Gengo Girls #13: Go Long

Gengo Girls #13: Go Long

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In my experience the shortest words in a language are almost always the most complicated. For some English examples, consider the crazy conjugations of “to be” (am, are, is, was, were) or the many different meanings of common words like run (run away, run a business, run a program, a run of bad luck) or set (set down, set up, set a date, matching set). On the other hand big words like “defenestrate” are usually easy to conjugate and only have one or two specific meanings.


あれ = faraway that (noun)

あの = faraway that (adjective)


言語ガールズ #13

Go Long

Blue: 日本語doesn’t just have words for “this” and “that”, but also has a third word that means “that faraway thing”.

Blue: As a noun this word is あれ and as an adjective it is あの.

Yellow: So how do I know which “that” to use?

Blue: You use それ and そのwhen things are far from you but close to your listener and use あれ and あの when talking about things far away from both of you.

Blue: But it’s not just about physical distance! Familiarity is important too.

Blue: I might use あれto point out an unfamiliar book but use それwhen talking about a book I have already read.

Blue: It seems complicated, but just remember that それ, その, あれ and あの all mean “that”. The difference between them will become more obvious the more 日本語 you listen to and read.

Yellow: All these full panel lectures didn’t leave any room for a punchline!