5/26 Beginner Japanese (2) Question Sentences


先週は、「X は Y です。」を勉強しました。
Last week, we learned how to say X is Y.

Today, we will learn how to form question sentences in Japanese.

Knowing how to ask questions is very important in everyday conversation.

For example, let’s say you’re on a date with Japanese boy or girl. As long as you ask questions, they will be happy! (Even if you don’t understand their responses.)

People like to be asked questions about themselves. Aren’t you the same?

So, let’s get started with today’s lesson.


(1) Yes/ No Questions

For formal yes/no questions, all you need to do is add「か」to the end of your sentence.

(I am) Japanese

(Are you) Japanese?

The above example is for formal language (です/ます).

For casual Japanese, the intonation at the end of questions rises, with no need to add「か」.

Is Hanako Japanese?

Yes, (she is) Japanese.

If you add「か」to the end of a casual sentence, like “花子は日本人か?”, it can come across as rude or rough.
However, I sometimes think it can sound funny. That can get a bit complicated.
For now, we should stick with not adding「か」to casual sentences.

(2) “What” “Where” “When” “Who” “Why” “How” (Non “Yes/No” Questions)

In English, we almost always have the question word at the front of the sentence. However, Japanese question words simply take the place of what you are trying to figure out. This can be seen in the examples below.

What – なに(なん)

What is your major?

(formal) せんこう は なん ですか?
(casual) せんこう は なに?

* In Japanese, “your” is often omitted when it’s obvious you’re talking about the listener.

What time is it?

(formal) なん じ ですか?
(casual) 何時(なんじ)?

Where – どこ

Where is your dog?

(formal) 犬(いぬ)は どこ ですか?
(casual) 犬(いぬ)は どこ?

When – いつ

When is your Birthday?

(formal) 誕生日(たんじょうび)は いつ ですか?
(casual) 誕生日(たんじょうび)は いつ?

Who- どなた(だれ)

Who are you?

(formal) どなた ですか?
(casual) だれ?

Why – なぜ(どうして)

Why are you Romeo?

(formal) なぜ ロミオ ですか?
(casual) どうして ロミオ?

How – どう

How is your study?

(formal) 勉強(べんきょう)は どう ですか?
(casual) 勉強(べんきょう)は どう?


So, let’s remember some everyday vocabulary and practice what we’ve learned!

Are you American?

(formal) あなたは、アメリカ人ですか?
(casual) アメリカ人?

what is your favorite movie?

(formal) あなた の すきな 映画(えいが)は なん ですか?
(casual) すきな 映画(えいが)は なに?

Where is your favorite place?

(formal) あなた の すきな 場所(ばしょ)は どこ ですか?
(casual) すきな 場所(ばしょ)は どこ?

When is your summer vacation?

(formal) あなた の 夏休み(なつやすみ)は いつ ですか?
(casual) 夏休み(なつやすみ)は いつ?

Who is your teacher?

(formal) あなた の 先生(せんせい)は どなた ですか?
(casual) 先生(せんせい)は だれ?

Why is it already 12pm?

(formal) なぜ もう 午後12時 ですか?
(casual) どうして もう 午後12時?

How is the weather?

(formal) 天気(てんき)は どう ですか?
(casual) 天気(てんき)は どう?


That’s it for today!

I will do Beginner Live Lesson (3) at the same time, same place, next week!

So, see you next week!