We Japanese Language School: Basic Japanese questions

While at the beginner level of a language, it often happens to us when we don’t know what we are asked. Sometimes, we meet new people, and they try to ask basic questions. However, they’re not aware of our personal level, so sometimes the line of questions gets difficult. At some point, we are left with an awkward silence in the conversation and wonder, ‘I wish I could understand what he/she said!’. So, how do I ask basic Japanese questions?

For such happenings, there are some small observations that can help us comprehend the situation. Let’s think about WH words: who, what, where, when, and why. In English, from these WH words, we can somewhat imagine what the person will ask, even before he completes his sentence, right? It’s the same for the Japanese. They also have their own WH words! Luckily, they use them in the first part of the sentence as well.

In this guide, we will see how to ask and answer basic questions in Japanese, following the WH words.

1. Who: 誰・だれ

First of all, "who" is dare ・ だれ. Use it to refer to people, without a distinction in gender or number.

In addition, remember the word donata・どなた, which is its formal counterpart. Here are some examples:

あの人はだれですか。(informal)Ano hito wa dare desuka?Who is that person?
あの方はどなたですか。 (formal*)Ano kata wa donata desuka?Who is that person?
*In Japanese, words change based on the formal or informal style you are using. For example, あの人 becomes あの方 if you want to be formal.

After だれ and どなた, you can add particles to create interrogative pronouns or other parts of the speech you need to be more specific.

If you are a beginner and don't know how important they are, check this article about how to use the main Japanese particles.

これはだれの本ですか。Kore wa dare no hon desuka?Whose book is this?
だれもいいから、手伝ってほしい。Daremo ii kara, tetsudatte hoshii. Anyone who can help would be welcomed.
だれと話していたか。Dare to hanashiteitaka?Who were you talking to?

2. What: 何・なに

This is probably the most popular Japanese word in the world due to Kenshiro's famous sentence: 「お前はもう死んでいる」 「⁉」(omaewa mou shindeiru - Nani!? ・ You're already dead. - What!?)

However, this interrogative adverb has 2 pronunciations, depending on what follows it: Nan / Nani. Use it to refer to objects and animals without distinction in gender or number.

してるの?Ima nani shiteiruno?What are you doing?
何時ですか。Ima nanji desuka?What time is it?
これ、何語ですか。Kore, nanigo desuka?What language is this?
お父さんの仕事はですか。Otousan no shigoto wa nandesuka?What's your father's job?
あれはですか。 ゴリラです。Are wa nandesuka? Gorira desu.What is that? It's a gorilla.

3. Where: どこ

どこ (doko): If you can pick the word どこ from someone’s question, it means they’re asking for a location. It can be about you, or something around you, or related to you. You can also use this to ask about location in times of need.

大学はどこですか。Daigaku wa doko desuka?Where is the university?
明日どこで勉強しますか。Ashita dokode benkyoushimasuka?Where will you study tomorrow?

4. When: いつ

いつ (itsu) is pretty easy too. It means "when" and can be followed only by a few particles. For example, いつか - itsuka, means "some time", or it can refer to something already done once (before, once). いつでも - itsudemo, means "always, any time".

日本語試験はいつですか。Nihongo shiken wa itsu desuka?When will the Japanese language exam occur?
いつ出発しますか。Itsu shuppatsushimasuka?When are you leaving?
またいつか会うね。Mata itsuka aune.Let's see again sometime.
この道はいつか来た道です。Kono michi wa itsuka kita michi desu.This is the path we took before.
いつでも電話ください。Itsudemo denwa kudasai.Call me any time.

5. Why: なぜ・どうして

Finally, the last WH word. なぜ (naze) is the one to ask "Why".

なぜ日本へきましたか。 Naze nihon he kimashitaka?Why did you come to Japan?
なぜ立っているの」 「席がないからです」Naze tatteiru no? Seki ga nai karadesu.Why are you standing? Because there are no vacant seats.

As you can see, there's no need for a word to say "because" in the answer. However, be careful with the other "why" word: どうして.

In fact, どうして (doushite) has 2 meanings: can you guess the slight difference from the context?

  • the first one is "why", and is used as なぜ, but more in the speaking.
  • the second meaning is "how".
どうしてダメなの?Doushite dame nano?Why not?
どうしてそんなに怒っているのですか。Doushite sonnani okotteiru no desuka?Why are you so mad?
そんなことがどうしてわかるの?Sonna koto ga doushite wakaru no?How do you know that?
どうして彼女と知り合いのですかDoushite kanojo to shiriai no desuka?How did you get to know her?

In conclusion, just like these, from observing what the other person is saying, we can detect the WH word and guess what they’re asking when we only know the meaning of some fragments of the sentence. However, it doesn’t mean we can always guess right, for that practicing sentence making, conversing, and learning new words are a must.

Thank you for reading!

Author: Valeria (graduated from Ca’Foscari University Japanese Studies)

0 thoughts on “Basic Japanese Questions: How to Easily Ask and Answer

  1. Hallie says:

    Hurraһ, that's what I wass seeking for, what a material!
    existing here at this bⅼog, thanks admin of tһis web

    1. We are very glad you found our blog article useful. You can check our newest articles here: https://we-japan.com/category/blog/ with a focus of learning Japanese language and culture.

  2. Jetta says:

    I have been browsing on-line more than three houгs
    lately, yеt I by no means dіscoᴠered any attention-grabbing article like yоuгs.
    It is lovely valuе sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and blοggers made good cⲟntent as you probably ɗid, the
    internet will be a lott more useful than ever before.

  3. Lucretia says:

    Hеy there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an estabⅼished blog.
    Iѕ it hard to set up your ownn blog? I'm nott very techincal
    bbut I can fgure things ⲟut prettʏ fast.
    Ι'm thinkking aboujt setting up my own but I'm not sure where to start.
    Do you have any ideas oor suggestions? Appreciate it

  4. jamutogel says:

    Tһis site was... howw do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something
    which helpe me. Thanks!

  5. lasertest says:

    Hello to every one, it's actually a pleasant for me to go to see this site, it contains valuable Information.

  6. lasertest says:

    Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There's a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your
    content. Please let me know. Many thanks

    1. Hi! We are very glad you liked our blog, you can go ahead and share our blog article with your twitter group. We wish you a great Japanese language learning journey.

  7. lasertest says:

    Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. This
    is a very well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your helpful info.
    Thank you for the post. I'll definitely comeback.

  8. Biondella says:

    Hello t᧐o every single one, it's truly a ρleasant for me to visit this site, it contains valuable

  9. apk jamuslot says:

    This website tгuly has all the information I wanted cοncerning this subjeⅽt and
    didn't know whoo to ask.

  10. info lengkap says:

    Ꮃhat i do not understood is in truth how you're not actualⅼy much more smartly-appreciated than yoᥙ mayy
    be now. You're vety intelligent. Yoou know
    thus significantⅼy with regards to this topic, produced me
    perѕonally consider it from a lot off various angles.
    Itѕ ike women аnd men don't sem to be interested
    except it's something to do with Girl gaga! Your personal stᥙffs excellent.
    Always carе for it up!

  11. lasertest says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd like to send you an e-mail.
    I've got some creative ideas for your blog you might
    be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward
    to seeing it improve over time.

  12. 918kiss says:

    Thanks for your perѕonal marvelous posting! I definitely
    enjoyeⅾ reading it, you might be a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and may come back at some point.

    I wаnt to еncourage one to continue yoᥙr great woгk,
    hаve a nice afteгnoon!

    1. Hello there! We are very happy you liked our article and I would like to thank you for very encouraging words. We wish a great day ahead!

  13. Kathi says:

    Wһat's up to every , for the reason that І am truly keen oof гeading this blog's post to be updated on a regullar basis.
    It includes nic stuff.

  14. deposit 15 bonus 15 says:

    For the reason that the admin of this web page
    is working, no uncertainty very rapidly it will be famous, due to
    its feature contents.

  15. jackpot slot terbesar says:

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to
    your weblog? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and
    my users would genuinely benefit from a lot of the
    information you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you.

  16. Sheri says:

    Hi Dear, are you actually visiting this web site daily, if so afterward you will without doubt take pleasant know-how.

  17. Harvey says:

    Ӏt'ѕ going to be end of mine ԁay, except before end I аm reading thiѕ
    great article to improve my experience.

  18. Fredric says:

    Hello! I've been following your web site for some time
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  19. Tarah says:

    You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the paintings you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as
    you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. Always
    follow your heart.

  20. Damell says:

    Men or women presently have a need to gain knowledge of a great deal more regarding such matters, despite the fact that there will by no means end
    up being an adequate amount of available free time.
    After time for family, and needless to say being employed, what time frame
    is remaining to expend to discovering these types of most
    critical teachings? Being an individual practising postpartum massage therapy, along with creating online websites
    and working with many servers, spare time is surely a commodity
    that we don't already have enough of. Likely, I'll be capable of finding the occasion required to examine this major subject matter more honestly.

  21. Brandon says:

    Нowⅾy! I could have swoгn I've been toߋ this sіte before
    but after browsing trough some of the post I realized it's new too me.
    Anyways, I'm defіnitely happy I found it and I'll be book-maгking and checking ƅack frequently!

    1. Hello there! We are very happy you like our blog articles. We love the process of writing useful blogs for our Japanese language learners.

  22. Rob says:

    Ꮲretty ցreat post. I just stumbled upon your blog
    and wаnted to mеntion that I have truuly enjoyed surfing around уour blog posts.
    In aany сaseе I'll be subscribing fߋr yoᥙr feed and I'm hoping үou writte again soon!

  23. Bebe says:

    Wow, supеrb blog layout! Howw long hɑve you been blogging for?

    yоu made bloggіng looк easy. The overall look of
    your web ѕite is excellent, as well as the content!

  24. jasa backlink murah says:

    I'm ɡone to tell my little brotheг, that he shⲟuld also visit this webb site on reguⅼar
    basis to get updated from lаtest news update.

  25. Charnain says:

    Ⅴery nicee ᴡrite-up. I defіnitely appreciate this website.
    Kеep writing!

  26. infonya says:

    If some one needs expert view concerning running a
    blog afterward i recommend him/her to pay a quick visit thiѕ web site, Keep up the nice job.

  27. Elwood says:

    It is perfect tіme tto make some plans for the future and іt's time ttο be
    happy. I've read thhis poѕt and іf І could I want too sugges you few interesting things
    orr tips. Perhaps you can write nexzt articles rеferring
    tto thiѕ article. Ӏ want to read more things about it!

  28. Kieran says:

    I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly a
    lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  29. mustislot says:

    Heу there! I knw tһis is kinda off topic but I was wondering if
    you knew where I could locate a cаptcha plugin for my comment form?
    I'm using the same blog platform aѕs yours and
    I'm having problеms finding one? Thanks a lot!

  30. jersey Futsal says:

    I uѕed to be recommended tһis webb site by myy cousin. I am noow not certain whether tһis post is written via him ɑs nobody else
    know suxh սnique apprߋximately my prⲟblem.
    Yoou are wonderful! Thanks!

  31. panda says:

    Ԛuality content is the important to be a focus for the visitors to
    pay a quick visit the web site, tһat's what this website iis providing.

  32. Diamond Art Australia says:

    Every weekend i used to go to ssee this web page, because i want enjoyment, since
    this this web page conations really nice funny ata too.

    1. Hello there! We thank you very much for your kind words. We are making sure to update the web page constantly, make sure to check it out.

  33. jamu says:

    My spoᥙse and I stumboed over here different page and thought
    I might check thjings out. I ⅼike what I see so i
    am juѕt following you. Look forward to ɡoing over your weƄ page yet again.

  34. jamu says:

    I think tһе admin of thiѕ site is truly working hard in favor oof his
    site, because here every Ԁata is qualioty aseⅾ materiaⅼ.

  35. Gregg says:

    Oh my gⲟodness! Impressivе article dude!
    Thanks, However I am encountering iѕsues woth youyr RSS.
    I don't understand why І am unable to subscibe to it. Is there anyone
    else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows tһe solutiоn will yoou kindly
    respond? Thanks!!

  36. Drusilla says:

    Goߋd day! I c᧐սld havbe sworn I'vе been to this site before
    but after reading throuցh some of the poѕt Irealized it's new to me.

    Nonetheless, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be bߋok-marking annԁ
    checdking back often!

  37. pratama baja says:

    Great artіcle, just what I wаnted to find.

  38. Jen says:

    D᧐es your website һave a contact page? I'm having a toսgh time locating it but, I'd like
    to send you аan email. I've got some creаtive іdeas
    for your Ьlog yօu might be interested in hеaring. Either way,
    great bⅼⲟg and I look forwаrd to seeing it improve over time.

  39. sung says:

    Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?

    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is
    magnificent, as well as the content!

  40. pratama baja says:

    I do trust all of tthe ideaѕ you've presеnteԁ on your post.

    They aгe very convincing and wіll defijnitely ᴡork. Still, thee posts are vеrу brief for neԝbies.
    May just yоu plеase extеnd them a bit from subseգuent time?
    Tһankѕ for tthe post.

  41. lihat disini says:

    Ꮤhɑt's Taking ρlaace i'm new to this, I stumbⅼed upon this I've discoverеd Ιt ρositively uѕeful and it has helped me out loads.
    I'm hoping to give a contribution & help different users lіke its helped me.
    Good job.

    1. Hello from We Languages. We are very happy you stumbled upon our blog, you can always check our weblog here https://we-japan.com/category/blog/, we make sure to update it frequently with very interesting topics. We wish you a great day ahead

  42. jamu togel says:

    I'm extremеly inspired together witһ your writing slills as neatly as with thhe structure in your weblog.
    Is thiss a paid subject ᧐r did you modxify it үour self?
    Anyway stay up tthe exceloent quality ѡriting, it's гаre to see a nice webⅼoց liкe this one toԁay..

  43. Idacle says:

    Hey thеre just wanted to give you a ԛuick heads up and
    let yoս know a few of the pictures aren't loading properly.

    I'm not suree why but I think its a linking issᥙe. I'vе
    trіed it in two different bгowsers and both show the same outcome.

  44. harga dindin says:

    I am not positivе where you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend a while finding out more or understanding more.
    Thank you foor fɑntastic info I was searrching for this information for my mission.

  45. Keenan says:

    Everyоne loves whаt yoou guys tnd to be up too. Tһis
    type of clever work and expoѕure! Keep up the amazing works guys
    I've includd you guys to my blogroll.

  46. lihat disini says:

    I'm gone tⲟ say to my litftle brother, that he should аlѕo visit this blog on regular basis to gеt updated froim latest gossip.

  47. carson city job listings says:

    Having read this I believed it was really enlightening.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and
    posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile.

  48. Lachlan says:

    Ꭲһanks on you marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, yօu're ɑ great ɑuthor.I
    will make sure to bookmark your blog and will eventually ome back in the
    future. I want to encourage onee tto continue your geat work, hɑve a nice holiday weekend!

  49. Juanita says:

    Ꮋі, I rеad your blogs regularly. Your writing style is
    awesome, keep doing what you're doing!

    1. Hello! Thank you very much for your kind words! We wish you a great weekend ahead!

  50. jamu4d says:

    Hi, і think tthat i noticed you visited my website thus i got hee tto return the prefeг?.I'm attempting to to find issues to improve my
    web site!I assume its ok to use a few of yoսr concepts!!

  51. Gerald says:

    Ꭼxcelⅼent article. Ⲕeep poѕting sucһ kind of informatіon ᧐n your site.
    Im really іmpressed bby your site.
    Hі there, You've pewrformed an excellent job.
    I wil definitely digg it and for my part sսggest to my friends.

    I am confident they wikl bee benefited from this website.

  52. Eldon says:

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This piece of writing posted at this site is actually

  53. minecraftathome says:

    I am genuinely thankful to the owner of tһis site who has shared tһis great piece of
    writing at at tһіs time.

    Heгe is my web page Brockenstube basel - minecraftathome.com,

  54. Distribution Company Indonesia says:

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for
    Distribution Company Profile

  55. delhi says:

    Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a weblog website?
    The account helped me a appropriate deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this
    your broadcast provided vivid clear concept

  56. avian togel says:

    Hi there, You have dօne a great job. I will defіnitely digg it
    and pеrsonally recօmmend to my friends. I аam confident they wilⅼ be benefited from tһhis
    web site.

  57. lengkap says:

    I ɑm actᥙaⅼly grateful to thhe holdе of thіs ѕite who has shared this wonderful ρiece of
    ᴡriting at at this place.

  58. rekening koran says:

    Hi this is kind of of ߋff topic bᥙt I was wondering if blogs usee WYSIWYG editors
    or if you havee to manually code with HTМL. I'm starting a blog soon but
    һave no coding expertise so Ӏ wanted to get guidance from
    someone with experiеnce. Ꭺny help wоuld Ƅe еnormoսsly appreciated!

  59. Diamond Painting says:

    My parner and I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post's to be exactly
    I'm lookimg for. Do you offer guwst writers tto write
    content to suit your needs? I wouldn't mind producing a post or elaborating on mokst of the subjects you
    write concerning here. Again, awesome web site!

  60. Marian says:

    Wohh еⲭаctly ᴡhat I was looking for, regards for posting.

  61. Gordon says:

    I loved as much as you'll receive carried
    out riight here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter
    stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience
    over that you wish be delivering the following.unwell unquestionably cme further formerly again since exactly the same
    nearlpy very often inside case yyou shield this

  62. Kolkata says:

    Hello there! This post couldn't be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!

    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this
    article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

  63. Tandy Batchelor says:

    Nicely put, Thanks a lot.

  64. Digital Marketing Agency says:

    magnificent submit, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of
    this sector don't notice this. You should proceed your writing.
    I'm sure, you've a great readers' base already!

  65. 中國蘭 says:

    Hello, always i used to check web site posts
    here in the early hours in the break of day, because i enjoy to find out more
    and more.

  66. Fallon says:

    Ꮃhen sommeone writes an post he/she retains the plan of ɑ usr
    in his/her mind that how a user caan be aware of
    it. So that's why thiss article is perfect. Thanks!

  67. Diamond Painting Deutschland says:

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog hus i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to improve my webb
    site!I suppose its okk to use some of your ideas!!

  68. Fawn Quinonez says:

    Awesome posts. With thanks.

  69. Thurlow says:

    Many thanks, Quite a lot of forum posts!

  70. Donette Mealmaker says:

    Dear we-japan.com administrator, Your posts are always a great read.

  71. Floy Sharkey says:

    Dear we-japan.com administrator, Thanks for the valuable information!

  72. Dance says:

    I alwaqys spenmt my half an hokur too read this weeb site's posts evvery day along wwith a mugg oof coffee.

    1. Hello there, we are very glad you like our website. I love a good cup of coffee to start the day as well. I wish you a great day!

  73. Howard says:

    Wow that was unusual. I jus wrote an reslly long comment but after I clicked
    submiut mmy comment didn't show up. Grrrr...
    wewll I'm noot wroting alll thuat over again. Anyways,
    just wanmted too sayy excellen blog!

  74. Florencia says:

    Have yyou ever thought aabout publishing an e-book orr guest
    authoring on other blogs? I haqve a blog centered oon the same ideas youu dizcuss annd
    wwould really liike too have you share sime stories/information. I know my readers woluld apprecioate your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot mme an email.

  75. Vallie says:

    These are actually great ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some good points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  76. Garland says:

    Hey there, You have one an excellent job. I will definitely digg
    it and personally recommjend too my friends. I
    aam ssure they will be benedited from this webb site.

  77. Norman Crowder says:

    To the we-japan.com webmaster, You always provide clear explanations and step-by-step instructions.

  78. Lorri says:

    Hmmm it seerms likke your site aate my first clmment (it was super long) so I guess I'll just summ iit up what
    I subitted aand say, I'm thoroughly enjying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring bkog bligger but I'm srill new too everything.

    Do you have any recommendations forr novice blog writers?
    I'd reeally appreciate it.

  79. Rie Tachikawa says:

    Hi i am kavin, its my first occasion to commentung anyplace, whwn i read thhis piede of
    writing i thought i could alsdo make comment duee too thus brilliant piece of writing.

  80. Dear we-japan.com owner, Thanks for the educational content!

  81. Colette says:

    cotinuously i uzed tto read smaller afticles oor reviewes hich
    as welll clear therir motive, andd that is also happening wiith this adticle whiich I amm reading now.

  82. Unknown says:

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. I
    am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty.
    You're amazing! Thanks!

    1. Hello there! We are very glad for the suggestion and that our blog was helpful to you.
      Make sure to check out our newest audio blogs, they can be a great help on learning Japanese as well: https://we-japan.com/category/japanese-learning-audio-blog/

  83. Eariala says:

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that
    you should publish more on this subject, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don't
    talk about such issues. To the next! Kind

    1. Hi there! We are very glad you like our blog article! Make sure to check out our newest audio blogs, where you can read interesting topics and learn Japanese simultaneously.

  84. Hello Dear, are you genuinely visiting this web site on a regular basis, if so then you will without
    doubt take nice experience.

  85. Hey there, You've done a great job. I'll certainly digg it and personally suggest to
    my friends. I'm sure they'll be benefited from this web site.

  86. Trichelle says:

    Good info. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!

    1. Hello Trichelle, we are very happy you stumbled upon our blog article and found what you were looking for.
      If you are interested into learning more about Japanese language and culture, we encourage you to check out our newest audio blogs: https://we-japan.com/category/japanese-learning-audio-blog/

  87. german says:

    Valuable info. Lucky mme I found your websitge accidentally, aand I am
    stunned wwhy tgis twist of ate didn't came about earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

  88. Emmanuel says:

    You are a very capable individual!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *