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  5. "ジョンさんはアメリカ人ですか。"


Translation:Is Mr. John an American?

June 8, 2017



The sentence isnt pronounced as a question.


Pronunciation of questions can be different from one language to another. The important thing to listen for is か which marks this as a question at the end of the sentence. (Literally, “Mr. John is American, or?”, but we don’t phrase questions that way in English.)


The question isn't whether intonation is a linguistic universal, but whether it works like that in Japanese. Based on the Duolingo's speech synthesis, the majority of Japanese questions are marked with a rising intonation. But this is a misleading outlier, which isn't.


Then, I will be more clear: rising intonation is not required for Japanese questions, though it is possible. https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/1rsimg/does_japanese_have_a_phrasefinal_rising_question/


Where's the question mark? The sentence is pronounce as an affirmation not as a question


We know that the sentence is question even if it has not question mark. Originally Japanese sentence didn't have question mark.

(certainly pronunciation is a bit...?)


Huh, didnt know that!


Normally you wont see question marks too often early on in beginner japanese or at all, but make sure to look at the character "か" at the end of the sentence, in this position it signifies a question is being asked. For example: "あなたは学生ですか" Which translates to : "are you a student?" , the か takes place of where we would normally see a question mark in latin based languages


It's fascinating. I've always thought most East Asian languages were meant to be very tonal (in that they use tone to convey information that western languages use words to communicate). But with Japanese, it seems like the complete opposite.

Whereas we English speakers use an interrogative tone to express uncertainty, Japanese uses the a grammatical word "か". Granted we often put our English linking verbs before the subject in questions — "Is the there?" vs "She is there." — but that structure isn't always there to help.

There are even focus-indicators in Japanese, so you do don't have to use tonal emphasis to convey post-lexical information. The particles は and が can make the difference between saying "He is HUNGRY." and "HE is hungry."


The usage of "Mr. John" in this example (and a couple of others) is very misleading. You would never translate this to English in this way since John is generally perceived as a first name, not a surname. At least they allow "Is John an American?", but if they used an actual surname (such as Johnson or Smith) in this example, it would make more sense to prefix it with "Mr." in the English translation.

It is more important to get across that さん is NOT the equivalent of "Mr/Mrs." and instead a normal part of addressing anyone (or anything) by ANY name (given, middle, surname, alias, etc...). You use name suffixes (さん, くん, ちゃん, 姫, etc...) when referring to or introducing someone else (or yourself in third-person, although that's considered childish). You never use name suffixes when introducing yourself.

The question mark isn't that much of an issue. The ending particle か is basically a question mark in and of itself, although it probably should be included when teaching English-speakers to prevent confusion in the first place.


Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering about the さん Mr/Mrs. thing. Well put.


Totally agreed.


Do they not use question marks in Japanese? I feel like I've seen one in a previous exercise though.


Sometimes we use question mark.
But we know this sentence is interrogative sentence without question mark.

sometimes we use question mark instead of 'ですか'.


Are there any specific cases where it'd be better to not use a question mark or is it just a personal preference type thing?


They do most of the time, only in really formal texts do they not use them. I don't see why there isn't one in this sentence, though.


Japanese use question marks but the か at the end also marks it as a question.


I've seen question marks before


Whether there is a question mark is irrelevant as that is a Westernization, we need to look for か


So according to the comment section, I have learnt that: 1.The sentence can be a question, even if the intonation is not indicating so. 2. If there is a "か" at the end, the sentence is definitely a question. Hope this sums up everything.


why is ' mr John are you a american' wrong?


(A) "Is Mr. John an american?" "Mr. John" is the subject and thus "John san wa" [John san wa amerika jin des ka?]

(B) "Mr. John, are you an american?" "You" is the subject and thus "John san, anata wa". Moreover, now "Mr. John" is in the vocative and either gets no particle (most common) or gets the vocative particle and becomes "John san yo". [John san (yo), anata wa amerika jin des ka?]


Mr. is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence and “a” changes to “an” before a vowel sound. Otherwise, I don’t know how you would tell if someone is talking directly to him or about him. Perhaps a native speaker could explain?


This is symbol of interrogation か


I put: “Is Ms. John an American?” to see if it would take. It did not. So I assume therefore that さん does not technically equate to “Mr.” or “Ms.” because if it did, it could technically be a “Ms. John” seeing as last names typically follow the “Mr.” or “Ms.” marker. Therefore, John in this sentence is a first name, not a last name. Any additional insight?


Ms or Mr should both be accepted ( report it! ) but they are only rough approximations and are used to show respect or politeness. San can be added on to lots of things first names, last names, titles... etc.


Okay Duolingo, my patience is wearing thin. Knock off the sexism and transphobia, and start accepting any gendered suffix for san in the entire Japanese program, and fix it now.


Maybe I missed the tips section, but are spaces optional or nonexistent in Japanese writing?


No spaces between words in Japanese.


I was wondering the same. ありがとうございます!


Given how "ka" is frequently used to tag yes/no questions such as this one, wouldn't the translation "(Mr.) John is an american, right?" be valid? Or does Japanese have another mechanic that better parallels tag-questions in English?


Ne? Is used for the tag question. It has even managed to seep into English usage, ne?


There isn't the question mark in the Japanese version


The question mark is western punctuation and is not necessary in Japanese. The last character marks this as a question:



I put "Mr. John is an American?" Shouldn't that be accepted?


"Mr. John is an American" isn't a question, and even if you put a "?" at the end you still need an "is" at the beginning to translate this into proper English.

That said, at least in American English, this could be accepted in a certain context. For example:

Bill: "Mr. John was born in California 10 years ago."

Fred: "Mr. John is an American?" (said with rising pitch at the end)

Bill: "Yeah."

That said, 2 things should still be changed: the "Mr." should be dropped if he's a friend or around the same age as the speaker, because Mr/Ms aren't quite the same as -san, and a word like "So" should be added. "So, [Mr.] John is an American?"


I think it should. It is a declarative question. (although I have no idea how Japanese would handle that and maybe therefore it should not be accepted if Japanese also has a certain way to express that)


The sentence written in japanese isn't ended on question mark so I was wondering why the translation is asking


That is right. The question mark is a westernism and is not necessary in Japanese, scroll up for more information.


the sentence is not even with a question mark


Western punctuation is not required. The last character indicates it is a question.


Why is "Is John American?" incorrect? Are there different ways to express in Japanese "Is John American" vs "Is John an American"?


"mr john" is awkward translation into english! especially because in the previous lessons john san and maria san were translated as john and maria respectively. this is another example of the potential benefit of displaying complete answer banks


It's not even a question! This one was hard.


か at the end is what makes it a question.


I think that when in a conversation they still raise their voice at the end of the sentence as if there was a auestion mark, right?


Not in every language, especially languages in which raising your voice makes the word a different word such as any language with tones. か at the end of the sentence makes this a question.


Sneaky Duo keeps tricking me when I don't see question mark. This is the first exercise where I got it right on first try and we're months in now.


Yay! You noticed か as the question marker?!!!


Gah! This "type what you hear" sentence kept getting marked wrong without the Japanese period, which is not offered in the word bank. It wasn't until I changed to the keyboard option instead to type it in Japanese AND included a period that it would mark it as correct. 。。。。。。。


What is the は for?


は is a particle (pronounced wa, not ha) that marks John as the subject of the sentence.


Just as a side note, は is only pronounced "wa" when it's a participle. In other uses it is pronounced "ha".


"Mr John " is incorrect English.


“Mr. Johnson” is much more common for a last name, but who are we to say that “John” cannot be someone’s last name.


It's because Mr/Ms isn't technically a perfect translation of -san. Duo just teaches it as being so because it's the closest we have in English to it. Read above comments for further explanation.


Does every Japanese question end with か ?


Usually, but not always.


Is Mr.John is an American? Why is it using さん now? What are we supposed to write?!


You would not have “is” twice. “Is Mr. John an American?” is allowed as well as “Is John an American?” This is added to any name as a polite way of addressing someone by name.


How can you tell then its a question?


The last character indicates that it is a question.


The か at the end makes it a question. In Japanese, most questions end in か and may also have a ? but not always.


Okay, I got it, thank you


Do we need a question mark?


No, it is not necessary, though it might be there. The last character indicates a question.


Shouldn't it be じょんさん が* あめりかじんですか


I have typed "ジョンさんはアメリカ人ですか。” using my keyboard and then it got me wrong? I'm new to the japanese keyboard, perhaps because of it?


On iPhone and it keeps autocorrecting mr to me. Even though it’s not technically a typo it is close enough that it should be caught as such instead of being marked incorrect


That is because it should be “Mr.” and Duolingo only allows one typo if it does not make another word.

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