Lesson 5
Japanese Nouns:
Using Kono, Sono, Ano & Dono

Welcome to lesson 5, Japanese nouns. Here we'll take a look at some simple noun phrases that new learners of Japanese sometimes have trouble with. There's a test at the end of the page. Try it out!!!

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If you look at the noun chart above, you’ll notice something strange. Both ‘kono’ and ‘kore’ have the same meaning in English. So if ‘kono’ means ‘this’ and ‘kore’ means this, what is the difference in their uses? Good question! The confusion comes from the fact that in English, the same word ‘this’ is being used in 2 grammatically different sentences. i.e.‘This is a student’ and ‘This student is pretty’.

So a quick and dirty answer is: ‘kono’, ‘sono’, ‘ano’ and ‘dono’ are called pre-nominals and connect directly to a noun without any particles between the two. In the first box below with blue text, notice that ‘kono’ is followed by ‘shougakkusei’ directly. This isn’t so with ‘kore’ which we will look at next.

Take a Look at These Examples…

kono shougakkusei This grade school student...
kono koukousei This high school student...
sono daigakkusei That college student...
sono seito That student...
ano chugakkousei That junior high school student...
ano koukangakusei That exchange student...
dono pasokon which computer (of 3 or more)
dono kyoushitsu which classroom (of 3 or more)


Other Meanings of Kono, Sono, Ano & Dono

Kono means this thing very near you.
Sono means that thing somewhat near you or something just mentioned or know about.
Ano means that thing way over there or something we both know about.
Dono means which thing of 3 or more.

Sono eiga (desu ka) (You mean) that movie (you mentioned before)?
Ano kaigi (desu ka) (You mean) that conference (that we both know of)?
Sono hito (desu ka) (You mean) that person (we both know or have met)?


Using Kono, Sono, Ano & Dono in a Sentence

Here is the sentence order and English equivalents. Note that both Japanese nouns and adjectives can follow the ‘kono’ & noun combinations.

Kono shougakkusei (wa) Mary (desu) This grade school student is Mary.
Kono eiga (wa) tsumaranai (desu) This movie is boring.
Sono zasshi (wa) aka (desu) That magazine is red.
Sono mondai (wa) hiroi (desu) That problem is terrible.
Ano kettei (wa) fukouhei (desu) That decision is unfair.
Ano sensei (wa) jozu (desu) That teacher is good/skillful.
Dono ko ga suki desu ka Which girl do you like?
Dono ensou wa omoshiroi desu ka Which performance is interesting?

Now Contrast This to Using ‘Kore’,’Sore’,’Are’ and ‘Dore’...

Unlike ‘kono’ and family, ‘kore’ are not pre-nominals and so are often (not always) followed by the particles ‘wa’ and ‘ga’. More on the particle ‘wa’ here. Because they don’t connect directly but stand as the “subject” of the sentence, you can’t say ‘sore hito desu ka’ to mean ‘That person?’ You would say 'sono hito' to mean 'that person?' or 'that person we were just speaking of?'

Take a Look at These Examples…

Kore (wa) heya (desu) This is a room.
Kore (wa) shinbun (desu) This is a newspaper.
Sore (wa) eki (desu ka) Is that the train station?
Sore (wa) noriba (desu ka) Is that the bus stop?
Are (wa) daigaku (desu) That (over there) is a college.
Are (wa) youchien (desu ka) Is that (over there) a kindergarten?


And Finally  Dore

There is one rule to remember with using it. ‘Dore’ is followed by the particle ‘ga’ What’s ‘ga’? Glad you asked. Unlike, ‘wa’ which establishes a loose connection with the subject, ‘ga’ establishes a very tight and exhaustive connection with the subject of the sentence.

So you shouldn’t say ‘Dore wa suki desu ka’ to mean ‘which of these 3 things do you like? Instead, use ‘ga’ in place of ‘wa.

Dore ga suki desu ka Which (of 3 or more) do you like?
Dore ga dame desu ka Which (of 3 or more) is broken or no good.
Dore ga oishii desu ka Which (of 3 or more) is delicious.
Dore ga chugakkou desu ka Which (of 3 or more buildings) is the junior high school?
Dore ga koukou desu ka Which (of 3 or more buildings) is the senior high school?


Let's Try to Translate the Following

1. This movie is boring.
2. This is a boring movie.
3. Is that (way over there) the bus stop?
4. This grade school student is Kumiko.
5. Which magazine (of 3 or more) is interesting?
6. Which performance (of 3 or more) is interesting?
7. That college (slightly removed from you) is new.
8. Is that (slightly removed from us) the train station?
9. That (way over there) is a junior high school.
10. This room is hot.
11. Which computer (of 3) is broken?
12. That exchange student (which we were just speaking about) is smart/clever.
13. Should you use ‘kore’ when talking about something that is far from you?
14. Is it ok to connect ‘kono’ to a noun? i.e. ‘kono kippu’…
15. Is it ok to say ‘dore wa oishii desu ka’?


                              Lesson 5 Test Answers

                     Learn Japanese Online Lesson Index

       Return to Teaching English in Japan From Japanese Nouns

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