1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "アメリカ人ですか?"


Translation:Are you American?

June 8, 2017



"Ka" is a question marker?


Yup. If you are making an assumption though, then use ね as also explained futher above. "You are an American, right? "


Good to know, in portuguese we also say "né?" to confirm an assumption. It will be easier to remember now that I know that both ways of saying it are very similar. Thanks.


Oh, that's probably why japanese people say lots of "né?" in conversations!


I've heard somewhere that actually it comes from Portuguese


in true it is a lexical coincidence


Exactly. Portuguese né is a conjunction of "não é?" which translates to "is it not?" very handy to remember when learning japanese.


Well here it is very common to say "né" to make a question!


Agreed, they use it in Singhalese aswell :D


So we're able to specifically signal an assumption. Pretty neat.


So the subject is contextual? Could "am I American? " be right in this case?


Yes. It would certainly be a weird question to ask, but yeah, the subject is contextual. This is fairly common in Japanese.


Reading the tips section, it mentioned that it's always assumed the question you ask is directed toward who you are talking to unless otherwise specified. Is that inaccurate?


Both are correct. Japanese is a highly contextual language, but the format on Duolingo is to give you isolated sentences, i.e. without any context.

The Tips section says to assume the context for questions such that the question you ask is directed toward the person you are talking to, unless otherwise specified. Here on Duolingo, this means the topic/subject has been explicitly defined in the sentence itself, using は or が. However, in normal conversation, the topic/subject can be otherwise specified through the context of the conversation.


If the subject is not obvious, you must declare it with 'wa' or 'ga'. Hidding makes the conversation more natural but in some cases its not a good way. Abraco BR


"wa" as in "ha" pronounced like wa?


Little bit complicated to explain but, yes, the は (ha) when used as verb indicator in the sentence, it is pronounced as /wa/. The case is also similar for を (wo), which will be introduced later, being pronounced as /o/


Yeah, if you said it and it could be inferred you were talking about yourself. Otherwise, others may presume you're asking some if they're American.


When studying japanese would be great if you could make all the questions contain translations (after correct/wrong answers) and audio (esp when u translate). Im struggling with all the signs :)


Since we don’t know the context, we don’t know if the question is being asked of one or more people. Thus “are you Americans?” Should be accepted.


Why is "you" if there is a "Desu"


"Desu" is for verbs like "to be," in the present tense, so we use it for, "I am," "she is," "it is," "you are," etc. It doesn't specifically refer to the speaker, though that's what we've seen in most examples so far.

The "ka" makes it a question. "Am I?" "Is she?" "Is it?" "Are you?"


Desu means "to be" and the topic is omitted by context. You say "amerikajin desu" to say "I'm american" (or American be) and since this is a question it makes more sense to translate as "Are you American?" because you usually are aware of your own nationality lol


Can this also mean "He/She is American?"


Yes, it just depends on the context(ex. if you pointed to someone while asking the question, that would make sense).


When you use か the question mark is redundant. No question mark is needed when using か in a sentence.


Any rule behind reading 人 as "hito" or "jin"? I've seen both amerikahito (watashi moa amerikahito des) in an example earlier and amerikajin (this particular example).


Hmmm. As a background 人 has two readings. (じん and にん) for On'yomi, and (ひと) for Kun'yomi.

This is not necessarily always the case but ... You use on'yomi reading when:

  • It belongs to a multi-kanji compound words.

You use kun'yomi reading when:

  • It is followed by okurigana -- hiragana characters forming part of the word.

  • It is a stand-alone word (like the case of the above sentence in question)

  • It is a part of Japanese names and/or places.


I have never seen amerikahito before


Whats the difference between リandり?


Both are pronounced the same way, ri, but the first one リ is the katakana version while り is the hiragana version.


Should "You are American, yes?" be considered correct?


If you're assuming the other person is American, but you're asking just to make sure, then it would be more like

アメリカ人ですよね? or アメリカ人だろうね?

Kind of informal, but that's how it would be asked. There might be a more formal way of doing it, I just don't know it.


I think アメリカ人ですよね? is an acceptably polite way to say it (and probably the best without going over the top), but アメリカ人だろうね? is quite informal.

The most formal version I can think of depends a little on the tone it's said in: 「もしかしてアメリカの方ではありませんか」 which sounds like "by any chance, aren't you an American?"


だろうね is more like "I wonder if you are.....?" : )


Sure. I think it depends a lot on your tone of voice, and these kinds of things are difficult to translate to English consistently.

だろうね could also sound accusatory, e.g. "I bet you're an America, aren't you?" Personally, I would probably use ですかね for "I wonder if you are...?", but like I said, it's incredibly hard to be consistent with these; you just have to feel it :)


At the end of your sentences, when asking, use (か), when reaffirming something, use (ね).


So, if «ka» is the question particle, is the interrogation mark necessary/often used in actual japanese?


アメリカ人ですか? Are you American?


How are you suppost to differenciate me from you,i mean could this even mean "am i american?"?


Yes, it could. This has been addressed many times before in this discussion page. In Japanese, context is the main way to get information about the subject.


So the translation I was given after my mistake was:

Is he American?

However here the actual translation is

Are you American?

I know Japanese depends a lot on context. Are both sentences correct then?

Thanks ^_^


Yes, because the subject is omitted in the Japanese sentence, the "correct" answer depends on the context. However, since we don't have access to the context in these exercises, theoretically any pronoun can be the correct answer.


I’ve tried a number of answers now to this and similar questions. Usually I can say you, they, we, she etc. and they all work.




The "ka" in "amerika" looks different than the "ka" at the end of the sentence. Why?


Because アメリカ (not just the ka) is in katakana as it is a borrowed word. ですか is in hiragana.


If I were referring to an object could I use this same sentence to ask "Is it American?"


Yes, but you wouldn't be able to use the kanji for 'jin', that would be asking if the object is an American person. It would sound more natural to say 'Is this from America?'(これはアメリカ出身ですか, kore wa amerika shusshin desu ka).


Can someone please tell me why you don't pronounce the ''u'' sound in words like desu if it's followed by other words?


As a rule of thumb, the vowels /i/ and /u/ are sometimes dropped when placed between "voiceless consonants" /k/, /s/, /t/, /p/ and /h/ or at the end of an utterance preceded by "voiceless consonants".

Example: すきです [*Romaji: s(u)kides(u)] (Lit. Trans: I like it.)


Always pronounce it 'des' to sound like a native speaker.


Except native speakers sometimes pronounce it as desu.

It varies by region, but pronouncing the "u" can convey a specific image or feeling depending on the context and tone used. It can make one sound aloof, pompous, or dignified.


Would it be right to say "アメリカ 人 も ですか?" For Are you also an American?


Good try, but not quite. Your sentence would mean "The American too?"

Remember that the full sentence (of the exercise) is typically あなたはアメリカ人ですか? where は marks out that you are asking "you = American?" In order to maintain the same grammatical structure, you need to replace は with も, in other words あなたアメリカ人ですか? This time, も does は's job and adds the "also" emphasis to the word that came before it, "you also = American?"

Note that this requires you to explicitly make reference to the subject, but it isn't considered rude to use あなた (unless you know the person's name, in which case you are expected to say "name-さん" to be polite). This is because the use of も is to emphasize the subject, and it's understood that you can't do that while leaving out the thing you want to emphasize.


How do say Canada? Canadian?


Canada = カナダ kanada

Canadian = カナダ人 kanada jin (note that the pronunciation of the first two Japanese syllables don't change, unlike in English)


So you can just leave out わたし、あなた、あのひとat the beginning of a sentence?


The simple answer is yeah, if through context it's obvious what you're talking about. Once you establish what you're talking about you don't necessarily need to be redundant with it, but if you want to change the topic, yeah.


So, literally the sentence is American. The personal pronouns are implied. But, I would imagine 'American?' is as correct as 'Are you American?', especially without the option to include a question mark.


Yes, this could be:

Are you american? Is she American? Are they American? Is he American? Are we American?

Without context we don't know, so these should all be correct. The sentence could be more specific in including a pronoun, but in Japanese it would sound funny, as the personal pronoun isn't used unless needed. In novels, for example, the personal pronoun may be given once, but after that it's assumed the reader knows who we're talking about. If you miss a personal pronoun in a book, on TV in the news or in a movie, you may be lost for a while until it becomes apparent.


Yeah. I suppose this is an interesting question (as in) to include. A Japanese language textbook might introduce/include the sentence structure in a scenario.


@Seattle_scott has already given you a good answer, but I'll just add that the sentence is literally "American is ?" and as he correctly pointed out, a pronoun isn't necessary in Japanese even though it is in English.

However, the verb です / "is" is present and necessary in Japanese, and thus I would suggest that "American?" is an incorrect translation for this exercise. The implication (at least to me, via text on the internet...) of "American?" seems to be a confirmatory, not necessarily an information-seeking, question. Japanese has a different way of dealing with these kinds of questions (for example, using ね instead of か) which would be more appropriate.


I didn't say "American is?" for my literal translation because I wanted it to be understood as a natural English question ... I like my translations as literal as possible while still being understood in English.


I see. That's a difficult approach to take in Japanese-English translation. Japanese is often too context-reliant a language for the literal translation to sound natural in English, and in many cases, "natural-sounding" English may have subtly different nuance or even meaning from the original intention of the Japanese sentence.

To me, a literal translation is a direct word for word conversion and ignores any attempts to make sense in context; the point being a learning exercise to understand the individual components of the original sentence and how they might work together. While literal translation is far from being worthless (it's a vital stepping stone to developing one's understanding of Japanese), it is not and should not be the target of good translation. There is so much more to language and communication than the literal, and a lot can be lost if we try to adhere to it too strongly.

This is just my opinion of course, and I'm far from an expert in Japanese, or translation for that matter. But just so you know where I was coming from in my last comment :)


Questionmark used after desuka ?? I learnt using full stop after it.


Both are acceptable, though I believe the "traditionally correct" way is using a full stop and the use of the question mark has become more common as Japanese people get more and more familiar with English.


Shouldn't "is he an american?" be correct too


I literally wrote "Am I American?" and even if it is grammarly right, it translated me "Is he American?" and told me the one I have written was wrong, why? I know this is a bit weird question, but in japanese if you don't say directly the subject, you can always understand it by the context, here you just can't!


Does it also work for "Are they American?" "Is he...?" "Are we..?" etc? For what cases does it work and why? Thanks


The context should make it obvious who you are talking about - ie. myself, you, john, that person over there, etc. Otherwise you would prefix it with something like 彼らは, 私は, etc. The core phrase works if the context (who you are talking about) is obvious.


Are you from the US? should also be accepted.


It's not asking if someone is from the US - it's literally asking if someone is an American (person).


I’m confused as to the ( utility of the ) distinction here. I seem to remember the initial lesson being picky about this but afterwards it seemed to accept both interchangeably.


アメリカ = America + 人 = person - - - > American (person). ですか - are you?

アメリカから来ましたか - Are you from America? (literally)

OR アメリカしゅっしんですか - Is America your "hometown"? ie. Are you from America?

One is asking about nationality the other is asking about where someone is from, their country of origin, where they live or have lived or where they are visiting from.




how do you tell gender in japanese? (he/she)


Mainly through context.


Bode fått rätt här!


How i know if the sentece is address to you or I?


I feel weird when I don't use articles. It's still correct, I just feel strange omitting it.


Why is it I can translate アメリカ人です as "I am an American Person", but it tells me wrong if I translate アメリカ人ですか to "are you an American person?"


Does American in Japanese refer to a person from the USA or any person in America?


In Japanese, [country]人 refers to a person's ethnicity and/or citizenship. So, アメリカ人 means a person from the USA.


Am i the only one that dose not hear that weird tp looking symbol


Can't hear the か at the end


How can you ask than " am i american? "

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.