How to ask questions in Japanese?

How to ask questions in Japanese?

The most common interrogative words are What, When, Why, Where, and Who. These five interrogative words are sometimes called WH-words. It is also called Five Ws and if ‘How’ is included, it is called Five Ws and How.

How can we express ourselves by asking questions in Japanese?

Let’s check it below:  



What’ in Japanese is なになん (NaniNan). Its Kanji is , read either as なに or なん in Kun-Yomi while (ka) is its On-Yomi reading.


  • なんですか?
    (Nan desu ka? )
    What is it?

  • これはなに?
    (Kore ha nani?)
    What is this?

  • なにがあったの?
    (Nani ga atta no?)
    What happened?

  • なんだろうな?
    (Nan darou na?)
    I wonder what it is?



When’ in Japanese is いつ (itsu). As far as I know, いつ if used as ‘When’ does not have a Kanji equivalent.


  • いつに?
    (Itsu ni?)
    When is it?

  • いつにほんにきますか?
    (Itsu Nihon ni kimasu ka?)
    When are you coming to Japan?

  • アキラさんのたんじょうびはいつですか?
    (Akira-san no tanjoubi ha itsu desu ka?
    When is Akira’s birthday?


Why (How)

The Japanese for ‘Why’ is quite confusing. But in most textbooks、 ‘Why’ in Japanese is なぜ (Naze). It can also be translated to ‘How’. なぜ is both used for why and how.
どう (dou) is also ‘Why’ and ‘How’ in Japanese.
なんで (何で) (Nande) is also ‘Why’ in Japanese.


  • なぜここにいますか?
    (Naze koko ni imasu ka?)
    Why are you here?

    (Note: どうして and なんで can also be used in this example. The meaning is the same.)

  • なんでそんなことをいったの?
    (Nande sonna koto wo itta no?)
    Why did you say that?

  • どうですか?
    (Dou desu ka?)
    How is it?



どこ (Doko) is translated as ‘Where’ in Japanese. If どこ is added with Japanese particles, the meaning will also be change. This is the same when a particle is added to other interrogative words.


  • どこですか?
    (Doko desu ka?)
    Where is it?  (Where?)

  • どこにも
    (doko nimo)

  • どこでも
    (doko demo)

  • どこか
    (doko ka)

  • トイレはどこですか?
    (toire ha doko desu ka?)
    Where is the toilet?

  • あなたのしゅっしんはどこですか?
    (Anata no shusshin ha doko desu ka?)
    Where do you come from?  



The Japanese of ‘Who’ is だれ () (Dare). だれ is more direct and considered casual or if used when talking to older persons、 it is considered as not polite (informal). どなた (Donata) is the formal way of asking ‘Who’ in Japanese.
どなた is mostly written in Hiragana but its kanji is 何方.


  • だれですか?
    (Dare desu ka?)
    Who is it?

  • どなたさまですか?
    (Donata sama desu ka?)
    Who are you?

  • だれも
    (Dare mo)
    No one.

  • わたしのパーティーにはだれもきませんでした。
    (Watashi no pa-ti- ha daremo kimasen deshita.)
    No one came to my party. 


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