Asking Questions in Japanese

There are many ways to ask questions in Japanese and it usually differs when we speak formally and casually. Check the list below to learn the words.

Number Formal Casual
What 何(なに)、

何(なん)ですか

Why なぜ、どうして どうして、なんで
Where どこ どこ
When いつ いつ
How いかにして、どのように、どうして どうして

 

As you can see, learning them can be a little more complicated than learning English. Let’s check the examples for each of the words.

What

        “What do you want to eat?” → 「何が食(た)べたいですか。」

        “What is your dream?” → 「あなたの夢(ゆめ)は何ですか。」

Note that 何ですか is used when we use the word what at the end of the sentence.

Why

       “Why are you wearing a jacket when it is so hot outside?”

       → 「こんなに外(そと)は暑(あつ)いのに なんで/どうして ジャケットを着(き)てるの?」

Where

       “Where are we meeting up tomorrow?” → 「明日(あした)はどこで会(あ)う?」

When

       “When is the library going to close?” → 「図書館(としょかん)はいつ閉(し)まるの?」

Remember that these words come after the subject (place, object, time) comes first.

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