4.2 Demonstrative Pronouns: これ (kore), それ (sore), あれ (are) and どれ (dore)

Demonstrative pronouns are useful because they enable you to effortlessly refer to and discuss different objects or things, even if you are unaware of their names. Let’s delve deeper into these pronouns, with a particular focus on これ (kore), それ (sore), あれ (are) and どれ (dore).

What are demonstrative pronouns?

When encountering an object whose name you don’t know, you can use the demonstrative pronouns これ (kore: this [one]), それ (sore: that [one]), あれ (are: that [one over there]) and どれ (dore: which [one]). Please use these demonstrative pronouns to indicate objects only, as it can come across as impolite if used to refer to people! For further details, refer to the final section of this module and Module 3.0.


Now, let’s watch a video created by Shiro Neko Japanese, which explains the first three demonstrative pronouns – これ, それ and あれ – in a Japanese restaurant setting and how they can be incorporated into sentences.

You can watch the first part of the video, which ends at around 3:20. If you are interested in the usage of demonstrative nouns in sentences, the second part of the video includes a quick reading exercise for additional practice.



Here is a summary of the demonstrative pronouns:

  • これ is used to refer to something that is close to the speaker.
  • それ is used to refer to something that is close to the listener.
  • あれ is used to refer to something that is far away from both the speaker and the listener.


All the demonstrative pronouns are types of nouns. So, you can use them in the position of X in the following sentence patterns we have learned:

これ それ あれ
XはYです。 これはYです。 それはYです。 あれはYです。
This is Y. That is Y. That [one] over there is Y.
XはYですか。 これはYですか。 それはYですか。 あれはYですか。
Is this Y? Is that Y? It that [one over there] Y?


Finally, we have a demonstrative pronoun that is used in questions: ‘どれ’ (dore). It is used to ask which one out of a group of things.

どれ is not only a demonstrative pronoun but also a question word that means ‘which’ or ‘which one’. For example, you can use it in the following sentence pattern to ask about a specific item or choice:


X wa dore desuka.

Which (one) is X?


For example, if there are multiple remote controls – リモート・コントロール(りもおと・こんとろおる)or リモコン(りもこん)for short – and you want to know which one is the remote control for the TV, you could ask:

TV Remote Control
Figure 1: TV Remote Control




Terebi no rimokon wa dore desu ka.

Which one is the TV remote control?


Exercise 1

Try to say each sentence in Japanese. You can listen to the example sentence in Japanese by clicking the audio icon on the card.

What should I do when I want to refer to people with demonstrative nouns?

To refer to people with demonstrative nouns in Japanese politely, use こちら (kochira), そちら (sochira), あちら (achira) and どちら (dochira) instead of これ, それ, あれ and どれ. These forms are more respectful and appropriate for formal situations.


For example to say ‘This is my teacher’ politely, you would say:


Kochira wa watashi no sensei desu.

This construction respectfully indicates the person you are introducing.

For your reference, these demonstrative pronouns, こちら, そちら, あちら and どちら, are also used to refer to places with politeness, such as ‘here’, ‘there’, ‘over there’ and ‘where’. In the meanwhile, it’s sufficient to know that これ, それ, あれ and どれ should be used only to refer to objects, not people, to maintain politeness.





1 “TV Remote Control” (untitled) by Karolina Grabowska. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.


Figures – Exercise

1 Exclamation IconExclamation Sign Icon” (untitled) by Dave Gandy. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by SA 3.0.

2 “A Slice of Cake with Raspberry Topping” (untitled) by Olena Bohovyk. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

3 “Creme Caramel Dessert” (untitled) by Max Griss. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

4 “A Wooden Coffee Stall” (untitled) by Eva Bronzini. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

5 “Hot Water Pouring on a Coffee Maker” (untitled) by Cup of Couple. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.



Shiro Neko Japanese. “Japanese [#2-1] [GENKI L2] – これ(kore)、それ(sore)、あれ(are) – This and That – What is This? YouTube video, 10:36. November 22, 2020. https://youtu.be/mYbkJVYyWpg?si=m1ofDXOoAitPbbdz.



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Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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