I kept seeing the word sono その but apperently it means "this". does anyone know what "the" is?

  • Not all languages have articles. Russian doesn't have articles either, and I think the Scandinavian languages have a definite article but no indefinite article ('the' but no 'a', as in).
    – Angelos
    Aug 13, 2019 at 1:35
  • 1
    If you have a specific sentence where you believe the nuance of "the" is critical, please present that sentence. There is no simple equivalent of the in Japanese, but there is usually a workaround.
    – naruto
    Aug 13, 2019 at 3:14
  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/59887/22352
    – ajsmart
    Aug 13, 2019 at 12:38

3 Answers 3


Have you ever heard an English language learner complain that the usage of the definite article, the, was hard and confusing? That might be in part because it does not exist in their native language.

That's the case in Japanese: the articles "the" and "a" do not exist. In order for you to think about a sentence in those terms, you would have to deduce the article from context.

I found a little example here:

Definiteness of Nouns
In Japanese, the definiteness and plurality of a noun is implicit. That means you can't tell without context if a noun is singular or plural, or if it's definite or indefinite. A single Japanese noun can be translated in five different ways. For example:

  • neko 猫
    A cat.
    The cat.
    The cats..

That's not to say you can't specify. You can, for example, use the demonstratives この・その・あの: このほん (this book). However, just because you can doesn't mean you have to. If it's clear from context, then it's not necessary.

I couldn't quickly find a post regarding the Japanese language specifically, but here are some related readings on the matter (Linguistics SE):

  • how would you say 'the' in shingeki no kyojin?
    – BCLC
    Aug 19, 2022 at 9:50

There is no definite "the" in the Japanese language. What you could say is:

  1. この犬 (This dog) ...
  2. 犬が好きですか。(Do you like dogs
  3. 小さい犬です。(The dog is small)
  4. 犬はうるさいです。(Dogs are noisy / The/That dog is noisy.)

As you can tell, there is really no definite way. The only way to convey your meaning clearly is to use specific terms (eg. この). However, not using specific terms does not normally change your original meaning by a lot.

Hope this helps! :D

  • how would you say 'the' in shingeki no kyojin?
    – BCLC
    Aug 19, 2022 at 9:50

The other answers are correct in that Japanese does not natively have articles. However, for what it's worth, you will often find many businesses/products/etc. that will use 「ザ」 in the name to sound more modern/western/trendy/whatever.

  • how would you say 'the' in shingeki no kyojin?
    – BCLC
    Aug 19, 2022 at 9:50
  • Yes, but the semantics (if there are any) of ザ are unrelated to the meaning of the definite article in English. Sep 21, 2023 at 2:58

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