A : この電車は東京へ行きますか。

B : いいえ、行きません。次の「普通」ですよ。

I'm not sure what B meant by 'the next local train'. It sounds like he's saying that 'this train is the next local train' which meaning I could not understand. My friend suggested that he must have meant 'it's the next local train (that will go to Tokyo)' but the topic is 'This train'.

  • Are there any express trains that skip Tokyo station while local ones on the same line stop there? There is an opposite situation in Chuo Line, but...
    – macraf
    Nov 9, 2017 at 0:39
  • 2
    @macraf At the same number platform in Yokohama station, they have Yokohama line whose have an express train goes to Hachioji and Keihinn Tohoku line whose have a local train goes to Tokyo station. It is confusing especially in the morning.
    – user25382
    Nov 9, 2017 at 3:17

4 Answers 4


Your friend is correct in his/her understanding.

A : この電車は東京へ行きますか。

B : いいえ、行きません。次の「普通」ですよ。

In A's question, "this train" is surely the subject. It is explicitly mentioned.

When B replies, however, s/he utters two short sentences with a different (and unmentioned) subject for each.

That is the Japanese language; It is all about context.

A: "Does this train go to Tokyo?"

B: "No, it doesn't. The next local train does/goes to Tokyo."


B is is saying:

It's the next (local) train that you need to take / is going to Tokyo.

There is no explicit topic in this sentence.

The person replied to A's question with いいえ、行きません。 and added a suggestion based on a (quite natural) guess that a person asking about some target station intends to go to that station.

By asking a question you are not binding the person to adhere to whatever form you used.

It's quite parallel to English:

  • Is this train going to Tokyo?
  • No, the next one is.

In the question a subject is "this train", in the reply it changes to "a train going to Tokyo".


A : この電車は東京へ行きますか。

B : いいえ、行きません。(あなたがお探しの電車は)次の「普通」ですよ。

Native Japanese people can understand that「お探しの電車は」「正しい電車は」or「東京に行くのは」are abbreviated. It is clear according to the context and situation.

One note is that 「東京」is the biggest station in Japan, so any express trains must stop at Tokyo station. Therefore, the context doesn't make sense in a certain point of view.

  • Not all express trains go as far as Tokyo, however. See this timetable at 23:16 the express only goes as far as Shinjuku, but the next local takes you to Tokyo. (You might be quicker changing at Shinjuku, but that's another argument...)
    – Ken Y-N
    Nov 10, 2017 at 0:45
  • Well, Tokyo station is the biggest in terms of number of trains per day (~3000), but only has around half a million passengers per day. Shinjuku station is the biggest in terms of passengers (in the whole world) with ~3.6 million per day (afaik this only counts boarding/exiting passengers for the JR east, so the total throughput should be even higher)
    – a20
    Nov 10, 2017 at 8:48

A : この電車は東京へ行きますか。
B : いいえ、行きません。次の「普通」ですよ。


B : いいえ、 この電車は東京へ 行きません。 東京へ行く電車は 次の「普通」 電車(または「普通」列車) ですよ。



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