I know that you use と for complete lists, and や for incomplete ones, but when would you use xもyも instead of xとy or xやy? Doesn't も usually replace は or が? Why is も used for lists at all?

1 Answer 1


Short answer:

  • と = and (giving an exhaustive list where you're enumerating everything)
  • も = also (could be creating a new list or adding to an existing list)
  • や = things like...and... (clearly only giving samples from the list)

More detailed answer:

I'll start by stealing one of my examples from whats the difference between し and と?


This example clearly states that I'm buying 3 things: apples, carrots, and peppers. If we change と to や, however, we get:


Here we're probably buying more things, but the only ones we decide to list for the listener are the above-mentioned apples, carrots, and peppers. The full list may very well be too exhaustive to list everything out in conversation.

As for も, It's not used so much for creating lists as for expanding them. For example, it wouldn't be inappropriate to follow either of the above with:


...indicating that I need to buy rice as well. I could even list a couple of items in this case:

あぁ、米【こめ】もニンニクも買わなきゃダメ! "Ach, it's going to be real bad if I don't buy rice and garlic, too!"

Now that said, so far we've dealt with lists of objects. When it comes to lists of people, my observations are a little bit different:

  • I've never seen や used in listing people (although I imagine in this case it'd be similar to adding 〜達【たち】 to their name—it indicates a group of people associated with the named person
  • It's not uncommon to initially create a list of people using も. For example:

[俺]{おれ}は[武]{たけし}も[夏美]{なつみ}も一緒【いっしょ】に[東京]{とうきょう}へ[行]{い}った。 "I went to Tokyo with Takeshi and Natsumi."

is a perfectly acceptable construction. It's just like substituting "with" for "and" in such a list in English, and presents a slightly softer nuance.

  • Now that I think about it, I think every time I've seen xもyも it was a list of people. Thanks for the explanation Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 10:05
  • What about lists of verbs (plain form + こと)? I've seen it with も, would it sound weird to use と?
    – CCR
    Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 16:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .