How to use “When” いつ 何時 in Japanese :Become the master of time and master いつ “when” and 何時 “what time” in Japanese.

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How to use “When” いつ 何時 in Japanese

How to use “When” いつ 何時 in Japanese | Learn Japanese Online

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s online Japanese lesson on expressing “when” and “what time” in Japanese. Today’s lesson is part of our basic question series so if you are looking to learn more essential question words, please feel free to check them out.

When did you come to Japan? What time does the movie start? When was the house built? These are all the types of questions we will be learning to ask today. We will be looking at how to form them as well as trying out some example sentences to help you remember the patterns.

 The word for “when” in Japanese is “いつ” “Itsu”. This is one of the first words you should have come across on your Japanese journey. If you do not yet know how to use this properly then you are in the right place. You should take the time to revise todays lesson too as you progress in your Japanese study as it is one of the fundamental question words that will help you massively in your speech and Japanese comprehension. We are going to start by looking and the basic sentence, asking, “When is it?”.

Asking when something is: A basic starting pattern

Let’s start with the basics. We need to first understand the basic pattern of creating the sentence “When is it” before creating more complex sentences. To say this we use

Itsu desu ka
When is it?

 It really is very simple. You don’t need any particles, you just simply need to add ですか after いつ to create the sentence. In informal situations you can even go one step further and just use いつ to ask the question “when?”

You can also take いつですか and add a topic to the beginning of it


When is X?

For example:

Sore wa itsu desu ka
When is that?
Tanjoubi wa itsu desu ka?
When is your birthday?

This is a really simple sentence formula you can follow to ask when something is. You should write out 6 – 8 sentences with this to practice and learn it well. We are now going to incorporate verbs into the pattern to see how that works to ask when actions have or will be done.

Asking when you will do/did something

When formulating a when sentence that uses verbs you stat with いつ at the beginning and then add the verb afterwards.

Itsu nihon ni ikumasu ka
When will go to Japan

Here we have いつ at the beginning of the sentence followed by the action and lastly followed by the question marker か.

Let’s have another look at a different example in the past tense.

Itsu asagohan wo tabemashita ka
When did you eat breakfast?

With the past tense, itsu doesn’t change, only the verb form changes into the past tense. This is one of those really versatile structures, that once you get the hang of, will become really useful to you in everyday Japanese ;language use.  

The last thing we are going to look at is how to ask when something starts / finishes. However we will not be using いつ for this structure, instead, we will be using 何時 nanji.

Asking what time something starts

Nanji, in Japanese, means “what time” and can be used instead of itsu to clafiry specific times. Take a look at the below examples.

Shigoto wa nan ji ni hajimarimasu ka
What time will your work start?

The sentences pattern starts by establishing the topic with は and then uses 何時に to ask what time, followed by the verb “to begin” 始まります。Lets look at another example to make sure you understand it.

Eiga wa nanji ni owarimasu ka
What time will the movie finish

You also put the か particle at the end with these sentences. You should also use に after 何時 in this case.

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Using いつ with other particles.

One of the most important things to note about “Itsu” is that it does NOT need a particle after it. There are other question words such as “doko” どこ that you can attach に and で to and “nani” that you can attach を to, but “Itsu” is always used as a standalone word that does not need the accompaniment of any other particles

Okay guys thanks for reading today’s online Japanese article on expressing “when” and “what time” in Japanese. As always we hope that you got a lot out of it and are motivated to learn more. If you have any questions or suggestions for future content, p[lease don’t hesitate to get in touch with your ideas. Have a great day everyone and until next time, またね。

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Japanese Question Words: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How