I've noticed the following sets of words that seem to have a very obvious pattern, and, of course, their meanings are very closely related:

  • これ、 それ、 あれ、 どれ
  • この、 その、 あの、 どの
  • ここ、 そこ、 あそこ、 どこ

What are the origins of these sets of words? I'm asking them all together because I'm thinking that their origin is interrelated.

  • 3
    こっち、そっち、あっち、どっち, こなた、そなた、あなた、どなた, and more. Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 3:35
  • 1
    My favorite set of this type is こいつ, そいつ, あいつ. Haven't seen どいつ yet though!
    – sartak
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 4:15
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    @sartak I usually only see it in the phrase どいつもこいつも.
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 5:02
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    @istrasci I see ああ a lot with いう, like ああいう人 ("a person like that")
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 5:28
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    @sartak I sometimes hear 「これやらかしたのはどこのどいつだ!!」which I may, not reading the 空気, accidentally reply with 「ヨーロッパのドイツ」
    – syockit
    Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Well, if you use the kanjis, you see the pattern even better!

此れ、 其れ、 彼、 何れ

此の、 其の、 彼の、 何の

此処、 其処、 彼処、 何処

From there, the suffixes "れ"、 "の"、 and "こ" indicate whether you're talking about a thing, a "possessive", or a location.
The prefixes are, as you had guessed, the "distance": close, somehow far, far, and the question "which".

So, "これ" is the close thing, そのX is "the X of mildly far away" and "どこ" is "which location?".
Understanding the others is then straightforward.

  • 1
    Ah! That must be where 彼(かれ)comes from as well.
    – Troyen
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 0:36
  • @Troyen cool, i was thinking how there may be a relation. but it seems like there's no relation at all.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 20:02
  • 2
    This doesn't really answer the question, which is about origins.
    – dainichi
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 13:06

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