"何ですか?"

Translation:What is it?

June 6, 2017

69 Comments


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

Isn't 何ですか more like "what is it?" than just "what?"

June 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shadow15243

Yes, but what and what is it are pretty much the same thing.

June 8, 2017

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

So just to be clear, you're saying I can use this interchangably:

  • to ask if somebody needs something from me, if I see them staring?

  • to inquire in general about an unfamiliar object, to nobody in particular?

  • to try and get somebody to finish a statement they have stopped prematurely?

Gotta make sure I'm using this one right.

November 16, 2017

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

and 何 is "what?" alone so yeah

January 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hannaha70093

何 is what on it's own but it can also take the meaning of what is it. The ですか is there to make the phrase formal. If you are speaking with friends or family, then using the casual form, 何, is acceptable.

June 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JosiaSerad1

On its own, how come its pronounced "nani" but if you formalized it, it's pronounced becomes "nan des ka"?

May 12, 2019

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

Yes, but they are used the same. All least in Japanese they are.

June 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IWannaLearn3

それは何ですか

October 27, 2017

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

それわ なにですか or それは何ですか?

July 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

It's それは何ですか?

それ = that thing by you
は = topic particle
何 = what
です = is
か = interrogative particle

As for that thing by you, what is it?
https://www.coscom.co.jp/learnjapanese101/learnjapanese104.html

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/charlie901227

わ isnt a particle its は but pronounced like わ

September 14, 2018

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

It would be それはなんですか. The わ is written as は here and なに becomes なん

September 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrandonRig1250

It accepted what is it. (Nani) would be "what." Watch shows in japanese anime is great if youre into it. One piece is actually great to watch and learn from. Japanese pod 101 says its the best.

January 27, 2018

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

yeah but... but... 896 episodes...

I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

July 17, 2019

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

The translation above reads "what is it?". I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Has Duo changed the translation? Was it previously just 'what?'

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shirel.tai

Why is 何 pronounced as nan?

June 6, 2017

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

For pretty much all kanji there are multiple readings, normally with at least two (one a Chinese origin and one from a Japanese origin). In most cases there is only on correct answer in the readings, but in this case you can generally go with either 'nani' or 'nan', depending on which sounds right. I'm sure there is probably some sort of rule, but generally go with whatever flows better while saying it in this particular case.

June 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/why937636

Use "nan" if the following word starts with t, d, or n. Use "nani" in any other case. But ofc there are also exceptions ..

July 1, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Minaki.S

so basically it is like vowel rule right?

July 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

It's less to do with vowels and more to do with alveolar consonants.

http://www.ipachart.com/

July 18, 2018

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

Native speakers shorten words by leaving off the last vowels usually "i" and "u". When speaking you'll hear "nan" more often than "nani", unless they are simply saying "what".

June 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geoffreyhu6

This is rather wrong. I and U sounds mostly only get dropped due to standard pronunciation rules. This is a matter of Kanji readings. 何 has three readings, なに, なん, and カ, each with their own time and place to be used.

June 8, 2017

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

The reading should match what it is they are currently teaching and quizzing us on.
How else can we learn? Introduce other readings appropriately as they are being taught. They need to have a separate recording for each reading, and choose the recording to match the lesson.

I found this particularly bad in an earlier lesson with the character that's a rectangle with a vehicle live thru it. Can't remember right now what it means. They taught us that character in the same lesson with a particular pronunciation. Then they quizzed us on which character makes that around. But clicking on that character always some a completely different sound! It was women starting with"n" sound. Line "naki" or something like that (I don't remember). And I cannot remember at all even what sound they "taught" us for the character - but it wasn't even a little bit similar. Very Confusing! And the questions essentially had no correct answer.

June 24, 2017

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

That irritated me too. It was 中, with ”なか” as the pronunciation sample, but that wasn't one of the choices. The right answer ended up being ちゅうbecause they were eventually going to use the on'yomi reading of it since it would be in the word for China, 中国.

July 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jude650174

Yeah I totally hit the button to report the audio being incorrect before I realised what was going on >-

June 28, 2018

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

Well when put in a sentence the い in 何 is kind of dropped. As in the sentence 何ですか. But by itself the kanji is read なに。

June 9, 2017

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

Why did you write two readings in hiragana but the last one in katakana? Is it because the last one is based on a Chinese reading?

August 31, 2017

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

That's exactly right. I think the convention in most kanji dictionaries is to write the on'yomi or Chinese-based reading in katakana and the kun'yomi in hiragana.

Most of the time though, when giving the readings for kanji in the context of a sentence, it's common to just use hiragana (if it's written in small script above the the kanji, it's called furigana), regardless of whether it's on'yomi or kun'yomi.

September 5, 2017

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

I saw it as clarifying thi pronunciation as "nani" vs "nan"

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

i and u are typically dropped/devoiced when they're surrounded by voiceless consonants.

June 27, 2017

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

I keep hearing rules like this, but nobody says what a "voiceless constant" is!
Therefore such comments are useless.
I looked it up, but the explanations I found were long and very confusing.
Even if I do try look it up again (and the time figure it out), it'd be Great to have a quick reminder (cheat sheet like) reminder each alongside such comments..

August 23, 2018

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

What's a "voiceless constant"?

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

Consonant, not constant.

There are two basic kinds of sounds: vowels and consonants.

Vowels are sounds that leave your mouth with the airflow unimpeded. The different vowel sounds are just a matter of the shape of your mouth.

Consonants are sounds that are made by impeding the airflow out of your mouth to varying degrees and in various locations.

B, D, G, F, and S are examples of voiced consonants. You use your voice when you say them.

P, T, K, V, and Z are examples of voiceless (a.k.a. unvoiced) consonants. You don't use your voice when you say them.

http://www.ipachart.com/

August 23, 2018

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

I know it means "what is it" but is it more of a "what's up" or "what is that object"?

July 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

If memory serves, both, although not in the greeting sense. It can mean "What is this thing?" and it can mean "What's the problem?" But I'm not sure how informal the second usage is.

July 6, 2017

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

In terms of the second usage, saying 「何ですか」 can sound confrontational, along the lines of "what are you looking at?" But if you're asking along the lines of "what seems to be the problem", then you're more likely to use a different phrase, namely 「どうしたんですか」 "what's wrong" or 「何かありましたか」"did something happen"

July 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

ありがとう。

July 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jesse922038

Would it be rude to say this if you didnt hear what someone said and wanted them to repeat it?

August 1, 2017

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

I wouldn't say that this sentence in and of itself is rude, but saying it in that situation makes it very clear that you simply weren't paying attention to the conversation, especially if you just blurt this sentence out without any other modification. For example, 今のは何ですか = "What was that just now?" would soften it a bit because it sounds like you were following everything up until the last point.

If you didn't hear clearly, or heard but couldn't understand, there are better ways to ask someone to repeat themselves.

August 2, 2017

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

Man, your comments really help. Thank you!

August 25, 2017

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

Does 何か work as the informal? If so, would it be 'nanka' or 'nanika'?

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

I've heard the informal as simply "Nani?"

October 21, 2017

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

As @Rae.F says, the informal is often simply 「何?」 (なに?), although it is extremely common (depending on the situation) for people, especially young people, to say 何それ? or 何あれ?

As for the pronunciation of 何か, both nanka and nanika work and both mean the same thing ("something", not "what"), but nanka is the casual/spoken version. Nanka is used very often in a way similar to "like" or "kind of" is used for vagueness/uncertainty in English.

November 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joelperry7

Why is it that the "i" at the end of nani isnt pronounced?

December 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

If the next word starts with t, d, or n, then it's shortened to "nan". Otherwise, it's "nani".

December 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenJammin234988

Nan! Desu! Ka! Desu ka! Nan-desu-ka! (Anyone? Rock alt hit from 1990?)

June 4, 2018

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

It accepted "Wat". Yes, "Wat".

June 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katy594965

You can actually tap on the characters and it will tell you what they mean

July 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ivanRamos916787

What is the difference between "nani"? And "nandeska"?

February 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

It's kind of equivalent to the difference between "What?" and "What was that?"

February 19, 2018

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

could you say "何?" besides "何ですか?" or "なに?"

March 8, 2018

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

"何?" is pronounced "なに?" You can write either one, and it will mean the same thing, but there's only one way to say them ;)

March 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/10G.University13

if nani is 何. Why is 何 pronounced as nan (なん) ? "なん ですか"? What I'm reading is nani desu ka (何 ですか) すみません, わかりません。

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

Because /n/ and /d/ are both alveolar sounds, so being pronounced together like that makes the /i/ go away.

June 6, 2018

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

Isn’t か here supposed to be the question mark?

September 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Umut550995

Is it wrong if I just write what is?

February 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

Yes, it is wrong.

February 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel503809

Is 何ですか a polite way to say it or is there a special way to say it to elderly people or something

April 2, 2019

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

You could say 何 でしょうか? What could it be? Bit gentler than a straight "what is it?" and a little bit more polite.

April 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JordanJone573422

So do you not say the full word "nani" in this sentence and just say nan or is it just the way the speaker is saying it

April 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

In isolation, the word is pronounced "nani". When the next word starts with sounds such as "d", it's pronounced "nan".

April 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arkngl94

The translation for "何ですか?" couldn't be "what happen?" too?

June 28, 2019

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

No. 'What happen' doesn't make sense in English. You would say instead "what happened". The Japanese for that is どう した (you'll note する ie. the verb, is in the past tense just as it is with the English phrase).

June 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bamelinlover13

I have seen a few translation in animes where 何 can mean "What do you mean" or "What does it mean." Has anyone noticed this alternate translation or am I wrong?

December 2, 2017

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

In those cases, I imagine the original line was simply 「何!?」So it's not that the kanji 何 means "What do you mean", but rather, that is the implication of the sentence (literally "what!?"). The kanji itself just means "what".

December 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MonikaHill3

How would you use thing in a sentence?

May 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2035

"何ですか?" is the whole sentence. It's the equivalent to "What is it?"

May 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/setsuk4

I'm guessing "nan de?" is more informal.

November 14, 2017

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

Good try. 何で? (nan de?) is more informal, but actually means "Why?"

The informal version of this sentence is usually just 何?(なに?)

December 6, 2017
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