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In English, we just have one word for the conjunction and which works just fine for many categories, but in Japanese, there are separate words:

  • joins nouns together in a closed list
  • joins nouns together in an open list
  • そして does it do something like joining clauses or run-on sentences?
  • joins adjectives
  • たり joins verbs?
  • which I naively thought of as only meaning "too/also".
  • joins adjectives and verbs?

When can each be used and how should the language learner keep their usages straight and not confuse them?

  • There's a も too, I think. – Troyen Jun 3 '11 at 5:02
  • And also ~たり for verbs: 泣いたり笑ったりのは生きてるものさ – Lukman Jun 3 '11 at 5:02
  • @Troyen: I always thought of "も" (mo) as "too" / "also". I'll add any suggestions to my question as edits to improve it by the way so thanks all (-: – hippietrail Jun 3 '11 at 5:04
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    This is a really vague and hard-to-answer question. Could you make it clearer what exactly you are asking? – Amanda S Jun 3 '11 at 5:10
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    @Amanda: I guess the question just boils down to "How to translate English 'and' to Japanese". It doesn't seem very different to several other questions that already received very good answers but I'm sure my wording could be improved. – hippietrail Jun 3 '11 at 5:16
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and are used to connect two or more nouns.

Most of the time, と can only be used for a fixed number of items like:

キーボードとマウスがいる。

We need a keyboard and a mouse.

But や is used when there is a variable/unknown length like:

キーボードやマウス、それにLANケーブルとかもいるかも。

We need a keyboard, a mouse, and probably LAN cables too.

や can also have the sense of "OR" or "AND/OR" as in:

日本で寿司や刺身を食べたことがまだありません。

I haven't tried sushi and/or sashimi in Japan yet.

But と only means "AND":

日本で寿司と刺身を食べたことがまだありません。

I haven't tried sushi and sashimi in Japan yet.

そして is used as a conjunction between two phrases and has the sense of "then ..."

たり is used to connect two verbs and is used in the sense of giving examples, like Lukman mentioned in the comments:

泣いたり笑ったりするのは生きてる証拠さ。

くて is used to connect two adjectives like:

彼女は美しくて、格好いい。

She is pretty and has wonderful style.

And yes, ~し~し is used to connect two adjectives, with exclusive positive or negative senses:

この部屋は綺麗だし広いし間取りもいいから人気がある。

This room is clean, spacious, and also well partitioned, so most of the people like it.

あの部屋は汚いし暗いし駅からも遠いからなかなか借り手が見つかりません。

That room is (a bit) dirty, (kind of) dark, and far from the station, so nobody bothers to rent it.

is normally used in the sense of "too / also", but sometimes it is used in the sense of "AND":

これもそれもあれも全部欲しいな。

I'd like to have this, that, and also that one, basically everything.

And there are some more forms like ~かつ~ ("plus ..." or "not only ... but also ..."):

必要かつ十分

necessary and sufficient

Also, 及び, 並びに, ともに, and おまけに have a similar usage to "AND".

  • Both answers are very good but I'm accepting yours since you cover "そして" even though it might not be an "and" word. – hippietrail Jun 4 '11 at 6:04
  • btw what do you mean when you say "し can do exclusive posistive or negative senses"? – Pacerier Jun 17 '11 at 18:38
  • @Pacerier, 〜 parts in 〜し〜し is either positive sense し + positive sense し, or negative sense し + negative sense し – YOU Jun 17 '11 at 18:45
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    what about に as an "and" particle? Is it like と or や? – Muhd Oct 30 '11 at 22:23
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    ありゃま。誰かが書いたコメントを、別の人が、またさらに別の人の回答に付け加えたということね・・ややこしいなあ。。 – Chocolate Aug 16 '16 at 2:35
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Suffice it to say, there are a lot more ways to join words or phrases together in Japanese than there are in English, where "and" seems to do the job for nearly every kind of word ("coats and goats," "hard and fast," "eat and drink," "to and fro"...)

It would be difficult to make an exhaustive list of all the ways to do this in Japanese, but here are some common ones.

To join nouns

  • Plain and simple "and."

    猫と犬 (cats and dogs)

  • Indicates a non-exhaustive list of similar nouns.

    猫や犬 (cats and dogs, etc.)

  • も...も Analogous to "both...and..." in English.

    猫も犬も (both cats and dogs)

To join adjectives

  • -くて Plain and simple "and," but can sometimes imply that the second adjective follows from the first.

    甘くておいしい (sweet and [thus] delicious)

To join verbs

  • -て form Simplest way to join verbs. Can sometimes imply order of occurrence or cause and effect.

    行って来る (go and [then] come back)

    英語を勉強して話せた (studied English and was [thus] able to speak)

  • -たり A non-exhaustive list of actions.

    食べたり飲んだりする (eat and drink, etc.)

To join clauses

  • A list of reasons, most of which are left unsaid.

    ねむいし仕事があるし (I'm sleepy, and I have work to do, and...[I really don't want to] [so I can't do what you're asking])

  • heys btw if くて implies a sense of "after", what alternatives do we have to join [adj]+[adj] without that implication? – Pacerier Jun 17 '11 at 18:37
  • Great list, but I wonder about your 「勉強」 sentence. Usually, if there's a change (such as in the speaker's ability to speak English), don't people usually use conditional expressions like 「〜たら」? – jefflovejapan Sep 7 '11 at 12:12
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Don't forget that there are also many grammatical constructs whose core meaning essentially boils down to "and".

  • それに/[更]{さら}に・(〜に)くわえて → "(and) in addition (to) ~, ..."
  • 〜上 → "(and) on top of that, ..."
  • (〜にも)まして → "(and) more than that, ..."

This complicates things a little more by adding more options to choose from. But overall, I think the nuances of each meaning should help you choose the right one. The hard part is remembering all the choices you have.

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