Japanese Grammar Bank – Asking Questions in Japanese

Today we talk about the fundamentals of any language. Let’s talk Questions in Japanese!

Questions are essential to keep the natural flow of conversation going.

And even if your Japanese is not at a conversational level yet, you’ll definitely need to ask for the price of the souvenirs you’d like to buy, right?

So today we are going to teach you about the question words, but before we do anything, have you studied all the Japanese particles yet?

If you can recall, the most important particle needed to ask a question is particle か。

Go check it out if you haven’t already.

asking questions in Japanese

The particle か is used at the end of a sentence to ask a question.

Additionally, it’s important to know that the question mark is not used in the Japanese Language.

You should also practice other particles like は, に and が as you will need to use them while making a question sentence.

Moving on!

Japanese Question Words | いつ (when)

Japanese Question Words | 何時 (at what time)

Japanese Question Words | なん (what)

Japanese Question Words | いくら (how much)

Japanese Question Words | どう/  いかが  (how)

Japanese Question Words | だれ / どなた who

Asking Questions in Japanese with いつ (When)

When you don’t need to know the exact time, but would like to know roughly when an event is occurring, you can use the Japanese question word いつ.

いつ

itsu

When

For example, you might not want to know someone’s exact time of birth when asking about their birthday, right? In this instance, you can use the following example:

Japanese SentenceHiraganaRomajiEnglish
誕生日はいつですか。たんじょうびはいつですか。Tanjyoubi wa itsu desuka.When is your birthday?

Asking Questions in Japanese with 何時 (At what time)

Japan has a reputation for being an efficient nation, take their incredibly prompt trains as a good example!

You’ll need this question word more times than you think.

何時

nanji

At what time

Remember that friend whose birthday you just asked? Guess what? It’s tomorrow!

Now, you want to go to the shop to buy a gift for that friend. You wouldn’t want to miss a train, would you? So, you can keep this example in mind:

Japanese SentenceHiraganaRomajiEnglish
電車は何時に出ますか。でんしゃはなんじにでますか。Densha wa nanjini demasuka.At what time does the train leave.

By the way, did you know Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest train station?

Asking Questions in Japanese with なん (What)

Now that you have reached the shop, you are looking at various things but you are just confused.

While practicing Japanese counters, we have learned that 何 is the kanji for なん which means ‘what‘. So this question word is just that!

なん

nan

What

If you have something in pointing range, and would like to know what that is, you can just ask:

Japanese SentenceHiraganaRomajiEnglish
これは何ですか。これはなんですか。Kore wa nan desuka.What is this?

Asking Questions in Japanese with いくら (How much)

Oh, you’ve found something you like! To ask the price of an item, the question word いくら will be used.

いくら

ikura

How much

Let’s say you’ve decided to buy a book. Here, you can use the topic marker particle は to ask about the specific object.

Japanese SentenceHiraganaRomajiEnglish
本はいくらですか。ほんはいくらですか。Hon wa ikura desuka.How much is the price of a book?

Asking Questions in Japanese with どう / いかが  (How)

Now that you are considering the gift to buy, you’d want to get a second opinion from a friend, just to be sure.

When you want to ask someone’s opinion, you can use this question word.

どう

How

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
これはどうですか。Kore wa dou desuka.How is this?

いかが along with でしょうか forms a polite version of the sentence.

これはいかがでしょうか。Kore wa ikaga deshouka.How is this?

Asking Questions in Japanese with だれ / どなた (Who)

Finally, you are at the friend’s birthday party.

You discover lots of new people. So this question word is specifically used for people. If you want to ask your friend who someone is, you’ll use this question word. 

どなた (donata) is a polite form of だれ (dare).

HiraganaRomajiEnglish
あのひとはだれですか。Ano hito wa dare desuka.Who is that person?

You’ve now been introduced to the 6 most common Japanese Question Words.

You’re ready to ask questions in Japanese!

In this lesson we also mentioned some other grammar points you’d want to review:

We regularly update our Japanese Grammar Bank with new lessons for all levels, so make sure to come back to check them out.

Japanese negative form

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How to say When in Japanese?

When in Japanese is いつ (itsu).

How to say How much in Japanese?

How much in Japanese is いくら (ikura).

How to say Who in Japanese?

Who in Japanese is だれ (dare) or どなた (donata), which is more polite.

What are some examples of questions in Japanese?

誕生日はいつですか。(Tanjyoubi wa itsu desuka.) | When is your birthday?

電車は何時に出ますか。(Densha wa nanjini demasuka.) | At what time does the train leave.

これは何ですか。(Kore wa nan desuka.) | What is this?

本はいくらですか。(Hon wa ikura desuka.) | How much is the price of a book?

How to build a sentence in Japanese?

The most basic Japanese sentence structure is:

Subject + は + Object + です.

This sentence structure is used for generalised things or stating facts.

Is Japanese easy to learn?

Just like for any foreign language, Japanese has easy and more difficult aspects.

If you learn the language following a structured course with regular study sessions, you’ll make great progress and overcome difficulties in a more efficient manner.

This is what LTL is all about, so make sure to check out our Japanese Flexi Classes.

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