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Questions and Question Words

How to make Questions and a few common Question words

Questions in Japanese image

10 MINUTE LESSON RULES: 1. read each example outloud several times. 2. Pay close attention to the notes.

In this lesson we will look at how to make a question in Japanese. There are 2 main ways of doing so. 1) add a か ka to a statement, or 2) use a question word (in English — who, what, why…).

A Prelude…
BEFORE THE LESSON YOU NEED TO KNOW…

始めましょう! Let’s begin…

CONTENTS:
1. Using か ka
2. Using the question words

1) Using か ka

NOTE: ka is a very useful little syllable. Think of it as a ? question mark.

KEY SENTENCE: Please repeat several times:

あなたは 日本人 です か?
anata wa nihonjin desu ka?
Are you Japanese?
NOTE: I used a question mark after the ka , but sometimes ‘real’ Japanese doesn’t have it. Also the は is pronounced as wa when used as a particle even though it is a hiragana ha .

Let’s start with a statement:

あなたは 日本人 です
anata wa nihonjin desu.
You are Japanese. [statement]

[now without changing any word, add the ka and see what happens]

あなたは 日本人 です か?
anata wa nihonjin desu ka.
Are you Japanese? [question]

[All we did was add the ka ]

MORE EXAMPLES:

QUESTION ANSWER
おいしい です か?
oishii desu ka?
Is that delicious? [actually there is no ‘that’ in the sentence]
おいしい です。
oishii desu.
It is delicious. [this is a statement & could also be an answer: also there is no it : lit: “delicious is”]
おもしろい です か?
omoshiroi desu ka?
Is that interesting? [the topic could be a book, a movie, or anything]
おもしろい です。
omoshiroi desu.
It is interesting.

2) Using the question words

NOTE: The second way is to use question words (why, who, how…) just like in English.

THE MOST COMMON QUESTION WORDS:
In the example sentences I have used ~desu ka? But very simply you can just say doko? Where?

どこ doko – where

どこ です か?
doko desu ka?
Where is it?
えきは どこ です か?
eki wa doko desu ka?
Where is the (train) station?
[simply use this format: ~ wa doko desu ka? Where is ~ ?

だれ dare – who

だれ です か?
dare desu ka?
Who is it?
かれは だれ です か?
kare wa dare desu ka?
Who is he?

いつ itsu – when

いつ です か?
itsu desu ka?
When is it?
いつ いきます か?
itsu ikimasu ka?
When are you going?

どうして doushite – why

どうして です か?
doushite desu ka?
Why?

なに nani [when used as a stand-alone question word or as the last word in a sentence] & なん nan [when used together within a sentence] – what

なん です か?
nan desu ka?
What is it?

なに?
nani ?
What?

なんじ です か?
nan ji desu ka?
What time is it?

来た、見た、勝った。
kita, mita, katta
“I came, I saw, I conquered!” 

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