Grammar · Japanese

How to say “that” in Japanese correctly 2: あの or その?

This is a sequel to my previous post, where I explained the basic usage of the Japanese demonstrative adjectives この(kono), その(sono) and あの(ano).

In this post, I’ll show you exceptional usages of the Japanese demonstrative adjective あの.
Usually you should use その to refer to something that has already been mentioned in the conversation, but あの is also used in the following cases.

You can use あの for what’s already been mentioned when:

  • you are visualizing the thing/person/scene in your mind and mention it, rather than referring to what’s told by the conversation partner(s).
  • you want to put an emphasis on it and show your surprise.

Remember, あの is used for something/someone you, and usually the listener(s) also, know or have seen. Therefore, you must be able to picture it/her/him in your mind.

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Example 1

Ben 「Mr. Aのことを知っていますか?」
(Do you know Mr. A?)
(Hmm… Oh yeah, that person!)
☝️Dan uses あの because he’s just remembered (visualized) Mr. A’s face in his mind.

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Example 2

Ben: 「Mr Aが昨日、激怒していました。」
(Mr. A was furious yesterday.)
(That person?! Really?)
☝️Dan uses あの because he’s showing his surprise, recalling Mr. A’s gentle face in his mind.

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Example 3

(Harry: Did you hear that Ron got full marks on the exam?!)

Possible response 1「その話を聞いたときは、びっくりした!」
(I was astonished to hear that!)
☝️その話 (that story) is what Harry has just told.

Possible response 2「あの話を聞いたときは、びっくりした!」
☝️He’s emphasizing the word or visualizing the scene when he first heard that.

Is Everything clear? 🙂

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