これ (“ko-re”; “This”)
When referring to objects ambiguously, in English, we just say “this” for objects close to the speaker, and “that” for objects away from the speaker. Japanese, however, has three: “this” (close to the speaker), “that” (close to the listener), and “that over there” (away from both the speaker and the listener). For those of you that speak or have studied Spanish, you will notice that Spanish has the same thing (“este”, “ese” “aquel”). For today, let’s focus on “this”.
If your friend just put a bowl of ramen in front of you, and you wanted to ask if it was spicy or not, you could ask:
A:「 これは辛いですか？」(“ko-re wa ka-ra-i de-su ka?”; “Is this spicy?”)
B:「 はい、辛いです。」(“ha-i, ka-ra-i de-su”; “Yes, it is spicy”)
Tomorrow, we will take a look at how to say “that”.