I am currently working through the N1 grammar preparation book 「新完全マスター 文法」and one of the later chapters of the book deals with the difference between 「その+名詞」and「この+名詞」.

There are two examples given:

For 「その+名詞」:


explanation: 「その+名詞」で「そ」が前の文章中のものを指す。

and for 「この/その+名詞」(both can be used):


explanation: 「この/その+名詞」全体で前の文章中のものを指す。

Even with reading the explanation and the two sample sentences, I do not fully understand the difference between cases where only「その+名詞」can be used and cases where both 「この/その+名詞」are correct. Can anyone clarify?


In the former example, その is working like its in English, where そ is it and の is possessive -s. In the latter, この/その is like the/that/this in English. Compare:

  • 山の中に家がありました。その屋根は鮮やかな赤色でした。 → その = "its (roof)"
  • 山の中に家がありました。その/この家には煙突がありました。 → その/この = "the/this (house)"

When その is working like its, it is not interchangeable with この. When その is working like the, この is also grammatical, although there is an obvious difference in mood (similar to the difference between "the house" and "this house" in English).

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