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what's the difference between とか and や?

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1 Answer 1

Abridged from Routledge's "Japanese: a comprehensive grammar":

  • とか and や both list representative items, so are usually best translated with "and (among others)" or "or".
  • とか is a combination of と (quotation particle) and か (question particle). As such, it can quote: "生意気だとか態度が悪いとか言われ、傷ついた。" (Read: "「生意気だ」とか「態度が悪い」とか...")
  • とか can be used more than once in a sentence; や must be used no more than once. But や can be used together with punctuation to list more than two items: "歯形や指輪、持ち物など".
  • Both can be used with など, and often are: "A とか・や B など".
  • とか can also be used to mean など, in phrases of the form "A とか" or "A とか B とか": "日本の新聞とか読むの?". It can have particles attached when it does this: "アメ横(a place)とかで売っている".
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