Translation:Are you Japanese?
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.
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 ;) )
When it ends in "ka" it means they are asking a question so they must be asking something
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.
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?" ?
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 ;)
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.
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!
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'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.
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".
No , not "nihongo" which is "日本語” this is "nihon-jin desu ka?" ”日本人ですか？” And to me this isn't hard I guess because I already knew this whats hard for me is the time telling ones and the long sentences if this is hard wait until you get to that one but don't worry you will learn it eventually don't give up.
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 ;)
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.