This lesson will explain in better detail how to use これ それ あれ(kore, sore, are) andこの その あの (kono, sono, ano).
これ それ あれ are used on their own. They do not have to come before a noun. They will typically come before the subject marker は (wa).これmeans “this.”それ means “that.” あれ means “that over there.” The word you are using to refer to an object will depend on where that object is located. If the object is near you but far away from your speaker, you should useこれ. If the object is far away from you but close to your listener, you should use それ. If the object is far away from both the speaker and listener, あれ is the best choice.
この その あのare used before nouns. They mean the same thing as their counterparts described above, but can only be used before nouns. Which one you use depends, again, on where the object is located.
For example, say you are walking down the street and see a building. The building is far away from both you and your listener. If you wanted to know what the building was, you could say:
あれはなんですか。(Are wa nan desu ka?) What is that place over there?
あれはデパートです。(Are wa depaato desu.) That place over there is a department store.
You could say it like this:
あのビルはなんですか。(Ano biru wa nan desu ka.) What is that building over there?
あのビルはデパートです。(Ano biru wa depaato desu.) That building over there is a department store.
Both ways of asking the question and giving the answer basically mean the same thing. The difference is one is saying generally “that place over there” while the other is saying specifically “that building over there.” Either is acceptable. The most important thing to remember is that the latter of the two groups can ONLY be used before nouns.
So, you can either be general or specific. Here are some more examples:
それはなんですか。(Sore wa nan desu ka?) What is that?
これはいぬです。(Kore wa inu desu.) This is a dog.
そのとけいはいくらですか。(Sono tokei wa ikura desu ka.) How much is that watch?
このとけいはせんえんです。(Kono tokei wa sen en desu.) This watch is 1,000 yen.
あれはとしょかんですか。(Are wa toshokan desu ka?) Is that place over there a library?
いいえ、あれはデパートです。(Iie, are wa depaato desu.) No, that place over there is a department store.