Determiners are words that come before nouns or noun phrases in order to “introduce” them. They help show how a given noun (phrase) is relevant to the context at hand.

田中はあそこの家に住んでいる。Tanaka lives in that house over there.
どのチームが好きですか? Which team do you like?


Of all the things to worry about in Japanese, articles are not one of them. The words a, an and the do not exist in Japanese.

Demonstrative determiners

Demonstrative determiners are sort of empowered versions of the demonstrative pronouns this and that: they allow us to give a little more detail about something that we’re going to talk about by referring to it specifically. They’re similar to demonstrative pronouns, but determiners connect to nouns rather than replace them.

Dem. Pronoun: I like this. This is great. (the word “pen” is replaced by “this”)
Dem. Determiner: I like this pen. This pen is great. (“this” is used alongside “pen”)

Unlike English, Japanese determiners are not the same as their corresponding pronouns.

ThisThatThat (over there)
Dem. Determinerこのそのあの
Dem. Pronounこれそれあれ

To translate the above examples into Japanese:

Dem. Pronoun: これが好きです。これが素晴らしい(すばらしい)。
Dem. Determiner: このペンが好きです。このペンが素晴らしい。

Possessive Determiners

Possessive determiners go before nouns in order to show who they belong or pertain to. In Japanese, they are made by simply tacking の onto the possessor.

彼は私のお父さんです。He is my father. (の changes I into my)
私は彼の息子です。I am his son. (の changes he into his)

The possessive particle の can also be added onto any noun.

エッセイの内容は複雑です。The content of the essay is complicated.

Interrogative Determiners

Interrogative Determiners are paired with other determiners. They are used to request information about something.

これは誰の子供ですか?Whose kid is this?
どちらのレストランに行きましたか?Which restaurant did you go to?
どんな種類の本が好きですか?What kind of book do you like?

To respond, simply replace the determiner with an answer.

これは私の子供です。This is my kid.
駅の隣にあるレストランに行きました。I went to the restaurant next to the station.
ホラーの本が好きです。I like horror books.