I thought I knew this but it has just been explained to me in Japanese class and now I am totally confused.

I had always thought と was "and" but apparently it more usually means "or"; when you want to use "and" you should use し at the ends of words? Is this right?

Or is し only for reasons? Surely there are cases where its borderline if you're giving reasons?


と does, in fact, mean "and" in most cases (the only exception I can think of offhand would be when placed after verbs, which is loosely similar to 〜ば or 〜たら). Usually it's used when you're defining a group:

[俺]{おれ}は[武]{たけし}と[夏美]{なつみ}と[東京]{とうきょう}へ[行]{い}った。 "I went to Tokyo with Takeshi and Natsumi."

or giving an exhaustive list of something:

[八百屋]{やおや}で[林檎]{りんご}とニンジンとピーマンと[買]{か}うつもり。 "I'm planning to buy apples, carrots, and peppers at the grocery store."

If you're not intending to give an exhaustive list, you can use や instead of と here to imply that there's more you're not including.

し, on the other hand, is for giving reasons. For example, take the following exchange:

A: どうして[学校]{がっこう}に[来]{こ}なかったの? "Why didn't you come to school?"

B: [熱]{ねつ}があったし、[咳]{せき}もあったし、[宿題]{しゅくだい}がまだやってなかったしもうムリだったんだ。 "It wasn't possible, what with having a fever and a cough, and not having done my homework yet, either."

As with when you're listing things with と, even the last reason in the list should have し after it before going into the explanation, if presented. That said, し doesn't have to be for giving a long list of excuses; it's fine to use it to give just a single reason, like in the response below:

B: [行]{い}きたくなかったし・・・ "Because I didn't want to..."

  • It's probably also worth making a note about the register difference. – Darius Jahandarie Mar 20 '14 at 18:41
  • so し is only reasons and nothing more and for everything else と/や applies as I had thought before the teacher confused me? – user3408758 Mar 21 '14 at 0:02
  • Indeed, that's the case. – Kaji Mar 21 '14 at 0:04
  • What about here: 教育委員会によると、この小学校は「日傘の使用については一律に禁止とするのではなく、個別の事情を考慮し使用を認めている」と説明しているということです。How is し working there? – davidpolygoth Aug 26 '20 at 18:34
  • Hi @davidpolygoth ! In your extended example I'm assuming you're referring to the part at the end (遠慮し使用を認めている), right? In this case it's the ます-stem for する, which is being used in a conjunctive manner in this case. It's functionally no different from して in this case. – Kaji Aug 27 '20 at 8:12

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