I’ve just started learning Japanese. How do I say “the” in Japanese? I’ve learned demonstratives like “kore” “sore” “are” in Japanese. Are these different from “the”?


Answer by Professional Japanese Teacher
There is no “the” in Japanese!

The answer is simple. As written above, “the” does not exist in Japanese. In English, “the” is an article. There are other articles like “a” and “an” in English, but Japanese language does not have the concept of articles.

You’ve learnt “kore” “sore” “are” in beginner Japanese, but these are not articles. They are demonstrative pronouns. If we translate them to English, they mean “this” “that” “that over there”.

As they are nouns, they can be used on their own. However, as “a” “an” “the” cannot be used on their own, they are grammatically different even if the meaning is similar.

This is my car.
Kore wa watashi no kuruma desu.

That is not my car. 
Sore wa watashi no kuruma dewa arimasen.

That over there is Mike’s car. 
Are wa Maiku no kuruma desu.

Learning a foreign language is a process of encountering “common sense” that is different from your first language. I recommend the following links to find out more of such “common sense”. Do learn more about the strange and mysterious aspects of the Japanese language.

Is Japanese language difficult to learn? Let’s look at the characteristics of the language

Introduction to Japanese Word Order

What are particles? How they are used with real life examples