Having some issues with demonstratives

I’m reviewing demonstratives and I don’t think I’m able to grasp them very well. I’m having issues trying to differentiate the demonstratives for things vs nouns, and when to use each.

For example, what would be the difference between these two phrases:
その辞書は私のです vs それ辞書は私のです
Is only one correct? Or is this a nuance thing?

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Only one is correct (その)
The other one (それ) works like a noun and cannot be connected to something else in that way.

You could say
instead though, in which case there’s indeed a difference in nuance.


Only the first is correct.

その refers to another noun within the sentence, それ stands on its own as a noun. Think it as “that …” versus “that thing”. So the second sentence is a bit like saying “That thing dictionary is mine.”


Oh, thank you both. To make sure I interpreted correctly: When you want to connect the demonstrative directly to the noun, you use +の?
And apologies for another question, but what would be the difference between a phrase being structured, for example: 「これは私のペンです」vs 「このペンは私のです」? Is it just nuanced?


If you mean you’d be using the words ending in の (so この・その・あの・どの) then yes.

Basically the difference between “this is my pen” and “this pen is mine”. Not different in meaning, but one would probably feel more or less natural depending on the situation - as in, if someone asked you “what’s this thing?” it would be weird to answer with “this pen is mine” - same would go for Japanese, if you were asked “これは何ですか” you wouldn’t answer with “このペンは私のです.”

Also no need to apologise for asking questions :slight_smile:


Thank you so much! It helped a lot


I think one useful way to distinguish contexts between the れ and の forms of the こうそうああどう words is to think of the の as a linker. It means something comes after it and directly connects to it. If it doesn’t, one uses the standalone れ forms.

You can still interact with the れ forms like with any other sentence subjects/topics or verb objects :slight_smile: .

That being said, it is possible to attach the possessive の to れ forms, but that changes the meaning. For example, それの色 - its color. That’s different from その色 - that color.