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.
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?
It depends on the context. Be careful using なんだよ because it's very casual and would only suit a somewhat confrontational situation, e.g. someone is staring at you and you want to know what their problem is (in which case, なんなんだよ would be more natural).
If someone was holding a box or something, and you want to know what it is, なんだよ is NOT the right sentence to use. In this situation, pointing to the box and saying 何ですか would be correct.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
Living in Japan, people used Nan desu ka and na ni for different reasons and different situations. They may mean "what is it" or "what" but they can't be used interchangeably. For example: if you come to a store and ask an employee for help, they typically could answer what is it, nan desu ga, but saying nani wouldn't be appropriate. if your child, however, is crying and carrying on, saying "nani" to him or her would be typical to try and understand what they want or need.
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"
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.
Not quite. です is the verb "to be" and か is the interrogative particle that turns a statement into a question.
I am a student.
Watashi wa gakusei desu.
Am I a student?
Watashi wa gakusei desu ka?
Professor Tanaka speaks English.
Tanaka sensei wa eigo o hanashimasu.
Does Professor Tanaka speak English?
Tanaka sensei wa eigo o hanashimasu ka?
You can't have the verb by itself in Japanese, and you can't just phrase things in Japanese the same way we do in English. These are two very different, completely unrelated languages with very different grammar rules, among other things.
If you're asking a straight-up question because you don't know the answer, you would say そうですか？ (Sou desu ka?), which is rendered in English as "Is that so?" or "Is this true?" or variations thereupon. If you're asking because you want someone to confirm your feelings, you would say そうですね？ (Sou desu ne?), which is rendered in English as "Isn't it?" or variations thereupon.
- Japanese is easy.
Nihongo wa kantandesu.
- It is? / Is it? I think it's difficult.
Sou desu ka? Muzukashī to omoimasu.
Japanese is easy, don't you think?
Nihongo wa kantandesu! Sou desu ne?
or as a tag question roughly similar to ours:
Nihongo wa kantandesu, desu ne?
But the ですか / ですね can't stand on its own.
Next time something like that happens, take a screenshot and file a bug report:
You should be able to switch to keyboard mode to type in the answer without the limitations of tiles.