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  5. "何年生ですか?"

"何年生ですか?"

Translation:What grade are you in?

June 6, 2017

118 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TrumpCard_TC

I think something on the lines of "What year of study are you in?" is more appropriate since "-nensei" applies all the way to university, where you don't really have grades anymore.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lhane

But University students still ask if your a freshman, senior, etc. So first year, second year, 3rd, 4th, 5th still applies.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jungerstein

In East Asia, there are no grades sitting together in universities, but there are grades as implicit identities.

Perhaps astonishing to you, in universities in East Asia, a lower-grade student is expected to obey their higher-grade fellows, and the higher-grade is somehow in charge of 'educating' and taking care of lower graders.

For example, I have a T-shirt as a souvenir of entering the university in 2006. Before 2009, unless required (as in some activities), I kept it in my wardrobe; but after 2010, I wore it almost every day in summer. When I was a lower-grade graduate student, I listened to and used honorific addressing to higher graders, but I did not need to pay when all the students in the lab dined out; when I was in my final year, I paid (the payroll evenly divided among the final-year students) the dinners. Though I am not Japanese, in Japan this is more intensive.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/katso

Wow what a different culture! So community centric, love it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bon888918

This is astonishing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_Bunny_Chan_

In Africa it Applies but in Elementary, Middle and High school, so when I came to the US and I meet a senior student I mistakenly say e.g. "Senior John" or Senior for short but then I learnt it does not apply in the US so yeah pretty similar except in some Universities in Africa, it is best to stay on your on or with people you knew before you entered university, if you do not want to bring trouble upon yourself.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-idonthavethink-

Wow, I haven't heard that before


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kshitij16607

this is true that senor educate lower grade and lower grade obey higher grade as in India though


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katie864091

My elementary students say this all the time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elizadeux

"What year are you in?" is accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertKols

In case you forgot how it reads, "nensei" 年生


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GesiTerron

What makes this "What grade is he"? Rather than "What grade is it"? Im confused


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/a3awright

Nothing in the sentence specifies a pronoun. In a different context, it may need to be translated differently.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GesiTerron

In the app(Android) it wanted "What grade is he?" When i answered "What grade is it?" Because, exactly, there is no pronoun indicator. Its translated completely different on the site here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheJack38

Translating with "it" does't really make sense here, so using "he" or "she" would be the correct translations. IIRC japanese is highly context sensitive, and you have to judge these things on context. "It" cannot have a school grade, so it must be "he" or "she"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mixxedyolyfe

It is possible that we can be referring to the level of the material we are looking at.

"this math test is hard." "what grade level is it?" Although it is not the most effective it is still possible.

Also, although my Japanese sucks. I'm sure there is a way to add these pronouns rather than making it this vague.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

Actually, 年生 doesn't quite work like that.

As some other comments have pointed out, while in English, we can use "grade" in a few different ways even in a school setting, the Japanese word 年生 refers strictly to "students" because it has 生 in it. You could even think of it as a kind of suffix which means "student", e.g 中学生 = "middle school student", 留学生 (りゅうがくせい) = "study abroad student", 一年生 = "one/first year student", 先生 = "(studied) ahead of you student", etc

"Grade" in the way you've used it in your example would be 学年 in Japanese, and "grade" to describe your results for that test would be 成績 (せいせき).

There are definitely ways to make this sentence less vague by adding pronouns, but just like picking which translation of "grade" is most accurate, you have to consider how Japanese people would say what you want to say in the same situation. Grammar problems aside, you can't simply switch out each English word for the Japanese equivalent and expect the result to sound correct or natural. When it comes down to it, you just have to get used to the idea that pronouns are omitted very often in Japanese.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vvolf04

My answer was "what grade are you in?" I didnt have the choice he


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MiraJ.

you wouldn't say 年生 for objects. the 生 is for students.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jim373739

I went with "what grade are you in?" If the subject is not specified, I assume the subject is my conversation partner.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RamenDutchman

You can guess on context that the one in a certain grade would be human.

In English is very rude to refer to a human as "it", lowering their status to an object.

Sidenote: animals that aren't pets are still often an "it"!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flypirat

But can't grade also mean something else? 'I got an A in the math test' 'wow, that is a good grade!' aren't those called grades, too?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/itsbecca

In English yes, but the Kanji here can not mean that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/trevettm

I said "what grade are you" and that worked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Metleon

I think too specify 'he', you would put 'kare wa' at the beginning of the sentence. 'Kare' is 'he' and 'wa' (written as the character 'ha') is the topic particle, which I think is the correct one to use in this case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/touhoku

Japanese often leave out unnecesary parts of the sentece. The listener will understand from the context. Saying: kare wa nan nensei desu ka translates: ''As for him, what grade is he in?'' So saying ''kare wa'' isn't necessary.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/grippygecko

In British English we say year not grade. I translated this as "what year are you in? " and it was correct . You can see that the meaning of nensei is yeargroup for students, therefore it can only apply to students not study materials or anything else. Just as you don't say in English "what year group is this test?" you don't say nensei either .


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArashiNL

It was correct for you?! I answered "What year are you in?" and it got marked wrong. :/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mariodez

Sorry what's the pronunciation and what are the meaning of the compounds?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/developedby

To me it seems to be "nan nen sei desu ka?" Nan meaning 'what' 'Nen sei' is school grade or year 'Desu ka' is making a question


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arctic_Line

何年生 is pronounced なんねんせい for you wanting to know.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

Is that all one word?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/henry.fenb

I would like a UK English translation, US english I find confusing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sorcha864335

That would be, What year are you in?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xander479

Yeah, I've tried out British versions of what it tells us and Duolingo accepts them all. (Eg "I'm in Year 4" instead of "I'm a fourth grader")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

But just to confuse matters, a child in the fourth year of a Japanese primary school would be the same age as a child in Year 5 of a British primary school. So to translate it as "Year 4" doesn't seem right.

"I'm in the fourth year of primary school," would seem the clearest translation, to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PPMachen

Is there any way to distinguish between asking a single person a question and multiple people?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ranggawiratno

You can use お前達は何年生ですか。 "omaetachi wa nan nen sei desu ka" which sort of translates to "what years are you guys in?" CMIIW


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/anonamoose52

tachi does correctly pluralize this, but be careful, omae is pretty darn informal and could start you off on the wrong foot with people you aren't close with.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kiaros_Mokushi

あなたたち (anata-tachi) would probably be more appropriate in most cases.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DivinaAlex

Actually the best approach would be to avoid using ANY forms of "you" altogether. They are all considered rude, including "anata".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ashmadux

This needs some explaining better. I'm a third-year student and I have not heard that I'm not that is something bad to say in certain situations. I'm aware of that most Japanese don't use it, as we foreigners learn at a point that many words start disappearing in Japanese conversation. However is it really bad to say anata ha? Needs clarity.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/touhoku

saying ''anata'' is better to be omitted as it can come off as rude. Obviously, since you are a foreigner they won't be insulted but better leave it out all together. (it litterally means ''over there'' and when Japanese use it it's most of the time someone talking to their husband.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YanagiPablo

The thing is the proper way to directly addressing someone is by using his name or title.
Using a generic pronoun means that either you forgot his name or title, or you don't care.
That is what may be rude.

There should have been first a presentation (はじめまして、マルマルです。よろしくおねがいします。) and the other person would also said his name, and thereafter you are supposed to address him/her by the name, not あなた.
It would be better,I think, if you forgot the name, to humbly ask the name again first, rather than don't caring and going withあなた.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/touhoku

anonamoose52 is correct. Also, ''omae'' doesn't really make sense when used with ''desu''.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/punkdoabc

Some of the On'yomi pronounciations sound a lot like Mandarin, such as: 生 - sei/shēng; 年 - nen/nian; 小 - shiō/xiao.

But 学 is spoken very differently: "gaku/xué". Why is that? Does this On come from Cantonese or something?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

This is a really interesting question, which I had to look up too. I found this great explanation on Tofugu https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/onyomi-kunyomi/

Essentially, your guess was pretty close. The "gaku" reading comes from another form of Chinese that was predominant during the Wu Dynasty, whereas I believe modern Mandarin stems mostly from the Han Dynasty, from which many Japanese on'yomi are also derived.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RITCH079

And 生 also means birth. I thought the phrase was asking the year of birth. Hahaha altho 学生 (xue sheng) means student. I guess it was cut short.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chebal
  • 1149

We do not say 7th grader "七年生"

We usually say 中学一年生(junior high school 1st grader)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheBest_F-22

I still think that "In what grade are you?" should also be accepted...

Note: it is NOT accepted at the time of this writing!. ...
-_-; ...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/barak.gur

What is the difference between nen and nensei? I thought the first is grade and the second is grader, but now it seems wrong


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GabrielYuji96

"Nen" is year in a general sense. For example, if it was "nan ne desuka?" it is like "what year is it?" (or "What year are we in?"). As for, "Nensei" it means "school year/grade" referring to people (the students), so it's not applied to not objects like "first-year content".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RodrigoRequiao

なにねんせいですか?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rk5I3

なんねんせいですか、not なに


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kageyama-T

Why is that? Is it to sound more natural, or does it change the sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Adamcook2004

A year in school isn't called a grade in the UK, it's just called a year. Would it be acceptable to translate this as "What year arre you in?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xander479

Yep. That's fine, and Duolingo accepts it, which I'm very glad about as a fellow Englishman


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TibbitTidbits

Why does 何 sound like "なん" (nan) instead of "なに" (nani) in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mimi459612

Why wasnt "In what grade are you??" right?? Its almost the saaame


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lycantis

Because no one speaks like that anymore unless they happen to be doing a Shakespeare play. Though technically correct, people would look at a foreigner if they spoke like that in a lot of English-speaking locations.

I cannot speak for UK English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lycantis

*look at a foreigner funny


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_emilymcn

the 年 in 年生 isn't very clear


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xander479

Using 'grade' in this context is weird for me on here. While I know and understand the meaning, we don't have 'grade x' in England; rather 'year x'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeffreyHua18

Hiragana answer: なんねんせいですか?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/t.l.monk

Can you write it in romaji too? It's sometimes difficult for beginner like me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

Do you mean in the forum to help, or as an answer. For the latter, no, that's not Japanese, and for the formal, it's "nan nensei desuka?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

It would be good if they accepted romaji. It would still be Japanese, no matter what writing system you used.

Fun fact: In 1928, under Kemal Atatürk, a law was passed that from the first of January the following year, all official communications in Turkey had to be made using a modified version of the Latin alphabet, rather than the Arabic script that had traditionally been used. So everyone had to switch to the new writing system. The language, however, remained Turkish.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

But that is incorrect (your statement, not your fact. Quite interesting, actually). If you wrote English words in katakana, that would not be English, that would be a Japanese form of English, that is not an official language. The same goes here, you don't write in romaji, so it is not correct. It is only used to sound out the words, not write in them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oliver747900

Well, my fun fact was a concrete illustration of the fact that a writing system is not a language. You can switch from one writing system to another without there necessarily being any change in the language itself.

There are lots of other historical examples, such as the invention of hangul in Korea, leading to people switching from writing Korean in Chinese characters to writing them in a completely new system, and there are lots of examples in the countries of central Asia, where people switched between the Arabic, Cyrillic, and Latin scripts, no doubt leading to everyone there becoming thoroughly confused. Switching the way you write a language does not, in itself, change the language. It just requires you to learn new conventions for representing it on paper.

To give a more personal example: as a child and in my teens, I made up my own writing systems to write diary entries and secret messages and the like. But I was still writing in English. It must have been English. I didn't know any other language well enough to write my diary entries in.

If I wrote English in katakana, it would still be English, too, although of course I would have to make up my own conventions for representing the English sounds that katakana characters are not designed to represent.

And kore wa nihongo desu yo.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

That may sound like spoken Japanese, but it is not Japanese writing. This excercise is to write in Japanese, so writing in English to make Japanese sounds would not be correct. You can disagree with me, but romaji will never be accepted in this course, for a good reason.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pratlearns

And randomly, so many new words are popping up ahhh


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshHerber3

I answered with "What grade am I in?" and it said it was correct. I think that's because since the subject is left out the subject is based on the context, thus "What grade am I in" can technically be correct. I think.

Is "what grade am I in" usually phrased in a way other than "何年生ですか?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ANSHAYAGARWAL

How to remember kanji? A different symbol for whole words...!! Is there a way to remember and recognize the kanji or a trick to it? Or do people just get used to it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PholaX

You can learn radicals from which kanji are composed and look up similar kanji and their pronunciation and meaning. Then write it down for a hundred of times, until you really get used to them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JherekLazo

How is 生 pronounced?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

In 何年生, 生 is pronounced せい (sei). It sounds like the English word "say".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oliver_francais

I wish you could click on each letter for pronunciation


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xiang-yu

I thought 何年生でしか means "In which year did you born" as 生 also mean birth/bear.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rk5I3

That actually uses the same kanji, but different pronunciation: 何年 生まれ ですか。(なんねん うまれ ですか)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/J-D20

so would ”何年にですか?” mean "what age are you in?" :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rk5I3

Bluntly said, no. 何年ですか means "What year is it?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LVRtObCh

Why does 'grades' only apply to elementary school? In middle and high school there are grades as well. At least here (Holland) there are.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fxtoma

生 is, if im not mistaken, is always silent in the context of this level. Why is that


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DonnyRahman

何年生ですか


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kairu260485

I wrote grade school rather than elementary. I know there are a few ways to say elementary that basically mean the same thing, but duo seems to prefer that we use just one way


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Blackat190

why is "nani" before "nensei"? shouldnt "desu" be next to "nani"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arctic_Line

Because 何 is basically a placeholder for when we don't know what goes there. So instead of 三年生 we are using 何年生.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/L.AndrademaY

年 just means year so being told it means grade and using that instead is getting confusing, if i didn't know any Japanese beforehand then using 年 later in something like 'three years ago' would get even more confusing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

Duolingo isn't using 年 as "grade" here, it's using 年生 as "grade", which is a different word.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jessie416189

Why is 何 at the beginning, instead of the usual where it is placed after the subject eg 名前は何ですか?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

That is because 年生 is a counter here, meaning that it goes directly after a number. 何 is always in the place of numbers, so since you probably won't say 年生は三です、you won't say 年生は何ですか。


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnElowin

what is the translation for "年生" and how do you pronounce it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChadProper

It appears to be nensei from other posters.

So it will all be Nan(i) nensei desu ka?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

It means "grade", or "school year".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeFant0meCach3

Has anyone else noticed pairing of kanji that often are very similar... I've noticed this in several instances like here, the kanji appear so close surely this isn't just coincidence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kerrad_

What the difference between 年 and 歳 ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MilesBaker5

年 means "year", and is also used in compound words similar to it, and the counter for years. 歳 is the counter for years in age. 年生 means "grade", as in a school year.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aimpat

The correct choice is not available


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aimpat

The correct choice is not available


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aimpat

The correct choice is available


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aimpat

The correct choice is not available


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ImaginaryKuroe

Switch ”what” with ”which”.

”Which grade are you in?”


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/doctir133r

Why does the romaji list sei as nama? Is that another word for the kanji


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/doctir133r

Why does the romaji list sei as nama? Is that another word for the kanji?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ozurdin

I got this wrong for adding "now" to the end.... come on!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rayqun

i will not ask this my waifu, not going to jail


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RVREVO

Sei was missing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SmashBound

"Sei" came up as "Nama" for me so I didn't click it but got it wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattDixon

My line was "Nanen sai desuka" but my prompts were "nanen", "nama", "desuka"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yasser485

Where's the (sei) then?!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Idraote

Americanisms should be avoided in a course aimed at a global audience. This is also not a useful question to learn as school systems vary throughout the world and being a first year in a place is different from being a first year somewhere else.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jeffernand1

There is a bug where "sei" is missing in nannen sei desuka


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeanne173543

"sei" was incorrectly stated as nama.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daylight94979

If you click on 生 in the word bank Duo's TTS will interpret it as the word 生 pronounced なま which means "Raw" or "Fresh". 生 only becomes "せい" when it's part of a compound word like 年生.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yassin708312

Sentense incorrect

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