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100 GRAMMAR POINTS

6. Question Words

By mastering these question words, your conversational skills will be much stronger!


いつ (itsu) – when

いつ きました か?

  • itsu kimashita ka?
  • When did you come?
  • [literally “when came?” Notice the “you” is understood.]

どこ (doko) – where

どこ から きました か?

  • doko kara kimashita ka?
  • Where did you come from?
  • [literally “where from came?”]

どうして (doushite) – why

どうして きました か?

  • doushite kimashita ka?
  • Why did you come?
  • [literally “why came?”]

なぜ (naze) – why

なぜ

  • naze?
  • Why?
  • [used in the same way as doushite]

だれ (dare) – who

だれが きました か。

  • dare ga kimashita ka?
  • Who came?
  • [The ga marks dare as the focus: Who came?]

何 (nani) – what

なに を 買いました か。

  • nani o kaimashita ka.
  • What did you buy?
  • [The o marks the direct object.]

You can do a lot more with 何, see here.


Main points

  • Even with the question word a か ka is used. (Except in casual spoken Japanese.)
  • The question word is at the beginning, but after the は wa if there is one.

あなた は だれ です か?

  • anata wa dare desu ka?
  • Who are you?
  • [The question word dare is after the wa]

For more on this please see our “Questions and Question Words” guide.

100 GRAMMAR POINTS

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1 Comment

  1. Pasi Rahko

    And here are a few more question words I have encountered in my Japanese studies:

    Ikura (いくら) – how much?

    Ikutsu (いくつ) – how many?

    Dare no (だれの) – whose?
    Dare no inu wa desu ka (whose dog is it?)

    Docchi (どっち) – which one?
    Ocha ka koohii, docchi ga ii? (tea or coffee, which one do you like?)
    [Note: “ka” also means “or”]

    Donna (どんな) – what kind of?

    Ikaga (いかが) – how?
    Dou (どう) – how?
    [used in more casual ways than “ikaga”]

    Reply

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