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I'm unsure how to write the sentence "That (near you) is a pencil." in Japanese. Is it "Sono pen wa desu." or "Sore wa pen desu." ? Or are both of them right/wrong? I'm a beginner so I can only read and write in hiragana at the moment (haven't started with kanji and katakana yet).

Apreciate your help!

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    Well, ペン (pen) doesn't mean pencil, firstly... – Leebo Feb 8 at 23:37
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"Sono pen wa desu" breaks down for 2 reasons, one grammatical, one logical:

  • 'desu' needs a predicate (see mamster's example): for mere existence you need 'arimasu'.
  • As soon as you write "sono pen" you take it for granted that it's a pen, just as in English you cannot start a question with 'this pen' to ask whether it's a pen.
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それはえんぴつです。

Means "That is a pencil." The other sentence is ungrammatical, but you could make it grammatical by adding a word, such as:

その[ペン]{ぺん}はあかいです。

"That pen is red."

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    英語の "That pen is red." って、「そのペンは赤です・それは赤ペンです」って意味? それとも「そのペンは赤いです。」(←見た目が赤い)って意味?それとも両方アリ? – Chocolate Feb 9 at 2:49
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    @Chocolate Just saying 'the pen is red' in English is ambiguous. The meaning would come from context, but I think most of the time it would refer to the ink colour. – user3856370 Feb 9 at 8:38
  • おお~ ありがとうございます ^^ @user3856370 – Chocolate Feb 9 at 8:49

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