Languages › Japanese The Ko-So-A-Do System Basic Japanese Lessons Share Flipboard Email Print Languages History & Culture Essential Japanese Vocabulary Japanese Grammar By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated November 04, 2019 Japanese has sets of words which are based on the physical distance between the speaker and the listener. They are called "ko-so-a-do words" because the first syllable is always either ko-, so-, a-, or do-. "Ko-words" refer to things nearer to the speaker, "So-words" to things nearer to the listener, "A-words" to things that are at distance from both the speaker and the listener, and "Do-words" are questions words. Please look at the picture above and see the following conversation among animals. The Ko-So-A-Do System Kuma: Kore wa oishii na.Risu: Honto, sore wa oishisou da ne.Nezumi: Ano kaki mo oishisou da yo.Tanuki: Dore ni shiyou kana. くま: これはおいしいな。りす: ほんと、それはおいしそうだね。ねずみ: あのかきもおいしそうだよ。たぬき: どれにしようかな。 (1) kono/sono/ano/dono + [Noun] They cannot be used on their own. They have to be followed by the noun that they modify. kono honこの本 this book sono honその本 that book ano honあの本 that book over there dono honどの本 which book (2) kore/sore/are/dore They cannot be followed by a noun. They can be replaced with kono/sono/ano/dono + [Noun] when the things indicated are obvious. Kono hon o yomimashita.この本を読みました。 I read this book. Kore o yomimashita.これを読みました。 I read this. (3) Ko-so-a-do Chart ko- so- a- do- thing kono + [Noun]この sono + [Noun]その ano + [Noun]あの dono + [Noun]どの koreこれ soreそれ areあれ doreどれ place kokoここ sokoそこ asokoあそこ dokoどこ direction kochiraこちら sochiraそちら achiraあちら dochiraどちら The "kochira" group can be used as the polite equivalent of the "kore" or "koko" group. These expressions are often used by employees in the service industries. Click here to check out a lesson for shopping. Kore wa ikaga desu ka.これはいかがですか。 How about this one? Kochira wa ikaga desu ka.こちらはいかがですか。 How about this one? (more polite) Asoko de omachi kudasai.あそこでお待ちください。 Please wait over there. Achira de omachi kudasai.あちらでお待ちください。 Please wait over there. (more polite) Learn Basic Japanese Needed for Ordering at a Restaurant Children's Day in Japan and Koinobori Song Umi no mizu wa naze karai - Learn from a Story All About the Japanese Particles Wa and Ga Do You Know the Many Usages of "O" and "No" in Japanese? What does the Japanese word oishii mean? Using the Japanese Particles Wa and Ga Correctly How Do You Say "Happy Halloween" in Japanese? Learn Difference Between Japanese Words "Kudasai" and "Onegaishimasu" How Sentence Ending Particles Express Emotions in Japanese The Extended Use of the Verb "Suru" in Japanese What's the Meaning of 'nani' in Japanese? Learn About Expressions of Ability and Potential Verbs in Japanese Exams, Superstitions, and Kit Kat Bars Most Common Sentence Ending Particles in Japanese Sentences (2) Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru"