From early on, I've used こら and ほら somewhat interchangeably. They both mean "hey!"

I picked them up from friends early on without really having a sense of the difference.

Now, after some time, I've come to understand that ほら is simply "hey!", as in just getting someone's attention, and こら is "hey" with a flavour of "dude, what the hell?" mixed in.

The thing is, I still tend to slip and use こら when maybe I should say ほら, and vice versa. Old habits die hard.

My question is, when I mix up and say こら instead of ほら, how bad is it?


こら is uttered usually when the speaker is scolding or blaming someone. ほら is used to draw someone’s attention to something. They are not interchangeable.

I do not know how bad it is to mix them up, especially if other people know that you speak Japanese as a foreign language, but using こら in an inappropriate situation can be rude and may give the impression that you consider that you are superior to the addressee.

  • 3
    You also can't roll your Rs with ほら: ほるるるるらーっ! Nope, doesn't sound right. – Derek Schaab Sep 7 '11 at 14:00
  • 1
    What about when you are drawing someone's attention to the following scolding your about to give them? – taylor Aug 14 '12 at 6:41

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