I know that they can both mean "so, therefore, because of that" etc., so what is the difference when I use them with that meaning?

3 Answers 3


I wll try to explain this without translating the words themselves as, I feel, wanting to translate should be the major reason that you are experiencing difficulty in understanding these words.  

「それで」 is generally used to express a simple "cause and effect" relationship between two events or situations. "B happens as a (natural) result of A." It is close to 「ですから」 in meaning.

「ウィスキーを[一本飲]{いっぽんの}んだ。それで[頭]{あたま}が[痛]{いた}い。」 Drinking a whole bottle of whiskey has caused your headache.

「[朝]{あさ}から[大雨]{おおあめ}です。それでピクニックを[中止]{ちゅうし}しました。[残念]{ざんねん}です。」 Heavy rain since morning has caused the cancellation of the picnic.

「そこで」 is used to describe an action that is performed in response to an existing situation. "Measure B is taken to solve/alleviate Situation A."

「[日本語]{にほんご}のテストで40[点]{てん}しか[取]{と}れなかった。そこで[勉強方法]{べんきょうほうほう}を[変]{か}えてみたら、70点取れた。」 You had done poorly on the previous test. This time, you tried a new method of studying and it worked.

「[社員]{しゃいん}が[増]{ふ}え、オフィスが[狭]{せま}くなった。そこで[今]{いま}より[大]{おお}きいオフィスを[探]{さが}すことにしました。」 The fact that you have more employees now and it is making the office feel too small necessitates searching for a new space to rent.

Finally, there will be cases where the distinction is not as clear as one would like it to be. My last sentence about office space is an example of that. In those cases, the speaker/writer would need to decide which one would better express what s/he wanted to express.

Generally speaking, it would look or sound like a bigger mistake to use そこで where それで should be used than to go the other way around.


そこで feels more like "at that place, therefore"

それで has a sense of continuity, and in spoken Japanese is probably perceived more softly because it lacks the "k" consonant sound.

Very rarely have I heard soko_de used in this meaning, and almost always as "at that place, (something occurred)."

それで Definitely connects two fragments. A それで B. It is not precisely "therefore" but more like "and so"


A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar has a section for そこで (page 401), it states:

Sore de and soko de are similar and are interchangeable in many situations.

Sore de, however, differs from soko de in several ways. First, sore de can connect a cause and a result while soko de cannot.

Second, sore de is used to mean 'that's why.' Soko de cannot replace sore de in this use.

Third, when sore de is used, the situation does not have to be a special one.

Fourth, when sore de is used, the situation does not have to be controllable.

In real life usage, of course these distinction are more blurred.

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