Which Is Which? When To Use どっち and どれ in Japanese :どちら (dochira), どっち (docchi), and どれ (dore) are used in the same way as “which” or “which one” is used in English. Today, we’re going to learn when to use dochira, docchi, and dore.  

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Which Is Which? When To Use どっち and どれ in Japanese

Learn Japanese – 5W1H – Japanese Question Words – What,Where,When,Who,Why,How

Dochira, docchi, and dore are pronouns that ask a question—the same as the word “which.”  

Dochira and docchi have the same meaning (which), except dochira is used in formal situations, and docchi is used in casual conversation. Both are used when comparing or selecting between 2 options


Sushi to tempura to, dochira ga oishii desu ka? 
(Which is more delicious, sushi or tempura?)

In the above sentence, we only have 2 options to select from: sushi or tempura. Therefore, we use either dochira or docchi. In the above, we are using dochira because the more formal desu ka is at the end of the sentence. If we want to be more casual, we can just omit the desu ka and use docchi

Sushi to tempura to, docchi ga oishii?

(NOTE: When asking a question in Japanese without using desu ka at the end, you have to raise your intonation at the end of the sentence to make it clear that you’re asking a question.)

Dore is used when comparing or selecting from 3 or more options


Washoku no naka de, dore ga ichiban oishii desu ka? 
(Of all Japanese food, which is the most delicious?)

Again, if you want to turn the above example into a more casual sentence, you simply omit the desu ka and raise your intonation at the end of the sentence.

Now, let’s look at a few more examples.      

1. 洋服和服どちらがかわいいですか? — Yōfuku to wafuku to, dochira ga kawaii desu ka? — Which is cuter, western clothing or Japanese traditional clothing?

We are comparing 2 things here, so we know to use dochira or docchi. Here, we are using the formal dochira. Therefore, it’s better to follow it up with a desu ka at the end. Let’s begin constructing our sentence below.


Now, we need 2 things to compare. In the example, we are using Yōfuku (western style clothing, which can be anything from business suits to shorts and T-shirts) and wafuku (Japanese-style clothing; such as, kimono and the summer version of kimono called yukata). In order to be clear that we are only comparing these 2 things, we connect them by using to (and). 


And, finally, we need an adjective in order to complete our question. Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese. Since dochira is a pronoun (keyword: noun), we need to connect it to the adjective kawaii using ga.


And there we have it! We have constructed our sentence. 

Here are some other examples using dochira and docchi:

(Doraemon to Pikachu to, docchi ga suki?)
Which do you like better, Doraemon or Pikachu?
(Kanji to Nihongo no bunpou to, dochira ga muzukashii desu ka?)
Which is more difficult, Japanese kanji or Japanese grammar

BONUS: When answering these questions, you respond by replacing dochira or docchi with のほう (no hou). Here’s how you do it:

(Doraemon no hou ga suki.)
I like Doraemon better.
(Kanji no hou ga muzukashii.)
Kanji is more difficult.

Now, let’s take a look at dore.

2. アニメの中で、どれがおもしろい(ですか)?Anime no naka de, dore ga omoshiroi (desu ka)?  — Of all anime, which is the most entertaining? 

Here, we aren’t limiting our question to just 2 choices anymore. We’re offering a variety of choices encompassing the entirety of anime. Therefore, we use dore.

With dochira/docchi we had to connect our 2 options with the word to. Here, we state the category (anime) and follow it with no naka de (“of all,” or “within [this category]”). However, it is still possible to list 3 or more options to choose from. In this case you still connect them with to, but at the end, you connect them to dore with no naka de. Here is an example:

(Playstation 4 to Nintendo Switch to PC game no naka de, dore ga ii [desu ka]?)
Which is better, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, or PC games?

BONUS: In order to answer a dore question, instead of using no hou ga with dochira/docchi, you use 一番 (ichi-ban), which means “the best.” Here are some examples:

(One Piece ga ichi-ban omoshiroi [desu].)
One Piece is the most entertaining.
(Playstation 4 ga ii [desu] ne.)
I like Playstation 4 the best.

NOTICE: In the Playstation 4 example, we cut out ichi-ban for the sake of brevity. We’re not asking in all seriousness, “What is the top-of-the-line most technologically sound gaming system on the market?” We’re just asking which one you prefer; therefore, we’re not breaking any rules by cutting out ichi-ban.

3. どっちでもいい(です)Docchi de mo ii (desu) — Whichever is fine 

If someone presents you with options, and you don’t care either way, this is an indispensable phrase to use. You can also substitute docchi with dochira if you want to be more formal, and if someone presents you with an array of choices (3 or more), you can use dore.  


FRIEND: Karaoke to izakaya to, docchi ga ii? (Which is better, karaoke or izakaya?)
YOU: Docchi de mo ii. (Either is fine.)

Now that you’ve learned the basics of using dochira, docchi, and dore, it’s time to get out there and practice until using it becomes second nature. 

Remember: practice, practice, practice!

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