How to use とか (=toka)

toka

「マギー先生とかいう犬、知ってる?」

= Maggie Sensei toka iu inu shitteru?

= Do you know a dog called Maggie sensei or something?

Hi everyone!

Today’s guest teacher is Ella-sensei.

She is a one-year-old Norwegian Forest Cat.

According to her sister, Ella is a very cheerful kitten and is always running around the house. She also loves sleeping and wakes up with 寝癖= neguse=bed head.

How cute! !JYANE! 

それでは、Ella先生、よろしくお願いします!!

= Soredewa Ella Sensei yoroshiku onegai shimasu.

= OK, please start the lesson, Ella-Sensei!!

 

***************************

みなさん、はじめまして!Ellaです。

= Minasan, hajimemashite! Ella desu.

= Nice to meet you, everyone! I’m Ella.

My sister told me to help Maggie Sensei today. But to be honest, I don’t know who she is.

「マギー先生とかいう犬、知ってる?」

= Maggie Sensei toka iu inu shitteru?

= Do you know a dog called Maggie sensei or something?

Anyway, today I will teach you how to use とか ( = toka)

I will include some casual usages that you may not find in your textbooks.

 :pika: How/When to use:

1) When you list (the same kind of) multiple things.

!star! Basic structure:

AとかBとか

= A toka B toka

= A and/or B, etc. / Things like A and B/ Something like A and B

Note: A, B could be

noun / verb (dictionary form) / adjective

Ex. お寿司とか天ぷらとかが出ます。

= Osushi toka tenpura toka ga demasu.

= They will serve you sushi, tenpura and so on.

Ex. 彼のアパートは、汚いとか寒いとか文句ばかり言っていた。

= Kare no appato wa, kitanai toka samui toka monku bakari itte ita.

= He kept complaining, saying things like that apartment was dirty or too cold and so on.

Ex. やるとかやらないとかは後から決めて下さい。

= Yaru toka yaranai toka wa ato kara kimete kudasai.

= You can decide whether you will do it or not and so on later.

Ex. 美味しいとかまずいとか言わないでね。

= Oishii toka mazui toka iwanai dene.

= Don’t criticize saying things like it’s delicious or bad.

Ex. 東京に行ったら原宿とかアメ横とかに行ってみたい。

= Tokyo ni ittara Harakujuku toka Ameyoko toka ni itte mitai.

= When I go visit Tokyo, I would like to go to the places like Harajuku or Ameryoko.

Ex. 駅の売店にはお寿司とか日本茶とかが売っています。

= Eki no baiten niwa osushi toka nihon cha toka ga utteimasu.

= They sell things like Sushi and Japanese tea at stalls in the station.

Ex. A: 「どんな音楽をいつも聴いているの?」

= Donna ongaku wo itsumo kiite iruno?

= What kind of music do you usually listen to?

B: 「J-Popとかゲーム音楽とか聴いてるよ。」

= J-pop toka geimu ongaku toka kiiteruyo.

= I usually listen to the music such as J-pop, game music and etc.

Note: 聴いてるよ(=kiiteruyo)←Casual contraction of 聴いてるよ(=kiite iruyo)

Ex. アイスクリームとかケーキとかが食べたい。

= Aisukuriimu to ka keeki toka ga tabetai.

= I would love to eat sweet things such as ice cream or cake.

You sometimes just use one とか ( = toka)  in conversation.

Ex. アイスクリームとかケーキが食べたい。

= Aisukuriimu toka keeki ga tabetai.

= I want to eat something like ice cream or cake.

Ex. アイスクリームとか、食べたいな。(conversational)

= Aisukuriimu toka, tabetaina.

= I want to eat something like ice cream.

!yflower! The difference between とか (=toka) /(=to)/(=ya) / など (=nado)/ たり(=tari)

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. 

So let’s compare them. 

 !purplecandy! (=to)

Ex. アイスクリームケーキが食べたい。

= Aisukuriimu to keeki ga tabetai.

= I want to eat ice cream and cake.

 !to right! The difference: The speaker wants two specific things.

Ice cream and cake. That’s it.

 :pinkcandy2: や  (=ya)  / など(=nado)

things like ~, A and/or B, etc.

Ex. アイスクリームケーキが食べたい。

= Aisukuriimu ya keeki ga tabetai.

= I want to eat ice cream and cake, etc.

Ex. アイスクリームケーキなどが食べたいです。

= Aisukuriimu ya keeki ga tabetai desu.

= I would like to eat something like ice cream or cake.

 !to right!  The meaning of (=ya), など(=nado) and とか(=toka) are the same but the difference is:

(1) とか (=toka) is more conversational than (=ya) or など(=nado) .

(2) You don’t repeat (=ya) and など(=nado) twice.

 

Ex. りんごオレンジが好きです。

= Ringo ya orenji ga sukidesu.

You don’t say:

 :rrrr: りんごオレンジが好きです。

= Ringo ya orenji ya ga sukidesu)

りんごなどオレンジなどが好きです。

= Rigo nado orenji nado ga suki desu.

りんごオレンジ(など) が好きです。

= Ringo ya orenji (nado) ga suki desu.

(3) While you use とか (=toka) with verbs or adjective, you only (=ya) with nouns.

Ex. 1) わからない言葉があったら、辞書を引くとか先生に聞くとかすればいいのに。

= Wakaranai kotoba ga attara,  jisho wo hiku toka sensei ni kiku toka sureba iinoni.

= If there is a word that you don’t know, you should just check the meaning in your dictionary or ask your teacher.

 :rrrr:  You can’t say 引く(=hikuya) ・聞く(=kikuya)

!purplecandy! たり(=tari)

*When you list multiple verbs, you can also use たり (=tari)

Ex. 2) わからない言葉があったら辞書を引いたり先生に聞いたりすればいいのに。

= Wakaranai kotoba ga attara jisho wo hiitari sensei ni kiitari sureba iinoni.

Note: Ex.1) and 2) mean the same thing.

 !to right! The difference:

*休みの日は散歩したり本を読んだりしています。

= Yasumi no hi wa sanpo shitari hon wo yondari shiteimasu.

= I spend my day-off going for a walk, reading a book, etc.

is more natural than

*休みの日は散歩(をする)とか本を読むとかしています。

= Yasumi no hi wa sanpo (wo suru) toka hon wo yomu toka shiteimasu.

and again とか (=toka) is more casual/conversational.

I have a  lesson on たり(=tari) so if you want to learn more, go check the lesson.

 :rrrr: How to use たり(=tari)

2) When you quote what someone said.

:rrrr: S say(s)/ said things like ~

Ex. そういえば、彼はもうここには来ないとか言っていたなあ。(casual)

= Souieba, kare wa mou koko niwa konai toka itte itanaa.

= Speaking of which, he told me something like he wouldn’t come back here anymore.

Ex. 日本語はもう勉強したくないとか言わないでよ。(casual)

= Nihongo wa mou benkyou shitaku nai toka iwanai deyo.

= Don’t say things like you don’t want to study Japanese anymore.

Ex. もう彼女のことは愛してないとか言っちゃってるけど本当はまだ好きなんじゃない? (casual)

= Mou kanojo no koto wa aishite nai toka icchatterukedo hontou wa mada sukinan janai?

= You say something like you don’t love her anymore but I bet  you still like her.

Note: 言っちゃってる(=icchatteru) is a colloquial way to say  言っている(=itteiru.)

:u:  Sometimes you don’t quote the whole thing and just say,

Ex. とかなんとか言っちゃって、本当はまだ好きなんじゃないの?

= Toka nantoka icchatte, hontou wa mada sukinan janaino?

= That’s what you said but  you still have feelings for her, don’t you?

3) When you are uncertain about something, you leave the sentence unfinished with とか (=toka) (colloquial)

You suggest plausible possibilities or reasons in a subtle way.

Ex. A : 「彼、遅いね。」

= Kare osoi ne.

= He is late, isn’t he?

B : 「寝坊したとか…」

= Nebou shita toka…

= Maybe he slept late or something.

C: 「事故に遭ったとか…」

= Jiko ni atta toka…

= Or he might have had an accident or something…

Ex. Ella、最近、嬉しそうだね。彼氏が出来たとか

= Ella, saikin ureshisou dane.  Kareshi ga dekita toka.

= Ella, you look happy lately. You got a boyfriend  or something?

(It could be because you got a boyfriend or something?)

Ex.  ちょっとやせたけど、どうしたの?まさか、恋をしているとか…。

= Chotto yaseta kedo, doushitano? Masaka, koi wo shiteiru toka…

= You look skinny. What’s going on? Don’t tell me, are you in love or something?

4) To avoid sounding assertive (colloquial)~ or something

This とか  (=toka) doesn’t have any specific meaning but has functions as a way to soften the tone of one’s speech in some cases.
By adding とか (=toka), you can express something not too directly.

Young people especially tend to use this kind of とか (=toka).

E.  明日、暇?= Ashita hima?

= Are you free tomorrow?

:rrrr:Ex. 明日とか暇?

= Ashita toka hima?

= Are you free tomorrow (or something)?

Note: By adding とか(=toka),  it gives less pressure to the listener.

(It doesn’t have to be tomorrow but are you sort of free tomorrow?)

If you go visit your friend’s house and you don’t see any guest slippers,  instead of asking,

スリッパないの?

= Surippa naino?

= Do you have slippers? / Don’t you have slippers?

You should ask:

 :rrrr: スリッパとかないの?

= Surippa toka naino?

= Don’t you have slippers (or something)?

 sounds a little softer.

 

Ex. 彼女とかいる?

= Kanojo toka iru?

= Do you have a girlfriend (or something)?

Ex. 試験勉強とかしてる?

= Shiken benkyou toka shiteiru?

= Are you studying for the exams (or something)?

******************************
maggie-senseiギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

Ella先生、ありがとう!

= Ella Sensei, arigatou!

= Thank you, Ella Sensei!

「とか」の使い方わかりましたか?

= “Toka” no tsukaikata wakarimashitaka?

= Do you know how to use “toka”  now?

コメント欄とかTwitterとか使って練習してみてね。

=Komento ran to ka Twitter toka tsukatte renshuu shite mitene.

= Use the comment sections or Twitter and practice, OK?

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53 Comments

  1. Hi Maggie!
    Sorry that this isn’t exactly related to this specific lesson; I was going to ask this question on another lesson but I’ve had a problem with my screen tuning blue on your website.
    Anyways, how would you translate these lines?
    数の暴力
    言っちゃってよ そこもっと 精神性のショートショート
    I was thinking it was: “It’s just the tyranny of the masses, that I unfortunately said that. It’s a more spiritual short short (circuit).”
    My problem was mainly how to translate the そこもっと. I translated そこ as that, which my dictionary said was technically correct, but I’m not sure if what I have is the intended meaning?
    Thank you.

    1. @Smoothie Made of Fruit

      Hello, it is a line from an anime?
      I will just help you the part you don’t get.
      言っちゃってよ そこもっと

      Reverse the order
      そこもっと、言っちゃってよ

      Just tell them* about that more.
      (*It depends on who the speaker is talking to)

      1. It’s from a song. Actually, I’m trying to translate it for my Youtube channel – is it okay if I post that line that you translated? I’ll give you credit, of course.

        Okay, that makes more sense! For future reference, how could you tell that もっと went with 言っちゃって?

        Thank you!

        1. @Smoothie Made of Fruit

          Of course you can use the line I helped. (I don’t do the translation so you don’t need to give me any credit. You may want to have someone to help the other lines..I don’t understand what you meant by 精神性〜〜 part. )
          You sometimes reverse the order of words in Japanese, which is called 倒置(とうち= inversion) (Especially in lyrics, story, poem, etc.)

          1. Okay, thank you!
            I had thought that the 精神性 part meant that the person had a spiritual short circuit, as in there is something wrong with their spirituality. Does that sound correct to you?

  2. I wass reading Facebook comment it said: このクマ??色使いとかいいね。

    it was about i pink bear mascot character i think lol

    Does that mean:Is this a bear?I like its color.._.._ whats the function of toka?
    Make it sound more polite

    1. このクマ? Is this the bear you are talking about? / ” This is it?”
      The actual meaning of 色使い is “use of color” but as you translated the color is just fine.
      とか here is the usage 4). (and so on, stuff) It is just a soft way to say I like its color

  3. Hi! I have a question: What does “koko toka” (こことか) mean? Google translator gives me a nonsensical answer and I already search the internet but nothing. Help me, please :c

    Sorry for my bad english xd

    1. @Hitomi

      Hi Hitomi,
      The literal meaning is
      ここ – here
      とか = and etc.
      But it is hard to say without knowing the context.
      Ex.
      A: 〜はどこにあるかな? = I wonder where X is…
      B: こことか、あそことか探した? Did you look here or there and so on?

  4. 天気予報によると、明日は雨だそうだから、雨がないとかの場所に行ってはどうですか。
    え~と、私のアパートとか、映画とかはどうだ?

    the weather forcast said its going to rain tomorrow,so how about we go a place wheres there no rain.__….Hmmmmm._.._like my apartment or the movie theaters?

    Correct in hiragana please.Im sure my Japanese is incorrect. (Thanks for all your lessons)

    1. 雨がないとかの→雨(あめ)が降(ふ)らない場所に(or へ)行(い)ってはどうですか?
      Since you used とか, you can also say 場所とかに(or へ)行(い)ってはどうですか?
      Note: 行ってはどうですか?means “Why don’t you go to ~ ?” and the speaker is not involved.
      But the second speaker suggested his/her apartment. So
      行きませんか? / (casual) 行かない? would be better.

      え~と、私のアパートとか、映画とかはどうだ?
      → 1)え〜と is used when you are thinking. If you suggest some idea, you say それなら (then)
      2)どうだ? is a male speech and sounds blunt. The first speaker used どうですか? so you should use
      どうですか? or どう?(less casual)

  5. Maggie, I’ve got two more quick questions for you :pika:
    1. About とか and やら.
    My book says 『「AやらBやら」はA、Bを例示して「A、B、その他いろいろある」という意味を表す並立助詞の用法です。ほぼ同義文型に「~とか~とか」がありますが、これは全体の中から代表例を選ぶ点に重点があります。』
    Q: This これは is linked to 「AやらBやら」 or to 「~とか~とか」?

    2. About やいなや.
    One of my book says that: 「自分のことには使えない」, but I found many examples in an online English-Japanese sentence dictionary, like:
    私が乗り込むやいなや、汽車は動き出した。
    私がそうするやいなや雨が降り出した。
    私は家に着くやいなや寝た。

    So what’s the truth?

    1. @天人

      Hello again!

      1. これ refers to 「~とか~とか」

      Additional inf. やら is often used to describe some different things, feelings get all mixed up.

      Ex. その話を聞いたとき、嬉しいやら悲しいやら複雑な思いだった。

      Also it is often used to show your negative emotions.

      Ex. 床には脱ぎ捨てた洋服やら食べ残したゴミやらが散らばっていた。

      2. We do use やいなや to describe your own actions as your example sentences.
      But you have to see the second action objectively.

      Verb (A) するやいなや Verb (B)
      These two actions happens almost simultaneously
      The verb (B) can’t be volitional or assumption.
      Xするつもりだ
      Xするでしょう

      1. Thank you very much for the additional info. That was very helpful :purple:

        And how about this sentence → 私はお金をもらうや否や貯金します。
        This was considered as the wrong one.
        Maybe in the second part of the sentence must be something which cannot be controlled by the speaker?

          1. Mhmm, I see. Very good!
            OK, now I can continue my journey with 日本語 !happyface!
            Many thanks Maggie!

  6. Hello マギー, long to no see, how have you been?
    Today during my grammar studies I came across a very interesting construction, namely 動詞…や…動詞の.
    I’ve got a few question regarding this topic, because the explanation in my book still leaves some doubts, which only you can dispel :)

    1. This pattern combines sometimes with imperative form of a verb (EX. 飲めや歌えの忘年会) and sometimes with the dictionary form (EX. 殴るや蹴るの暴行). The question is, if the are any rules, or can I combine them as I want?

    2. My book says that this pattern 「慣用語を作りますが、そのまま語彙として覚えた方がいいでしょう。」 but gives only a few examples, such as 食うや食わずの/飲めや騒げの/一度や二度の/殴るや蹴るの. Could you make up more examples for me, please?

    3. Please check my translations.
    飲めや歌えの忘年会 a drink-and-sing-till-you-gonna-fall-down-year-end party (hmm, or maybe just “a hardcore year-end party”?)
    食うや食わずの生活 living on the verge of poverty
    殴るや蹴るの暴行 an act of violence where someone gets hit and kicked (hmm, I think this needs a correction, because it’s too long…)

    !! If you have a translation that fits better than mine, then please correct it. !!

    4. あの日は飲めや歌えの忘年会になってね、大変な盛り上がりようだったよ。 「大変な盛り上がりようだった」 = it seemed it was something really big! (=the party was really lively) という翻訳、合ってるかな。

    お返事をわくわくしながら待っています。
    よろしく!

    1. @天人

      こんにちは、天人さん!お久しぶりですね。

      1. 2.
      A: action X や action Yのnoun

      to describe some extreme situations or commotions using the main actions.

      飲めや歌えの忘年会 ・大騒ぎ
      殴るや蹴るの暴行・行為

      B: 食うや食わずの生活
      affirmative form + negative form ~ず+の+noun : to express the extreme condition/state

      As your book says, this patten is usually used in a set phrase and you don’t just combine random words.

      For example, it might be possible to say
      カラオケで歌うや運動するストレス解消法

      but I wouldn’t say that. It sounds more natural to say
      カラオケで歌ったり運動したりするストレス解消法

      4.Translation: Your translation is just fine.

      the party one could be…
      It seemed like the year end party turned out to be a blast. Everybody sang and danced and they all had a good time.

      1. Thank you very much Maggie! :qq:
        This pattern is now marked as completed. Today I also completed が故に、もの故に and 故あって.
        I hope you are proud of me ^^v
        またね~ :maggie-small:

  7. Hello, Sensei.
    I love your site so much because it is very useful not only for me but for everyone who want to learn Japanese. :grin:
    Thanks so much for your effort. !CHECKHEART!
    Chan

    1. @Victor Chan

      Hello Victor Chan!
      Thank you for your nice comment!!
      I’ll do my best making more and more lessons for everyone!
      ありがとう! :maggie-small: boucingheart!

  8. Ohhh, this site is really amazing… I’ve spent the last few days reading through the site! I had a question about とか in this dialogue:

    A: じゃあ雨の日だからこそこう行きたくなるところとか、
     行っちゃうとこ、思わず行っちゃうところとかあります?
    B: 雨の日とかはカフェとか行ってますね。

    Is it just the ‘softening’ とか being used? Or is it just a filler word like なんか?

    1. @Yuu

      Hi Yuu,
      A: じゃあ雨の日だからこそこう行きたくなるところとか(1) 、
       行っちゃうとこ、思わず行っちゃうところとか(2) あります?
      B: 雨の日とかはカフェとか(3)行ってますね。
      (1) and/or (2) etc (3) somewhere like..

  9. Hi Maggie Sensei! Just wondering if it was correct to say or use this:

    verb+たり+verb+たり+することなどをします

    Is it alright to use など after たり form?

    1. @Sarah
      Hi Sarah,
      Hmmm
      verb+たり+verb+たり+することなどをします
      First the form is not natural because it has two different verb forms,
      verb + たり form and Verb (する)こと
      Also it sounds redundant because たり already has a connotation of “Doing A and B and etc” and など also means “-and etc.”
      However, I would say if you don’t use V+こと form , it is possible to use たり with など in conversation.

      Ex. パーティーでは食べたり、飲んだり、ゲームをするなどして楽しんだ。

  10. OH! I already studied this lesson, and I even commented on it! I completely forgot, hahaha. But it was nice to study it again. In any case, I am still note sure about this sentence:

    税金は高いとか、大都市は汚いとか、そんな悩みがたくさんあるんだ

    It seems like there isn’t anything wrong… Guess I am just not sure if とか is the best choice here.

    Thanks again

    1. @reid

      Hi reid,
      Welcome back to this lesson. :wink:

      税金は高いとか、大都市は汚いとか、そんな悩みがたくさんあるんだ
      Did you make this sentence?

      Looks fine to me.
      It is a subtle thing but you may want to change は with が
      税金が高いとか、〜 to emphasizes the tax.

      1. Yes, I made it. Thanks for confirming it is correct! I guess I was just unsure if it was okay to use toka here. When I showed it to a japanese friend of mine she replaced toka with shi like this:

        税金は高いし、大都市は汚いし

        So I was unsure if it was because toka was incorrect or just her personal preference, hahaha.

        Thanks again

        1. @reid

          When you list out things you can also use し
          You use し when you simply connect more than two things or when you emphasize the reason more.
          税金は高いし、大都市は汚いし+result/ what you are going to do/conculusion

          Since your sentence simply giving some examples of your concerns, とか works fine.
          The sentence is very conversational but very natural.

  11. Hello Maggie-sensei! How are you? I hope you are fine.
    I just have a question about “toka” usage.
    I’m just having a hard time understanding how “toka” is used in this sentence:
    日本に旅行とか行くの?
    How was is used in this kind of sentence?

    Thank you so much, Maggie-sensei!

    1. @Ritsuko

      Hello, Ritsuko!! I’m good! Thank you for asking! :)

      日本に旅行とか行くの?

      This とか has is the usage that I explained in 4)
      Do you sometimes go to Japan or something?
      4) To avoid sounding assertive (colloquial) : ~ or something

      This とか (=toka) doesn’t have any specific meaning but has functions as a way to soften the tone of one’s speech in some cases.
      By adding とか (=toka), you can express something not too directly.

      So the speaker could have asked
      旅行に行くの?
      but by using とか, it soften the question.
      It is a very colloquial usage.

      Young people especially tend to use this kind of とか (=toka).

      1. oooooh! I see! That’s why. Thank you so much for all the help Maggie-sensei!

        Honestly, ever since I knew about your site, I have been improving on self-studying about the Japanese language! I have been taking notes all the time! I hope you’ll love and continue what you’re doing! I’m very glad!! Thank you so much Maggie-sensei!

  12. 使い方の4)を知らなかった :O 便利になるだろう =D
    3)の例で「とか」と「かな」を置き換えることができますか?意味は同?例えば、「寝坊したとか…」と「寝坊したかな…」の違いは何ですか?
    それは、「可能性」vs「Wondering](自問自答?日本語で知らない :P)のようなものですか? ありがとう! 

    1. @Humberto

      こんにちは、Humberto!
      3)の例で「とか」と「かな」を置き換えることができますか?
      はい、できます。
      意味は大体同じですが、「とか」は、考えられる理由をあげるとき(giving a plausible reason, Ex. It could be because….) 。「かな」はその考えついた理由についてどうかなあと思うときにに使います。(when you wonder that plausible reason)

  13. お久しぶり、マギー先生! 元気でしたか?
    いい「とか」の使い方のレッスンをずっと待っていた!どこにも見つけれなかったからね…
    だからありがとうございます!すごく嬉しい!^^
    最近翻訳するために時間がなくてごめんね。毎日毎日したかったのに、いつも忙しい :cryingboy:
    次のは作成中です!覚悟してくださいね〜

    1. @Marianne

      こんにちは、Marianne!!! お久しぶりです!
      「とか」のレッスンはよくリクエストされていましたがやっとできました。
      翻訳、いつもありがとう!!でも前にも言ったように無理しないで大丈夫ですよ。
      毎日、忙しそうですが、体に気をつけてくださいね。À bientôt!

  14. Thanks again! I just have 2 little questions:

    Why do you use 聴く instead of 聞く? Is it by choice or is it wrong to use 聞く?

    Can I use と and など together instead of using や or it always has to be や and など?

    1. @reid

      Hello reid!
      1) 聞く is the most general kanji and you can write 聞く. But it is more common to use the kanji 聴く for the music.
      →When you hear something (naturally/ happened to hear something) you use the kanji, 聞く and when you listen to something/someone carefully, such as music, lecture or some audio books, etc. you use 聴く.

      2) など has a meaning of “etc.” and you use と for something specific. Therefore AとBなど sounds a little strange.
      I would use AやBなど

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