Sign up ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

what's the difference between とか and や?

share|improve this question
I'd say that the biggest difference is that you can use とか in a list of only one item, but や needs to be used in a list of two or more items. – 無色受想行識 Jan 2 at 6:33
Like almost all of these questions of the form "What is the difference..." this is asking for the impossible. There is never a single 'difference'. – Brian Chandler Jan 6 at 8:12

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".
share|improve this answer
Hmm, I'm not sure や can only be used once in a sentence. The first example in 大辞泉 is 「赤青が混ざり合っている」 – snailboat Jan 2 at 1:17
But the book you're citing definitely says it can only be used once: "toka, a combination of the quotation P to and the Q P ka, can join nouns in the same way that ya does in the sense of 'and', 'or' (see 241), but unlike ya it can be used more than once in a sentence." (p.542) And "ya joins items in the sense of 'and (among others)' or 'or'. It is used (once) between items only." (p.593) – snailboat Jan 2 at 1:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.