What's the difference between とか and たりする when listing verbs?

  • 1
    Do you have some example sentence or specific context in mind?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


The differences:

I think this is an excellent video answering precisely your question.

Let me explain anyway for who doesn't understand the video (which is only in Japanese). For starters, as you understand the meaning is basically the same. They are both used to list and express a sequence of actions.

Grammatically speaking, the main difference is the following:

You cannot use とか after adjectives. It can only follow nouns and verbs.

For example the following sentences are equivalent:



Notice that とか always follows nouns. In case of verbs consider for example:



These are also equivalent. Another example is:



These are also both correct but notice that it is more natural to use たり.
とか isn't wrong but less natural for native speakers.

Last is the case of adjectives. In this case as I said you can only use たり.

For example:


In this case you cannot use とか.

These are other sources that seem confirm above (they never mention とか after adjectives):

link_1 (point 12 a. b.) - link_2 (look at 文法, only mentions nouns and verbs plain form)。

The similarities:

I think you pretty much got this covered. However, I just wanted to add that both these forms are quite colloquial. That is, you would not use them in formal situation where you'd better use honorific language or in formal writing. Here are a couple of links with more info: link_3, link_4. I won't go too much in detail as you ask for the differences after all.


According to the comments, it seems you could actually colloquially use とか after an adjective. However, always according to the comments this is too casual or "a bit slangy" so I think we could say you could forget about it.

  • 1
    You could forcibly say 暑いとか 寒いとか だったりする, if you dare.
    – user4092
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 13:19
  • @user4092 can you provide a reference? I cannot find any. I'm not saying that the guy in the video is necessarily a grammar expert but is a still a Japanese guy who is teaching Japanese.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 1:39
  • 1
    It's reasonable for a teacher to avoid that form because it's too casual or a little bit slangy.
    – user4092
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 3:02
  • @Chocolate indeed. I meant that of course a Japanese guy doing a youtube video is not necessarily a solid reference. However, it seems enough to answer the OP question. Although to this point I could not find yet a more reliable grammar reference about this topic, anywhere I looked I did not find adj+とか mentioned. Besides, if we speak about grammar, being "too casual" is not even a guarantee that something is grammatically correct. People colloquially use wrong grammar all the time.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 3:46
  • @user4092 see my comment above. Anyway, thanks for the input. I updated my answer to take account of your comment.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 3:49

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