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Asking Questions in Japanese

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

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こんにちは, everyone! Welcome back to Teach Me Japanese.

Today we are going to learn how to ask questions in Japanese.




何(なに)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- what

なんで ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- why; what for; how

なぜ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ why; how

誰(だれ)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- who

どれ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ which(three or more)

どこ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ where

どの ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ which(specific)

どっち ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- which way; which(of two)

どちら ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- which way; which one; who

どう ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ how

どんな ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- what; what kind of

どんなに -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- how much

どうやって --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- how; in what way

~か ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ question particle

~の ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ explanatory particle


Asking Questions in Casual/Plain Form


Questions can be phrased either using question words or not, depending on what you want to ask:



--------->What is Candy-chan's favorite snack?

*(It's strawberry ^^)*



--------->Are you going to the party tomorrow?

Questions, whether they have a question word or not, have an inflection in speech. Like in English, you raise your tone at the end of your sentence to let others know you are asking a question.

In written Japanese, you can indicate a question by adding either a question mark (?) or question particle to the end of your sentence. Question particle in casual speech is different from that in polite speech as it is usually only used when you are "wondering" about something or posing a question to yourself.


--->Is that so?/ I see (rhetorical)

can also be used as in invitation to the other party to do something.



--------->Shall we go?



---------->Won't you eat a meal with me?

In spoken Japanese, you can also use particle at the end of a question sentence, indicating that you are asking for an explanation.



---------->How can I get there?


Asking Questions in Polite/ます form


Asking questions in polite form simply involves adding question particle at the end of the sentence.



---------->Where are you?



----------->Who are you?

*more polite version of 誰ですか。*

It is worth noting that in polite form when 何 comes just before です the reading changes from なに to なん.



----------->What is your favorite movie, Tanaka-san?

You can also combine with negative form to extend invitations politely.



----------->Won't you go on a date with me this weekend?


Asking questions in another language can seem quite intimidating, but the good news is that you don't have to change much about a sentence in Japanese to make it into a question sentence.

Speaking of questions, don't forget to leave yours below! (And if you're feeling fancy, try leaving a question in Japanese)

That's it for today. If you're still looking for a good beginner's textbook, make sure to check out the Genki Series, and also our resources tab for even more fun ways to study Japanese.

As always, がんばってね!


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