この vs あの usage regarding nonphysical gifts

My pen pal sent me a super long list of links to manga recommendations. It was long, but also super thought-out. I’d rather not get into details. But anyway, I replied in a thank you message:

このリストがすばらしい

I’m wondering if I should have used:

あのリストがすばらしい

instead.

I’ve read the tofugu article on あの、
この、そのa while ago. I feel like I should have used あの, to imply that the list was something we are both familiar with. But i thought, “but if i use この, will it sound like the list is now exclusively mine? i want to imply that, but not to emphasize ownership. rather, i want to imply that the list was a gift, and gift specifically to me.”

basically, im wondering what my wording conveyed, and whether or not it’s correct, or even natural sounding.

any insight would be appreciated.

その’s usually the one that’s used for previously-mentioned things. あの implies more distance (since it’s “that one over there”), so it feels like it would be used for a prior list (like one exchanged a long while back), rather than the most recent one.

That said, I’m not sure if この or その would be the better choice in this case. afaik though, none of them imply any sort of ownership, just distance.

…Of course, I’m like beginner-intermediate, and I haven’t come across a situation like this before, so I could totally be off

1 Like

Simple and easy way of thinking about this, in my opinion: in the message you sent, was the list in question clearly visible and only a few messages away?

See, if you were writing a letter or email, then I’d say you shouldn’t use このリスト unless you’re talking about a list that immediately follows the sentence or paragraph containing that phrase. The reason is that letters and emails are self-contained, making anything from outside the email relatively distant and therefore requiring その or あの. However, if you’re talking over a messaging service, I think この and その are both acceptable. If you use その, it makes sense because it’s something that comes from your friend, and perhaps implies that you feel some distance relative to it. However, この is fine as well, though it would probably sound as though you’re standing next to your friend and pointing at the list, as in

Friend: Here’s a list of manga I think you might like.
You: Wow, this list is wonderful!

One thing to note though: precisely because of the sense of proximity communicated, I think that この only makes sense if the list is very recent in the sequence of messages.

I could be wrong, particularly since I haven’t read any article on こそあど word usage in a long time, but my impression is that this sort of usage of あの is meant to trigger recollection, meaning it has to be something that both of you know about and which is from the relatively distant past (e.g. ‘you remember that restaurant we went to yesterday?’ – you would use あの店・レストラン here, I think).

I’m not 100% sure about everything I’ve just said, but I’ve sent and received messages and emails in Japanese for quite a while at this point, and I’ve seen この used in the way I just mentioned in spite of the fact that I would have preferred a ‘that’ (i.e. その) in English. There’s an amount of flexibility, just like with ‘this’ and ‘that’ in English. In any case, to conclude, I’d say that it’s likely that このリスト made perfect sense – provided the conditions I mentioned above are satisfied – but そのリスト would have made sense as well.

7 Likes

Friend sends a list.

“This list is awesome!”

“That list is awesome!”

Either works just fine. Especially if the friend isn’t spatially close to you, the subtle nuance is identical to English: the first (this / この) emphasizes what you’ve received which is conceptually close to you, while the latter (that / あの) emphasizes what they sent which is conceptually far from both of you.

8 Likes

Thank you for the replies. I feel my understanding has increased. I think この did indeed convey what I wanted, and あの wouldn’t have.

1 Like