In a conversation, when the speaker wants to refer to something that has been said, should he use 「その/それ」or「あの/あれ」or「この/これ」?

Example 1


Example 2

先週怖い新聞記事を見た。ある男が人を傷つけて逃げたということがそれ/あれ/これ (referring to 新聞記事) に書かれていた。私はそれ/あれ/これ (referring to the whole incident) を知って夜眠れなくなった。

  • 1
    Great question! I’m also wondering about this one for a while. There is a third example I want to add: which こそあ is appropriate if I want to modify the first instance of 新聞 and what about the second one?「先週 その/あの/この 怖い新聞を見た。その/あの/この 新聞は。。。」
    – Jimmy Yang
    Jun 27, 2022 at 19:52
  • 1
    Not related to the question but is your first language Chinese?
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 28, 2022 at 2:58
  • 1
    @JimmyYang What do you mean to say in English by "先週その怖い新聞を見た。" ? Are you referring to a newspaper already know to the listener? Otherwise it doesn't make sense to me.
    – mamster
    Jun 28, 2022 at 14:58
  • @aguijonazo Yes, my native language is Chinese.
    – vincentlin
    Jun 28, 2022 at 17:01
  • 1
    I took the liberty to fix the grammar mistakes unrelated to your main concern. 新聞 does not actively speak like a human.
    – naruto
    Jun 29, 2022 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


Specifically in your examples, その/それ is the natural and neutral choice, but この/これ can be used, too. その/それ is often the safest choice that corresponds to English "the", "it" or "its".

あの/あれ and この/これ are chosen depending on the "psychological distance" between the speaker and the object in question. It's hard to generalize, but if the object is psychologically close only to the speaker (e.g., when it's natural to make a gesture of holding it), この/これ tends to be chosen. あれ is used to explicitly indicate there is a distance.

  • あの人とは先週会ったが、二度と会いたくない。
    I met that person a week ago, and I never want to see him again.
  • あの本の名前ってなんだっけ。先週一緒に読んだあれ
    What's the name of that book? The one we read together last week.
  • ええ、その曲は3年前に私が作りました。これは私のお気に入りの曲です。
    Yes, I made that song three years ago, and it's my favorite.

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