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Goin’ Japanesque!

Basics of Japanese: Asking Questions

We previously learned in Lesson 7 how to do a self-introduction, or jikoshoukai. You should now feel comfortable telling people your name, age, nationality and interests. But what if you want to break the ice and ask about one of these things? Well, asking questions is super easy in Japanese!


か (ka)

か (ka) is key.
か is like a question mark that you say out loud. Add か to the end of any sentence and it becomes a question!

わたし は カトリーナ です (Watashi wa katoriina desu; I’m Katrina)  → わたし は カトリーナ です か (Watashi wa katoriina desu ka; Am I Katrina?)

あなた は じゅうごさい です (Anata wa jyuugo-sai desu; You’re 15) → あなた は じゅうごさい です か (Anata wa jyuugo-sai desu ka; Are you 15?)

Hopefully that seems pretty simple. Now, let’s get on to creating new questions with a few new words.


Question Words


Now see them in use! Test if you can understand all the sentences below. They all use only the words we’ve learned thus far in our lessons.


1. わたし は だれ です か (Watashi wa dare desu ka)
2. あなた は なんさい です か (Anata wa nansai desu ka)
3. なに が すき です か (Nani ga suki desu ka)
4. アメリカ は どこ です か (Amerika wa doko desu ka)
5. なぜ アニメ が すき です か (Naze anime ga suki desu ka)
6. ビデオゲーム は どう です か (Bideo geemu wa dou desu ka)

Check your answers

1. Who am I?
2. What age are you?
3. What do you like?
4. Where is America?
5. Why do you like anime?
6. How about video games? OR How is the video game?


Answering Questions

Answering questions is even easier than asking them. Unlike in English, where you’ll change the sentence order when asking versus answering, it stays the complete same in Japanese! In fact, all you have to remember is to do two things: 1.) replace the question word with the answer and 2.) remove the か from the end of the sentence.
Let’s see this in action:

わたし は だれ です  → わたし は カトリーナ です
Who am I? → I am Katrina.
なんさい です  → にじゅうごさい です
How old are you? → I am 25 years old.


In Conversations

Now let’s read this dialog between your two classmates, Omatsu-chan and Hifumi.



So how did you do? Do you feel a little more confident now in being able to break the ice with someone new? The best way to learn is to practice so grab a friend, a cat or even a mirror and try out these conversations for yourself!

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About the author

Katrina has worked as a Japanese language teacher and freelance translator for several years. She loves traveling and has been all over Japan. Click here --> Free Japanese Lessons Practical Japanese Lessons

View all articles by Katrina