Lingual Ninja! - Japanese Lessons Online

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Oct 12, 2018

Asking questions in Japanese - ka : interrogative word

Hello. I'm Kosuke!

Today, let's learn how to ask questions in Japanese!

The most important word in this article is "か(ka)"!

Let's learn how to use it!

1. Summary

If you go to Japan, you will have many questions.

If you ask questions to Japanese people on the street, I think they will try their best to answer them.

However, Japanese people generally can't speak or listen to English so well.

I recommend you to write your question on your phone or memo, and show them.

It will help them to understand your question.

Or you can use a web service to translate your question into Japanese.

Of course, if you can ask questions in Japanese, you will not have any trouble.

Let's practice using this article!

2. Particle "ka"

When you ask questions in Japanese, "か (ka)" is the word you should remember.

"Ka" is one of the Japanese particles.

If you want to know other Japanese particles, please check this:
  Japanese particles >>

3. How to use "ka"

3-1. "desu" and "masu"

If you remember "desu" and "masu", you can use "ka" easily.

As I wrote in the past article, if we put "desu" or "masu" at the end of the sentence, the sentence becomes polite.

Below is how to use "desu" and "masu".

  •  [Subject] は [Noun] です。
  •  [Subject] wa [Noun] desu

  •  [Subject] は [Adjective] です。
  •  [Subject] wa [Adjective] desu

  •  [Subject] が [Verb] ます。
  •  [Subject] ga [Verb] masu

If you want to know more about "desu" and "masu", please check my past article:
  desu and masu >>

3-2. "desu-ka" and "masu-ka"

If you want to make the sentence interrogative, all you have to do is put "ka" right after "desu" or "masu".

The form of the sentences are shown below:

  •  [Subject] は [Noun] です
  •  [Subject] wa [Noun] desuka

  • [Subject] は [Adjective] です
  • [Subject] wa [Adjective] desuka

  •  [Subject] が [Verb] ます
  •  [Subject] ga [Verb] masuka

In English, you put the question mark "?", when you create a question sentence.

However, in Japanese, we don't need to use it.

Actually, in our Japanese e-mail, we often use "?".

Even if it is a business e-mail, we often use "?".

However, it is not authentic Japanese grammar.

Just putting "ka" at the end of the sentence is enough to make a Japanese question.

If you write official documents in Japanese, maybe it's better for you not to use "?".


Affirmative sentence:

きょうは あついです。
kyo u wa a tsu i de su

Meaning: "Today is hot."

きょう: today
あつい: hot

If you want to know more about the adjective "あつい (atsui)", please check this:
  Atsui >>

Interrogative sentence:

きょうは あついです
kyo u wa a tsu i de su ka

Meaning: "Is today hot?"

Like the example above, when you put "か (ka)" at the end of the sentence, it becomes a question.

Let's check another example!

Affirmative sentence:

マイケルさんが はしります。
ma i ke ru sa n ga ha shi ri ma su

Meaning: "Mr. Michael runs."

マイケル: Michael
さん: Mr.
はしり or はしる: run

If you don't know why Katakana characters are used for Michael, please check this:
  When should you use Katakana? >>

If you want to know how to use "さん(san)", please check this:
  San - Calling name politely >>

Interrogative sentence:

マイケルさんが はしります
ma i ke ru sa n ga ha shi ri ma su ka

Meaning: "Does Mr. Michael run?"

Like the examples above, if you want to make a  question, all you have to do is put "か (ka)" at the end of the sentence.

4. How to answer

You already know how to make a question sentence.

Then, how should you answer that question?

You just have to remember two words:

 ha i

 Meaning: "Yes"

 i i e

 Meaning: "No"

If you want to reply "yes", please say "hai".

If you want to say "no", please say "iie" in Japanese.

"Hai" and "iie" are interjections.
If you want to know more about Japanese interjections, please check this:
  Unique Japanese Interjections >>

5. Conclusion

If you want to ask questions in Japanese, please use the forms below!

  •  [Subject] は [Noun] です
  •  [Subject] wa [Noun] desuka

  •  [Subject] は [Adjective] です
  •  [Subject] wa [Adjective] desuka

  •  [Subject] が [Verb] ます
  •  [Subject] ga [Verb] masuka

If you want to say "yes", please use "hai"!

If you want to say "no", please use "iie"!

I hope this article helps you study Japanese!
Thank you for reading!


  1. Good lessons today! Ka ka ka...
    I will remember easily because the Malay language use "ka" for questions but it falls in between the sentence like a slang.

    Domo Arigatogozaimus Sensei Kosuke-San.

    1. Oh, I didn’t know it’s similar to Malay language!
      It’s interesting!
      Thank you for reading my articles!