Friday, February 1, 2013

Asking a Question

Asking questions in Japanese is not difficult at all. You simply add か (ka) to the end of a sentence. Take for example the X は Y です format.

せんせいはきびしいです。(sensei wa kibishii desu)
The teach is strict.

Add か to the end of the sentence and you get:

せんせいはきびしいですか。(sensei wa kibishii desu ka)
Is the teacher strict?

That's pretty much all there is to it. Here are a few question words:

なに, なん (nani, nan) = what
どこ (doko) = where
いつ (itsu) = when
どうして (doushite) = why

There are two forms of "what," なに and なん. You use なに when it comes before a particle, and you use なん when it comes before a counter*, or です.

なにがおかしいですか。 (nani ga okashii desu ka)
What is (so) funny?

せんせいはなんさいですか。 (sensei wa nansai desu ka)
How old is (the) teacher?

なっとうはなんですか。 (nattou wa nan desu ka)
What is nattō?

*counters are used for when numbering things. The counter for age is -さい

That's all there really is to なに and なん. Make sure that when you ask a question in Japanese, you pronounce か with a rising tone, otherwise you'll sound monotone.

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