How to use the various “Why” なぜ なんで in Japanese : Why are you here? Perhaps to learn how to use “Why” in Japanese? Why of course you are in the right place. Hey everyone, today we are going to use how to use “Why” in Japanese.

Learn Japanese – 5W1H – Japanese Question Words – What,Where,When,Who,Why,How

There are a few different ways to say why in Japanese and today we are going to look at 3 specifically, Naze なぜ, どうして Doushite and なんでNande. It sounds like it could be confusing but please don’t worry, we will learn each one separately and break down there usages. So if you are ready guys lets get down to it and start learning “Why”.

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WHY WHY WHY? How to use the various “Why’s” in Japanese

First, it’s important to understand that these words, when it comes down to it, actually all mean the same thing, “why”. Just like in English we can use, phrases like “why” and “how come” with essentially the same meaning and in the same situation. All of these 3 can also be interchanged most of the time. We would like to point out though that なぜ naze, is slightly more formal than the rest.

Let’s move right into how to use each of these. We would suggest focusing more on how to use each of these words rather than focussing too much on the super subtle differences.

Naze なぜ The First Why

In Japanese, most sentences start with “Why” for example.

なぜそうしたんですか。
Naze shitan desu ka
Why did you do that?

This is a nice simple structure to ask somebody why they did something. As you can see, you don’t need a particle after なぜ naze and you can jump straight into the sentence. But it’s not always the case that なぜ naze is at the front of the sentence. Let’s have a look at a few more where naze isn’t placed directly at the front.

あなたはなぜ働いているの。
Anata wa naze haiteiru no
Why are you working?

Perhaps it’s a Saturday and you are wondering why your friend is working. In this sentence you can see that the は particle is first marking the topic. With this it means we are asking the question about the topic.

Remember that なぜ naze itself doesn’t need a particle, so it’s actually quite easy to start using straight away. Let’s have a look at the next “why” to see how that works.

Doushite どうして The Second Why

How to use the “Why” なぜ なんで in Japanese

Starting simply, どうして doushite can be used on it’s own as a stand alone phrase to mean “why”.

A: 本当に悲しいです
B: どうして
A: Hontou ni kanashii desu
B: Doushite
A: I’m so sad
B: Why?

So in this situation, and most situations, you can use it as a stand alone word. However to make this more formal you can add ですか “desu ka” to the end.  

Now let’s have a look at another, longer example and checkout the usage.

どうしてこんなに暑いのですか
Doushite konnani atsui desu ka
Why is it so hot?

Just like Naze, you don’t have to use a particle with doushite which makes it super simple to use. Also it is mostly used at the beginning of sentences. Finally let’s move onto our last “why” of the day “Nande”.

Nande なんで The Final Why

Finally, we have arrived at the final why “Nande” let’s jump right in.

You’ve probably guessed it already, you can use なんで on its own just like どうして and you can also add ですか to the end of the word to make it more formal too. You also don’t need particels after “nande” too.

なんで東京に行く?
Nande Toukyou ni iku?
Why are you going to Tokyo?

Most of the time, if you are using a why question, you do not need to use the particle か ka (the question marker) at the end of the sentence.

So in summary, all of the question words in today’s lesson can be totally interchangeable. Yes, the levels of formality are slightly different, however, it’s very subtle. You will learn this through trial and error and through getting more used to the language. 

Well guys that brings us to the end of today’s online Japanese lesson. We really hope you have enjoyed the lesson and have learnt something new. If you are looking for more of these question words, we have more available across our other blogs for you to check out.

If you have any suggestions of new content that you would like to see, please let us know in the comments and we will make sure we will look at those for you. We are always looking at how we can deliver the best content and topics for you guys at home. 

Keep studying, keep doing you best and never give up on your dreams. Have a great day everyone and we will see you in the next online Japanese lesson. Until next time. 

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