mark at the end?


That's more a stylistic choice to indicate the rise in intonation of a question, especially in more casual writing where か is usually dropped and questions are indicated by intonation instead. It isn't required though and Duo doesn't even grade most punctuation.
In more formal writing the question mark wouldn't normally be used.


Is there mant ways to say what other than 何?


Translating this to "what is that one over there?" Should be accepted as "are" is translated as that over there by definition.


can someone please explaine what's the actual difference between "this" and "that" in english? i'm not a native speaker and i feel really stupid


"this" is for something near the speaker. If you are holding something or close to something you would say "This thing" to point the listeners attention towards your direction. This is これ in Japanese. Think "ThIs" with the "i" being "I, me, myself". You are pulling attention into you.

"That" is for something far from the speaker. You would use "that" while maybe pointing your finger at something to point the listener away from you. In English we use "that" both for things near the listener "that thing that you are holding" as well as for things that are far from both the speaker and listener "That thing over there across the street". Japanese uses two separate words それ for things near the listener and あれ for things far from both people.
"ThAt" pushes attention "Away" from you

[deactivated user]

    あれ - That(far) は - topic indicator 何 - What です - is か - question indicator Are wa nani desu ka?


    "That(far)" is inaccurate and misleading.

    • これ refers to something near the speaker
    • それ refers to something near the listener
    • あれ refers to something far from both the speaker and the listener

    When the object is far from the speaker, it can be それ or あれ; it's the distance from the listener that matters.

    Also, 何ですか is pronounced "nan desu ka"


    memorize these dore: where? kore: this (close to you, and you can touch it) sore: that (close to you but you can't touch) are: that over there (definitely not close to you and cannot touch)


    I'm afraid you've memorized incorrect information.

    • どれ = "which?", not "where?"
    • これ refers to something near the speaker
    • それ refers to something near the listener
    • あれ refers to something far from both the speaker and the listener

    In all of these cases, "near" generally means "within arms' reach".


    thanks for the simple breakdown!

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