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  5. "それは何ですか?"


Translation:What is that?

June 8, 2017



これ Kore=This, in front of me それ Sore=that, Next to you あれ Are=That, over there


And どれ (dore) = "which?" for a thing in an unknown location. These together are the "ko-so-a-do" system of demonstratives. The same pattern applies to 〜こ (here/there/where), and 〜の (ex: この is short for これの and is used to say "this ___" while referring to a specific object), and ko-so-a-do can be used in a few other cases as well.


For the ones familiarized with Portuguese and Spanish: Kore=Este || Sore=Esse/Ese || Are=aquel/aquele.


And if you're familiar with English... wait a minute...


Yeah, we don't quite have an あれ equivalent. But as my spanish teacher tought us for aquel, don't think of it as "that one", think of it as "that one, way over there".


What about yonder?


For anyone who is familiar with Tubu. ( which I'm pretty sure no one is over here) これ: À それ: To あれ: Buto


If you're familiarised with Catalan: kore: aquest, sore: aqueix/eixe, are: aquell.


If there's anyone here who knows Korean!!! これ=이거 それ=그거 あれ=저거


For anyone who speaks Malay, これ → sini すれ → situ あれ → sana


In Filipino: /Kore=Ito/ /Sore=Iyan/ /Are=Iyon/


Italian: これ: questo それ: codesto (almost never used nowadays in informal speech) あれ: quello


What's the difference between:それ and あれ?


こ= Close to the speaker. そ= Close to the listener. あ= Distant from both the speaker and listener. ど=Interrogative.

ここ=Here それ=That あんな=That (sort of (thing)) どれ=Which


それ is used to refer to objects closer to the subject, whereas あれ is used for objects farther away


The same distinction applies to koko/soko/asoko, kono/sono/ano, kore/sore/are, where 'so-' refers to 'there, by you' and 'a-' refers to 'there distant from both you and me'.


What is the difference between 'this' and 'it'? I don't know why 'this' is wrong answer?


Actually, I think the best translation for this sentence should be "what is that?"

それ refers to something which is near the listener, so "this" is not a valid translation. "This" refers to something which is near the speaker, and Japanese has a different word for this (これ).

"It" is valid because it's so general; "it" could be referring to something random, which just so happens to be near the listener, but that proximity isn't relevant/emphasized.


Remember the kosoado words!

Ko- = near the speaker So- = near the listener A- = far from both the reader and speaker Do- = a question


What role does 何 play in this sentence?


何 is "nani" which is contracted to "nan" before a "d" sound. So the full sentence reads "Sore wa nan desu ka ?" The meaning of 何 is "what".

Sore is “that which is close to you” or “that thing which is close to you” as a noun, distinct from “sono” which is a relative adjective and requires a noun eg “sono neko” - “that cat near you” “That thing which is not near you or me” is “Are”あれ

So the complete literal translation is: "That thing which is close to you, what is it?"


Japanese is rather like an open-ended Yoda language. The structure of grammar is subject-object-verb, instead of English's subject-verb-object.

Instead of saying "The cat eats mice", they say "The cat mice eats."

This turns the full question in this particular lesson from "What is that?" to "That thing which is close to you, it is.....?" Basically asking the other person to fill in the blank. It explains why a lot of Japanese answers are very simple words or phrases. "Betsuni" = "nothing", or "This? Pencil it is." or "Plush toy, is."

If they're interested, of course they'll tell you more. If not, that's usually all they say, and then leave you with a weird stare or muttered "idiot".

It's also why I love Japanese. They can fit whole subtleties into one small phrase, but then other concepts take whole sentences to describe. :-)


Japan is not the only country that follows 'S+O+V' structure; Nepal is another country that uses the same structure for sentences as well. Even the question structure is similar; However, subject is not omitted here. Fun fact - most of the Nepal vocabularies are originated or are taken from Indian vocabulary (not to mention Nepal also modified them),so , person fluent or learning Indian language can manage to learn Nepali language in no time.


I understood the rest, I just didn't know what 何 meant. Though, I feel like I've seen other words for "what" than 何. Are there other words? And if so, which ones do you use when.


I just threw "what" into Google translate and it came up with a bunch of variants on 何 and also どんな "donna". どんな is much better translated as "what kind of" if I recall correctly.
Also どんなもの - what kind of physical thing? and どんなこと- what kind of abstract thing? As usual, donna has its friends konna, sonna and anna https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/381eug/how_do_i_use_konna_sonna_anna/


Does the Japanese language use "?", as Duolingo is?


Yes, for the most part, I think. In more formal writing, such as correspondence with a client or a professor, I think using ? tends to be avoided, but there's nothing wrong with it.

Also, since many particles, including か, are dropped in casual speech, ?is used when texting friends to indicate the upward inflection of a question, e.g. 「今日(きょう)、暇(ひま)?」 = "Are you free today?" (Lit. "Today, free?")


Are you saying that they can text using pitch accent? That's pretty funny


I wouldn't go so far as to say you can convey pitch accent. Pitch accent helps differentiate between words like 橋 ("bridge") and 箸 ("chopsticks"), which are both pronounced はし when you can't see the kanji during speech; this is obviously not a problem when texting, so Japanese people would just use the appropriate kanji.

But, yeah, Japanese text communication is pretty cool, especially in casual situations. After all, they did invent emoji (絵文字【えもじ】, lit. "picture character") and popularize emoticons (known as 顔文字【 かおもじ】, lit. "face character").


It says "wa", but I see a "ha"...


That's correct. When は is used as the topic/subject particle, it is pronounced wa.


「あれは何ですか?」 would be 'What is that over there?' right? and「は」would be marking the object that is not in reach of the speaker, but 'over there'?


Aww, so close! 「あれは何ですか?」 does indeed mean "what is that over there (out of your reach)?" but the information about the object being out of reach of the speaker and the listener is all contained in あれ.

は just marks out the topic/subject of the sentence.


So I assume this is the polite way to say this? I have heard it said before as "Nani sore" or "What is this" as "Nani kare".


Yes, this is the polite, and grammatically correct, way to say this. 何それ and 何れ (not kare) are colloquialisms.


For the germans here:

これ - Dieses hier (bei mir) それ - Dieses dort (bei dir) あれ - Jenes dort (weder bei dir, noch bei mir) どれ - Welches?


Why in a sentence does 'Nani' Just pernounced as 'Nan' Like 'Are wa NAN desu ka? please answer -----


Like ます , we say "mas" if it's at the end of the sentence and "masu" if there is something after it (sometimes). There are exceptions.


I'm wondering why the 何 sounds diffrent, i can only hear な and no に


何 character is nani but nan- when added to another word. So you're hearing nandesuka which is one word of multiple characters. Ex: 何ですか? Nandesuka? What is it? 何? Nani? What?


how can to differ the use of wa and wo?


By wa, I'm assuming you mean the particle は, in which case it denotes the topic and often the subject of the sentence. That is to say, the noun or phrase before は is what the rest of the sentence is talking about (topic), and/or what is doing the verb (subject).

On the other hand, を is the object particle. That means the noun or phrase before を is what the verb is being done to.

An example:

子犬は水を飲みます。(こいぬは みずを のみます)

子犬 is the topic and the subject in this case, marked by は. 子犬 means "puppy" by the way.

飲みます is of course the verb, since it comes at the end of the sentence. It means "to drink".

水 is the object, marked by を. As we learn in this lesson, 水 is water.

So, putting all three together, you have the puppy which does the verb "to drink" to the object, "water". As a whole, the sentence can be translated to "The puppy drinks water."


May i ask what app or site did/do you use for learing japanese?


I'm afraid I don't have a very good answer for you. It's a long-winded one, and probably not that helpful at all.

I'll put it as a reply to this comment, so people can downvote the long version.

The short version is no specific app/site. I just broke down and analyzed whatever Japanese I could get my hands on.


The long version is a bit all over the place, but here goes:

The "site" I used to get the most improvement is called Sapporo City, Japan. I lived there for two years f(^_^;

Being an assistant language teacher over there, it was very enlightening to watch how they approached English. Grammar was everything, and I got to learn a lot of basic grammar patterns helping my students map Japanese grammar onto English sentences.

Meeting my partner there, who is a Japanese native, was also really motivating and I learned a lot from her, mostly by bugging her with a lot of questions about the minutiae of the nuance behind different word/phrase usage.

Immersion was really helpful, but I went over armed with some basics. Over the few years before I ever thought of going to live in Japan, I memorized hiragana and katakana, simply by writing them over and over again; I kind of cheated when it came to kanji, since I had studied Chinese since primary school (I didn't enjoy it, so I can't speak Chinese at all now, but it certainly made kanji less daunting); I found various websites explaining the rules for verb conjugation; I figured out the basic sentence structure rules by analyzing song lyrics for J-pop and J-rock songs, comparing the Japanese lyrics with translations people put up online (every now and then when I felt confident, I'd try and translate it myself before checking translations online).

While I was in Japan, my study became a bit more formal though. Many of my fellow native English-speaking teachers recommended the textbooks from [Mina no Nihongo] or the [Genki] books, but I kept plodding along with grammar, and picked up a grammar guide (kind of an index of grammar patterns with examples and very brief explanations of meaning and usage) for the JLPT exams, which I managed to pass after a year and a half of living in Japan. My vocabulary study relied on my dictionary app (Japanese-English Dictionary, or JED, for Android), things I heard in my everyday surroundings, and conversations with my partner and other Japanese friends.


I understood that no question mark was necessary in Japanese -- the か itself being indicative of a question. Any comments?


Yes, two other comments addressing this were already up at time of writing, one of them being my own. I've copied the relevant part:

In more formal writing, such as correspondence with a client or a professor, I think using ? tends to be avoided, but there's nothing wrong with it.

Also, since many particles, including か, are dropped in casual speech, ?is used when texting friends to indicate the upward inflection of a question, e.g. 「今日(きょう)、暇(ひま)?」 = "Are you free today?" (Lit. "Today, free?")


I put what is this and it was WRONG and if I put that CORRECT. This not have sense


English isn't your first language, is it? "This" and "that" are used differently in English, as are the Japanese words これ, それ, and あれ.

"This" refers to something close to the speaker, which is the same as これ.

"That" refers to something far away from the speaker, which is the same as それ (if it is close to the listener) or あれ (if it is far away from the listener too).


It sounds like "nani" is pronounced "nan" is it wrong to pronounce it "nani" before desu?


Yes, it's incorrect. 何ですか is always pronounced "nan desu ka".

The character 何, just like the vast majority of kanji, has a couple of different pronunciations (also called "readings") and only one is ever correct in a given sentence.


If there is multiple listeners, would you always say あれ Instead of それ?

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No, not necessarily. It doesn't matter how many listeners. Use "So-Re" when the "that" is close to (at least one of) the listeners to whom you speak, and use "A-Re" when "that" is away from all of you.


Would there be any difference in meaning between "それは何ですか" and "それが何ですか"?


"それが何ですか?" would translate to something like "So, what?" or "Why does that matter?" or "And? What about it?". That form is used defensively while the は form simply just asks what something is.

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