Question of the day: how do you form a question in Japanese?
In English, we often know that someone is asking a question based on a few aspects of a speaker's sentence formation, such as an upward inflection of the speaker's voice at the end of a sentence. Other features typical of questions sentences in English are words such as “wh” words – who, what, when, where, and why. In Japanese, a question is often formed with a few of the same features that English contains, like upward inflection of a speakers voice at the end of a sentence and words such as nani, naze, doko, itsu, and dare. Yet, Japanese has a unique feature that English doesn't; a particle that directly indicates that the previous phrase or sentence was a question – the particle ka/か.
か is used at the end of a sentence to indicate that the speaker is asking a question. It acts kind of like a question mark at the end of sentences in English, except that in Japanese か is used in both written and oral speech. This is a really fantastic particle because it can help Japanese students identify when others are making statements or asking questions in conversation. So, listen for the か in conversation to know when you are expected to respond!
Note: In written form, if か marks a question, it is followed by a question mark, just like in English.
[Particle] か (ka) is essentially the Japanese version of a question mark. The sentence turns into an interrogative question by putting this 'か' at the very end of the sentence. This is most often used in more formal Japanese, or when sentences employ the use of “です” or “ます.” If used in an informal question, か can be seen as extremely direct or familiar. It can also be used when someone is using a self-reflective question… when someone is asking him/herself a question.
Sentence + か
How are you?
Do you have a girlfriend?
(います is the ます form of いる, which we addressed yesterday)
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