478 - とか~とか

と means "and" (sometimes).

And か marks questions (sometimes).

So maybe it makes sense that とか means "and such" or "and so on"...?

If you're thinking that sounds simple, don't worry. I have lots of weird rules and examples to confuse you with:


JLPT N3: とか~とか (and such; and so on)

We'll start with a nice, clean example:


飲み物の中では私はコーラとかファンタとかの炭酸飲料が好きです。
のみもの の なか で は わたし は コーラ とか ファンタ とか の たんさんいんりょう が すき です。
As for drinks, I like carbonated ones like cola and Fanta.
Literally: “drinks + の + inside + では + I + は + cola + とか + Fanta + とか + の + carbonated drinks + が + liked + です.”


By putting とか after the drinks "cola" and "Fanta," the speaker is showing that these are just examples of a longer list of carbonated drinks that she or he likes. There are other types of carbonated drinks not mentioned that she/he also enjoys.

If you're scared by the smattering of kanji in 炭酸飲料, you might be interested to know that there was a time in my life when I was sort of addicted to 炭酸水 (たんさんすい // carbonated water). Wilkinson is the king of carbonated water:

It has enough bubbles to burn your throat going down.


Grammar Stuff

The word that comes directly before とか will always be a NOUN, a plain present tense verb (=Vる), or pretty much anything in plain form (e.g. だ, だった, Vない, etc.)

If it doesn't already, putting plain form words before とか will eventually feel very natural to you.

Still, I'll give a couple of examples...

NOUNとかNOUNとか

コーラとかファンタとか
コーラ とか ファンタ とか
cola and Fanta and so on
Literally: "cola + とか + Fanta + とか"

V るとかV ないとか

別れるとか別れないとか
わかれる とか わかれない とか
will break up, and won't break up, and so on
Literally: "separate / break up + とか + won’t separate / break up + とか"

Looking at grammatical constructions in isolation kind of confuses me. Let's just look at full sentences instead...


Sometimes the final とか in our series of とか things will be following by the particle の. We need to do this when we want to put a noun after the final とか.

Don't worry. This is old news. You already saw it:


飲み物の中では私はコーラとかファンタとか炭酸飲料が好きです。
のみもの の なか で は わたし は コーラ とか ファンタ とか の たんさんいんりょう が すき です。
As for drinks, I like carbonated ones like cola and Fanta.
Literally: “drinks + の + inside + では + I + は + cola + とか + Fanta + とか + の + carbonated drinks + が + liked + です.”

See that の that's underlined after the second とか? We include that because we want to say the noun 炭酸飲料, "carbonated drinks."

But it is also possible to change the final とかの to とかいった:

飲み物の中では私はコーラとかファンタとかいった炭酸飲料が好きです。
のみもの の なか で は わたし は コーラ とか ファンタ とか いった たんさんいんりょう が すき です。
As for drinks, I like carbonated ones like cola and Fanta.
Literally: “drinks + の + inside + では + I + は + cola + とか + Fanta + とか + いった + carbonated drinks + が + liked + です.”

I've never done this personally, but it can be done.


とかいった scares me, so let's backtrack and look at a classic とか sentence again:


私は新幹線とか飛行機とかでは眠れないタイプです。
わたし は しんかんせん とか ひこうき とか で は ねむれない タイプ です。
I’m the type of person that can’t sleep on (vehicles such as) bullet trains or airplanes.
Literally: “I + は + bullet train + とか + airplane + とか + では + can’t sleep + type + です.”


You might want to memorize that sentence as-is.

If you're anything like me, you'll have lots of chances to say it... after spending 20,000 hours on planes and trains being jealous of all the sleeping people. It's not fair!!


Sometimes とか is used in a critical way when discussing a person's fickle nature.

Like this:


千歌ちゃんはいつも、彼氏と別れるとか別れないとか言っている。
ちかちゃん は いつも、 かれし と わかれる とか わかれない とか いっている。
Chika-chan is always going back and forth between saying she will or won’t break up with her boyfriend.
Literally: “Chika-chan + は + always, + boyfriend + と + separate / break up + とか + won’t separate / break up + とか + is saying.”

One second Chika-chan is saying she's gonna break up with her boyfriend, and the next she's saying she won't break up with him, and she's always like this!

A quasi-literal translation might look like this: "She's always saying 'I'm gonna break up with him' and 'I'm not gonna break up with him,' and so on."

Here we have another instance of criticizing a person's shifting attitudes about something:

人を第一印象で好きとか嫌いとか言うのはやめなさい。
ひと を だいいちいんしょう で すき だ とか きらい だ とか いう の は やめなさい。
Stop saying that you like or dislike people based on your first impression of them.
Literally: “person + を + first impression + で + liked + だ + とか + disliked + だ + とか + say + のは + stop (=command).”


I already mentioned that we can put verbs before とか. And we've now seen verbs before とか in an earlier example.

When the verbs coming before とか are used to describe a method of doing something, though, we follow the final とか with して, as in this sentence:


前髪を切りすぎたので、結ぶとかピンでとめるとかしてごまかしています。
まえがみ を きりすぎた ので、 むすぶ とか ピン で とめる とか して ごまかしています。
I cut my bangs too short, so I’ve been hiding it by doing things like tying my hair back and putting it up with pins.
Literally: “bangs + を + cut too much + ので (=because), + tie + とか + pin + で + fasten + とか + do (and) + am varnishing over / am deceiving.”

And here's one more:

筆記用具を忘れた人は、友達に借りるとか、売店で買ってくるとかして下さい。
ひっきようぐ を わすれた ひと は、 ともだち に かりる とか、 ばいてん で かってくる とか して ください。
If you have forgotten writing utensils, please (do things such as) borrow them from a friend or go and buy them at a store.
Literally: “writing implements + を + forgot + person + は, + friends + に + borrow + とか, + shop + で + buy (and) + come + とか + do (and) + please.”

So if you're really trying to 100% master this grammar for your own use (and not just to pass a test), you might want to make a mental note: とかして is used when listing concrete examples of methods for doing something.


Japanese grammar books really get on my nerves sometimes.

Case in point: Multiple grammar books of mine explain the usage of とか described above (which is good), but neglect to describe the most useful usage of とか, which I use multiple times per day!

First thing to note: You can use とか a single time in a sentence, no problem.

Second thing to note: By only saying "NOUN + とか" and nothing else, you can say "things like NOUN."

An example:

A:
韓国料理好き?
かんこく りょうり すき?
Do you like Korean food?
Literally: "South Korea + cooking + liked?"

B:
韓国料理ってキムチとか
こんこく りょうり って キムチ とか?
By "Korean food," you mean like kimchi and stuff?
Literally: "South Korea + cooking + って + kimchi + とか?"

A:
うん。
Yeah.

B:
うん、好きだよ。
うん、 すき だ よ。
Yeah, I like it.
Literally: "yeah, + liked + だ + よ."

Now that is Japanese that I use every day.

For the record, I love Korean food, and I am proud to say that I know much more about it than Person B... though still not enough!




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