CONTRIBUTED BY KAHO
Kaho’s Japanese Corner: Kore wa nan desuka?
I think that when living overseas, you are often in situations where you want to ask “what is this?” So, here’s how to ask this question to a Japanese person.
Kore wa nan desuka? = What is this?
kore = this
wa = adding wa makes “this” a subject (Don’t worry about it if you don’t get it.)
nan = what. This is a conjugated form of “nani”, which is “what”.
desuka = equivalent to “is” in question form. It becomes a question form by adding “ka”.
Sore wa ~ desu. = It is ~.
sore = it
If you want to ask someone about something that is placed away from you, you can ask “Are wa nan desuka?” “Are” means “that”.
This is not hard, right?
The tricky part of this question is that if you don’t know Japanese or if the person that you ask doesn’t speak any English, you might not understand the answer. It’s not impossible to figure out though. You can use gestures to try to understand.
I have a 3-year-old daughter who likes to ask me “mama, what’s this?”, “what’s that?” and touches things that I don’t want her to touch sometimes. It’s cute and great that she’s curious, but sometimes she points out to something that I don’t know how to explain. You know what I mean? Sometimes, I answer her with “mama mo wakaranai…”, which means “mama doesn’t know, either”.
mo = also
wakaranai = don’t understand
If you want to say, I don’t know, you use “wakarimasen”.
“Wakarimasu” is to understand, so “wakarimasen” is the opposite.
Ask this form of question to the Japanese and learn more about the Japanese food or culture!
Want to read more of these helpful Japanese language posts? Check them all out HERE.