1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "日本人ですか?"


Translation:Are you Japanese?

June 14, 2017



What does ですか mean? It throws me off every time.


です is equivalent to "to be/is/am/are" in English, and か is a particle used to signify a question. So, "日本人ですか?" literally translates in English to "Japan-person are?", with the "you" implied by the question.


So how would you know if it is- you/ she/ I/ he...?


By the context. If someone randomly comes up to you and says this, without pointing (or making discreet eye motions) at someone or seeming like they're having an existential crisis, you can probably safely assume they are asking you if you're Japanese.

If this question comes up in the middle of a conversation, presumably the conversation up to that point will shed some light as to which it should be.


What should I say if I'm having an existential crisis and am wondering if I am Japanese??


@Chris.Guillen You could say the exact same thing, just point at yourself while you do it. (Sidenote: Japanese people will point at their nose, rather than their chest, when referring to themselves, so you could just pay attention to where you point to get your answer ;) )


@JoshuaLore9 would ,, 私は日本人ですか '' Work as well (oof this is a old post but)


@AustinBerm3 Yes, that would work as well. If anything, because 私は日本人ですか is a pretty uncommon question, it would probably be more natural to emphasize 私 as the subject in this way. The answer I gave was more about continuing the conversation about the role of context in conveying the meaning in Japanese.


Thank you! This helps a lot! :)


When it ends in "ka" it means they are asking a question so they must be asking something


Something like:are you?


Oh man, I have no idea what's going on.


Basically the section for dealing with introductions about where you're from or your nationality (Nihonji desu = (I) am Japanese, Nihon shoshshi desu = (I) am from Japan, Gaksei desu = I am a student), now has questions by adding -ka onto the end of desu, turning it into a question (Nihonji desuka? = Are (you) Japanese, Igresu shoshshi desuka? = Is (he) from England/Britain?).


I actually think the question mark should be taken out as in Japanese that is the purpose of "ka".


That's an interesting point. In formal writing, I believe you're correct, in that questions will also end with a period 。

I'm not a native speaker, so I'm only guessing, but I think the question mark denotes a questioning tone of voice, while the か represents the grammatical idea of a question.

For example, in casual speech/communication, one could say/type 「日本人?」 to mean the same as 「日本人ですか。」


As far as I understand it, the "?" denotes the intonation in a sentence without か to be one of a question since that cannot be shown otherwise when being written, while か already marks the question already, so no "?" is used.


Where and how can i download an Japanese keyboard?


no idea how long it's been since you asked, but in mobile (Android at least) you can download the Gboard app, if your phone doesn't have a native Japanese keyboard setting, it comes with an array of languages from you to choose from, it even includes the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)

In desktop, Windows should have a Japanese keyboard you can enable going in Control Panel - under Clock, Language and Region - Add a language - Add a language - then select in the list the preferred language, in this case 本日語 (Japanese) - Add

In Windows 10 the process is a little different but way easier as you can simply search for the setting on the menu, inputting "language" should return the desired configuration window.


Very difficult, but not giving up


Is " Are you a Japanese ", still right?


though i would never say this in English I too am curious if this is an acceptable or possible translation?


I'm not sure if Duo would (or should) count it as correct. It's kind of on the border line between "correct" and "incorrect"; and since the English language has no centralized authority, a definitive answer might not be possible.

To me, "a Japanese" sounds stylistically odd, but is completely clear in its meaning. So I'm leaning towards saying it's correct, but awkward.


I put "are you from Japan" and got it wrong.. why?


One can be from Japan, but not Japanese. Or one can be Japanese, but not from Japan.

This question asks if someone is 日本人 = "a Japanese person".


same. it's confusing because previously I used "I am from the US/China/Japan" for America/Chiugoku/Nihon jin desu and Duolingo always used to say it was correct. therefore I have 2 questions: What is the correct phrase for I am from Japan"? and What is the difference between "jin" and "shiushin" (sorry, I dont have a Japanese keyboard layout)? I previously thought jin was used for "from", but in this thread I found out this is a "person". Thank you.


Found out:

JIN is for a person's nationality (American, Chinese, Japanese etc.) and SHIUSSHIN is for where this person comes from (from the US, from China, from Japan etc.)

Have a nice day, everyone!


It accepts "Am I japanese?"


Shouldn't this accept several answers since there's no context? Or maybe give a context/subject to answer with? Wouldn't this literally mean "Is Japanese?" ?


No because 人 "jin" means person so its like "a japanese person " basically


Ah, that's not what I'm referring to, I'm referring to the omission of the subject. The sentence translated to English could mean "Are you Japanese?", "Is he/she Japanese?", "Are they Japanese?" (probably unless there's some exception to plural), perhaps even "Am I Japanese?", but taken literally it means "Is Japanese (person)?".

(Duolingo does accept the other meanings listed above when you have to type it out but it might better reinforce what the sentence means in Japanese if a context was given with the question.)


You're right, the subject can be pretty much anyone in the right context.

But this is the case with a large number of sentences in Japanese (they omit the subject A LOT), so I think Duo assumes you will assume the context of "I am saying this, as a stand alone statement".

Also, there is no exception for the plural ;)


日本語 and 日本人 are the same thing?


No, both can mean "Japanese", but the first one you wrote is the Japanese language (語 = "language"), while the latter refers to Japanese people (人 = "person").


It doesn't accept the sentence without kanji "にほんじんですか" :c


Why is 'are you from Japan wrong here, when the game accepts it for the same constellation with' are you British / are you from the uk'?


Does the Japanese か work like "ba" in Filipino or Tagalog?


I put " are you a japanese" then give me wrong answer


When is that chin used? Sometimes it is used, sometimes not.


It's "jin". And it means person. It's usually used with countries so you could refer to nationalities. There are other examples I can't think of, but you don't go around using it everywhere, so you won't be seeing it always.


Nihon = Japan, jin = person, nihon jin = japanese person. ie, Japanese. America jin = America person. ie, American.


why did you say "ie"?


I think Robb meant "i.e.", which is a commonly used abbreviation of the Latin phrase "id est" meaning "in other words".


This is rather informal...if you don't know the person you usually say "nihon no kata", otherwise you could be considered rude...


I wouldn't go so far as to say rude. I agree that 日本の方 is definitely more respectful, but unless the person you are asking is significantly and obviously older than you, or is clearly an important or well-respected individual, or is a customer/client, then 日本人 seems good enough to me.

Even in the situations I mentioned above, if you look/act 外人 (like a foreigner), I feel that Japanese people are very understanding of how complicated their social interactions can be to learn, and don't mind receiving "average politeness" even though they would normally get "above average respectfulness".


I'm glad they teach Kanji, because you can't always rely on Katakana and Hiragana.


Hmm, I'm not quite sure why my, "Are you Japanese?" response was counted incorrect. Well, actually, now I see it. I wrote, "You are Japanese?", which is still technically a correct response and will be reported as suchhhhh................. !


Technically yes, but I believe Duo's modus operandi is to ignore punctuation. I certainly get a great many questions correct even when I don't end the sentence with a period.

That said, "You are Japanese?" sounds like it's meant to sound incredulous and thus 日本人なんですか? seems like a better translation ;)


It would be very helpful to have a lesson early focusing on nouns


The pronounciation on this one is particularly bad. I'm disappointed that they used a Chinese speaker instead of a native Japanese speaker to teach pronounciation.


It's sounds completely fine to me, if a tad robotic. I have no idea where you got the Chinese speaker idea from; I have heard Chinese speakers speak fluent Japanese and their accents don't sound anything like this recording.


While there are many native Chinese speakers who are fluent in Japanese, the subtleties of inflection are very difficult to mimic. I got Chinese because the inflection and the syllables that are stressed by the voices Duolingo utilizes are reminiscent of someone who's first language is Chinese. This is not just my spectation as someone learning Japanese. This is from someone who is conversationally fluent and speaks it at home. I also showed my Japanese mother (native speaker who was born and raised in Japan) who without hesitation said Chinese. Not meant to be an insult to Chinese speakers who teach/speak Japanese. I just think that in order to hear the proper inflection, a native Japanese speaker should be used. I commented on this specific example because the stressed syllables was so off and this was one of the worst offenders. To be more specific, at "jin", the pitch of the voice lifts up. This is incorrect. It should be relatively flat and unvaried.


That's fair enough. I agree with you that the recordings don't sound natural and they should have used a native Japanese speaker, but I assumed that everything was computer-generated.

I also speak Japanese conversationally at home, though only recently, but I confirmed with my partner, who is a native speaker born and raised in Japan, that the intonation on the recording sounds like a Chinese speaker. Pronunciation-wise though, as in the way each sound is formed (not how it's stressed), the recording sounds fine and not like how Chinese accents sound, at least in my experience. Perhaps my way of thinking isn't fully Japanese, but my first thought on hearing this was "it sounds like a computer", not "it sounds like a Chinese speaker".


Perhaps it is computer-generated, but even then, the intonation is poor and is close to someone with a Chinese accent. For a teaching app, even computer-generated voices should have the proper pronunciation.

I would argue that my usage of pronunciation is not incorrect. What you are describing with "the way each sound is formed" is enunciation. Pronunciation, as I used it, is how the words are spoken. To pull a quote from the internet... "Pronunciation refers to the ability to use the correct stress, rhythm, and intonation of a word in a spoken language". Feel free to google enunciation vs pronunciation yourself. Certainly, the usage of intonation is more concise, but this is nitpicking trivial word choice for something already correct.

I think the biggest problem with this is that most people who use this app have little/no/limited Japanese language exposure. Those who do not have a good idea of what correct pronunciation sounds like will not be able to note the intonation flaws. But because that it the case, is it not even more important to have the correct intonation in this learning app? To provide the appropriate exposure and to teach it?


Sorry for the huge wall of text! Have a good day :)


No need to apologize :) I have a tendency to write walls of text too.


I always forget the "a". Are you a student? Are you Japanese?


why is are you from japan not also accepted?


Please read the other comments.

One can be from Japan, but not Japanese. Or one can be Japanese, but not from Japan.

This question asks if someone is 日本人 = "a Japanese person".


how does it differ with is?


Is "are you from Japan?" 100% incorrect?


Yes. (Well, you got the "are you" part right, but 50% correct feels too generous given the magnitude of your error.)

Try reading some of the other comments here for more details, but essentially, "Japanese person" (日本人) =/= "from Japan" (日本出身) and "from Japan" (日本出身) =/= "Japanese person" (日本人).

EDIT: In other words, you can be a Japanese person and be from somewhere other than Japan OR be from Japan and be not a Japanese person.


I assume 人 is partical but, what does it actually mean?


I think you mean "particle", and no, 人 is not a particle. It's a kanji which means "person", and in this case, it's being used as a suffix to indicate a nationality.


I believe: "Are you a Japanese?" should be accepted as well.


What is the difference between 'Are you Japanese?' and 'Are you from Japan?' ? Sometimes it takes both and sometimes just 'Are you japanese?'. I don't get the difference in the writhing.


I can't proceed because Duo keeps on rejecting my answer which is "Are you a Japanese" every single time. :(


"The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different results."

Duo should be giving you a suggestion of what the "correct" answer is. "Are you a Japanese" is not exactly correct English; either "Are you Japanese" or "Are you a Japanese person" would be more natural.


Typed in にほんじんですか and got the wrong answer. Note: I've been using hiragana and kanji interchangeably for some answers and they mark it as correct. This was a "Type what you hear" exercise. Did I type something wrong?


"Are you Japanese" and "Are you a Japanese" are the same. Wth


I wrote "Are you a Japanese" and it says incorrect.


I said: are you a japanse? It counts as wrong because of "a" Green owl must be smoking weed


Are you a Japanese not acceptable?


No, why do you think I'm on here?


five seconds before Joseph joestar kicks someones Leg


very difficult, usually got it wrong? right?


Its actually kind of treaky

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