This and That... and You Japanese Lesson
One more lesson to beef up your vocabulary a bit before we get into more grammatical fun.
This, That, and The Other Thing
You already know "this" ("kore"), and "that" is similar: "sore". But in Japanese, there's a third word, "are", which means basically "that over there". They work this way:
"kore" = something near the person talking
"sore" = something near the person being talked to
"are" = something that's not near anybody
Here are a few examples:
"Kore wa pisutoru desu." ("This is a pistol.")
"Sore wa bakudan desu!" ("That is a bomb!")
"Are wa hikooki desu." ("That over there is a plane.")
In the first sentence, the person is talking about something that they're holding. In the second one, the person they're talking to is either holding a bomb or standing near one. In the third sentence, the plane ("hikooki"--handy word if you travel) isn't near either person in the conversation. In regular conversations, "sore" and "are" are a bit more flexible than that, but it's better to remember it correctly.
It's possible you're wondering about "which" at this point; the answer is "dore", but since you don't know how to ask questions yet (unless you've been studying elsewhere), we'll save that for next time.
Ko-So-A-Do, A Deer, A Female Deer...
You might have noticed a bit of a pattern with these words--they all end in "re". This is very handy, because there are several other sets of words in Japanese that use the same pattern--that is, they have a "ko-something", "so-something", "a-something", and "do-something". These are sometimes cleverly called "kosoado kotoba" ("kotoba" means "word").
For now, to keep your head from exploding, we'll only look at one more set. These will be your very first set of adjectives, which all end in "no":
"kono katana" ("this katana")
"sono terebi" ("that TV")
"ano hito" ("that person over there")
"dono bakudan" ("which bomb")
They all work just like the same words in English; you just stick them before any noun, and then, instead of talking about just any old object, you can identify one in particular. Very handy for pointing out something if there are many similar ones nearby. For example, compare these two sentences:
"Terebi desu." ("It's a TV.")
"Kono terebi desu." ("This TV.")
We'll learn some questions that will make these words very handy in the next lesson.
This and This
You might be getting confused by the difference between "kono" and "kore", since they both seem to mean "this". They do; in English, "kore" and "kono" are both written "this", but even in English they're two different this-es.
The important thing to remember is that "kore" is a noun; that is, you can use it for the subject of a sentence. "This is something."--that "this" is "kore". "Kono", however, is an adjective; you use it to modify a noun. "This car is wicked cool."--that "this" is "kono". Get it? More confused now than before? If so, forget you ever read this ("kono") paragraph.
Now that you've got lots of thises floating around in your head, we'll look at one more word for the day: "you". Sadly, just like with "I", Japanese has more than one version of "you". The basic, textbook "you" is "anata". That is simple, polite, and works well for most situations, but there are lots and lots of others. Here are some of the more common ones:
"Anta" (a short version of "anata"; not polite at all)
"Omae" (informal, can be used between close friends)
"Temee" (rude, and generally insulting)
"Kisama" (rude, and even more insulting)
Be very careful about what word for "you" you use; anything other than "anata" is best avoided until you know what you're doing. The reason? This might seem odd, but in Japanese instead of using creative insults like we're fond of in English (loser, slush-for-brains, nerfherder, putz, etc) you basically just use an impolite word for "you". So the next time you hear some angry guy say "Temee!" to his nemesis, even though the subtitles will probably say something like "You bastard!", all he really said was "You!"
There, you've learned your first insult. A bit disappointing, isn't it? If you want good insults, I've heard that Chinese is a worthwhile language.
Just in case you're not confused enough at this point, I'll add one other note. Several of these words can have different connotations depending on how they're used. For example, "anata" is common, but it is also used by married couples to refer to each other, something like "Honey" or "Sweetcakes" in English. Similarly, "omae" can be used by two guys who are close friends talking to each other, but if you say it to a stranger it's pretty insulting (and can even be used as a milder insult than "Temee" or "Kisama").
Basically, though, sticking to "anata" is good enough for now.
Ok, having said all that about "you", now I'm going to tell you not to use the word at all if you can avoid it. Huh?
Hey, you can't expect everything to be the same. In Japanese, people just don't use words for "you" all that frequently in a conversation--it's basically the same as with "watashi". In the place of a "you" word, they'll usually either leave it out entirely if it's the subject (get used to that, it's not going to go away), or use the person's first name. (They might also use a title or something like that, but we'll save that for later.) This is actually a bit easier than English, but it takes getting used to. Compare these examples:
"Kore wa anata no ken desu." ("That is your sword.")
"Kore wa Bobu no ken desu." ("This is your sword.")
"Kore wa Bobu no ken desu." ("This is Bob's sword.")
In case you didn't know, "ken" is a general word for a sword, as well as a name. See how the last two of these sentences are exactly the same, but can have different English translations? In the middle one, you would be talking directly to Bob--you can think of it like saying "This is your sword, Bob." In the bottom one, you would be talking to somebody other than Bob, explaining that the sword belongs to him.
Bottom line #1: Unlike English, if you use a person's name in a sentence instead of "you", you can still be talking to them, and it won't sound like you're ignoring them. Go ahead and say "This is Bob's sword." to his face, it works.
Bottom line #2: If you know a person's name, you should avoid saying "you" at all.
Putting It All Together
Remember your useful nouns for this and that:
"kore" = "this"
"sore" = "that"
"are" = "that over there"
"dore" = "which"
And equally handy adjectives for this and that:
"Kono [something]" ("This [something]")
"Sono [something]" ("That [something]")
"Ano [something]" ("That [something] [over there]")
"Dono [something]" ("Which [something]")
And a couple of ways to say "you" (including just using a person's name):
"Anata wa [something] desu" ("You are [something].")
"[Name] wa [something] desu" ("You are [something]." --if you're talking to Name.)
Let's combine several of the things from this and past lessons into one cool sentence:
"Kono bakudan wa anata no mono desu."
Remember that "bakudan" means bomb? What do we have with all this put together? How about: "This bomb is yours." One more:
"Onizuka wa kono gakkou no sensei desu."
That's a bit trickier, so if you can't get it immediately, try breaking it down. Since "gakkou" means "school", and you probably already know that "sensei" means "teacher", it comes together like this: We're talking about Onizuka (the Great Teacher, if you're not familiar with him), and he is "kono gakkou no sensei". "Kono gakkou" is... "this school", so that becomes "this school's teacher". It sounds better in English as "teacher at this school", so the whole sentence means: "Onizuka is a teacher at this school."
And, in closing, a selection of sentences using our words of the day:
- "Anata wa baka desu." ("You are an idiot.")
- "Omae wa hentai da!" ("You're a pervert!")
- "Sore wa boku no mono desu." ("That belongs to me.")
- "Are wa Oni desu." ("That over there is an Ogre.")
- "Ano uchuusen wa boku no mono desu." ("That spaceship over there belongs to me.")
- "Sono kami wa okane desu." ("That paper is money.")
- "Watashi wa Ruuku no chichi desu." ("I am your father, Luke.")
- "Omae wa mou shinde iru." ("You're already dead.")
The first one is a nice simple insult. The second one uses "omae" for a bit of added force, and "hentai" is an ever-popular word for "pervert". You'll notice in number two that "desu" is replaced with "da"; "da" is a very common informal version of "desu", which we'll get into in detail later. Had this sentence used "desu" it would have been awkward, since you wouldn't generally combine a polite verb with a not-so-polite word for "you".
In number four, you'll see "are" (remember, that's pronounced "ah-re", not "R"), so the subject (an "Oni", the ogres of Japanese folklore and alien invaders of Urusei Yatsura) isn't near the speaker or the person they're talking to. Also, just like English, you don't usually use "thing" words about people, but since Oni are monsters "are" works.
Numbers five and six are relatively self explanatory; in five, the space ship isn't near anybody in the conversation so you get "are". In six, "okane" means "money" and "kami" means "paper", but the structure is similar. Incidentally, "kami" can also mean "god", but hopefully the context makes it easy enough to tell the two apart.
In number seven, "chichi" is a word for "father" (there is more than one in Japanese; "chichi" is the one used by a person talking about themselves). And although it's not clear from the sentence whether it's directed at Luke or not, the translation given assumes that it is. And before your imagination goes wild, this isn't Vader's line, even if the translation looks like it--it's much too polite for the Dark Lord of the Sith.
The final sentence involves a bunch of words (including new verbs--next chapter!) that you don't recognize, but it is the classic quote from the ever-popular Fist of the North Star ("Hokutou no Ken", originally), and it also uses "omae". You'll have to fill in the exploding head effect from your own imagination.
And that concludes Lesson 2. In the first part of Lesson 3, we'll start learning how to ask questions, and later get into some new, improved verbs. Cool.