"日本人ですか?"

Translation:Are you Japanese?

June 14, 2017

43 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Orion722

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BizzyLiz1

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.


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

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


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

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris.Guillen

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


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

@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 ;) )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AustinBerm3

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


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

@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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bradjackson5

Ka turns any statement into a question. In English we change word order for questions vs statements but in Japanese the word order stays the same an you just use the ka particle.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ruben.Araujo

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


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

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。」


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki-kun

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.


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

Is " Are you a Japanese ", still right?


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanielGarr830049

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.


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

I put, "Are you of Japanese Culture?" Oh how very wrong I was.


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

Well, being "of Japanese culture" is really not the same as being Japanese.


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

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?" ?


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

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


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

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.)


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

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 ;)


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

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


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

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.


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

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


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

why did you say "ie"?


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mia242787

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


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

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".


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

日本語 and 日本人 are the same thing?


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

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").


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

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


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

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.


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

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


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

"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.


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

Uhhhhh... LOL are you from japan?


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

are you from Japan? - 日本出身ですか。( にほんしゅっしんですか。)

is distinct from

are you Japanese? - 日本人ですか。( にほんじんです。)

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36464958/Shushin-Vs-Jin


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nxcontreras5

I put "is he japanese?" And was Correct, how cam we difference you fom he/she


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

Japanese is highly contextual. however, exercises in general don't have any context. so it is technically possible for this question to be referencing anyone ( i, you, he, she, we, they... etc )

without more information it is most likely that statements are being made about yourself the speaker ( i ), and questions are directed at a second person ( you )

to explicitly state otherwise you would introduce the question with [ subject ] は eg

彼は日本人ですか。 ・ 彼女は日本人ですか。


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris.Guillen

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................. !


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

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 ;)


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

You're its same as You are fix this duolingo


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

This sentence page is for the question 日本人ですか "Are you Japanese?"
"You are" and "You're" would be used in a statement format, so both would be considered incorrect here.

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