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The following Japanese sentence was translated with その as "the":

その 仕事の一部を誰かにやってもらったほうがいい。
You should get someone else to do some of the work for you.

while I translated it with その as "that":

You'd better get someone to do part of that job for you.

When その is translated as "the," will it be ignoring some part of it's meaning?

Furthermore, if その is deleted as:


would it be ungrammatical? By intending 仕事 to mean "job/work in general" as opposed to specifically "that job/work," would the meaning become too vague to be adequately comprehensible?

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How would you then translate You should get someone else to do some of the work for you. in japanese? And what would you think of this sentence? You should get someone else to do some of that work for you. – oldergod Feb 8 '12 at 0:33
I'm interested if 仕事の一部を誰かにやってもらったほうがいい can mean your first sentence. The 2nd sentence is natural and understandable. – yadokari Feb 8 '12 at 4:49
I think that both translations are correct. That その is always a demonstrative but that it is not necessarily always translated as one. Then about using その or not, both sentences would be correct. With その, I feel the speaker is not related to this job, not part of the involved people. Without その, I feel the speaker is related to it, he's from the inside; like 2 colleagues on the same project. – oldergod Feb 8 '12 at 6:57
thanks that helped my understanding – yadokari Feb 8 '12 at 17:48
I think that the two English sentences “You should get someone else to do some of the work for you” and “You'd better get someone to do part of that job for you” mean the same thing. Comparing these two does not seem to have anything to do with Japanese. – Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 9 '12 at 11:10
up vote 0 down vote accepted

There are definitely cases where it doesn't make sense to translate その into an English demonstrative adjective.

アインシュタインとその人生 Einstein and his life ('his', I guess, is a possesive pronoun)

まあ、その、なんていうか... Well, oh, you know... (filler word)

Another thing to point out: Japanese speakers tend to use personal pronouns (including possesive pronouns) less than English speakers. Sometimes Japanese speakers might use その in cases where 'your' might be more natural in English.

そのケータイ、いいねぇ Your cell phone is cool!

If you're really asking whether, when translating to English, その should often be translated to the article 'the' instead of 'that', then I would say usually no. If there's a need to specify which object is referred in Japanese, there's a good chance the need is there in English as well. But then, it really depends on the situation and context, so it's hard to give exact rules.


is gramatically fine per se, just as the job/that job/your job all work in the English version. But その仕事 sounds more like 'the task you're working on right now', where just 仕事 could be taken as 'your job' (i.e. your position). Again, hard to say exactly without more context.

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その is not always a demonstrative. When used anaphorically it does not obey the general rule of:

  • こ~ nearer to the speaker than listener

  • そ~ nearer to the listener than the speaker

  • あ~ removed from both speaker and listener

When the referent is known to the speaker but either unknown to the listener or the speaker thinks that the listener does not know the referent well enough the speaker uses その.

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regarding the quoted sentence exclusively, it is not clear that it is used anaphorically, no? – yadokari Feb 8 '12 at 4:51
@yadokari. I feel that it is possible for it to be either demonstrative or anaphoric. Without having the surrounding context it is not easy to determine which. – Flaw Feb 8 '12 at 10:09

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