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"Are you a foreigner?"


June 25, 2017



what is the difference between gaikokujin and gaijin? I had always heard the latter before this course.


外人 is like "outsider" and sounds slightly rude in my opinion. Adding 国 makes it sounds like "a person from outside the country", which sounds better


外人 is definitely used as a slur.


Is this a common question in 日本? In the US (at least in my experience), it seems pretty rude to ask somebody directly if they're a foreigner. Most of the time, you can infer that yourself based on accent/appearance/etc. and then you might ask something like "I notice you have an accent. Where are you from?".


In my experience, it's not common at all to be asked directly if you are a foreigner. I have personally had this exact sentence directed at me a couple of times, but it's always when someone is surprised to learn that I'm not Japanese (I have Asian features, often being mistaken for a Japanese person, and I have enough Japanese to pull it off for a little while at least).

However, it's also worth noting that this question can mean "is he/she a foreigner", in which case it's a lot more frequently used.


Foreigner is used directly or sometimes indirectly. If someone is taking to you they would usually ask "where are you from?" However, foreigner is a would used a lot to refer to a person not from Japan or not from Japanese decent. For this reason, I think Duo should use "where are you from" or "are you from here" because it sounds less negative because like other people said it is not as bad as saying gaijin but from my experience in Japan hearing the word repeatedly get very tedious and can sometimes be just as bad.


Maybe it was me, but the kids always said we were foreigners. We would just come and start counting our legs (which amounts to ippon, nihon) and then say, 'iie nipponjin desu'. Of course, they would call us fools and we would all laugh.

[deactivated user]

    Immigrations officer icebreaker question LOL


    お外国人ですか? Is this wrong?


    Yeah, why isn't there a honorific? Could someone explain please?


    海外人ですか is marked incorrect.

    What's the difference between (外国人) gaikokujin and (海外人) kaigaihito(?)? Lately, I've watched Japanese streams, and they referred foreign viewers as kaigaihito rather than gaikokujin.


    Interesting suggestion. I haven't heard 海外人 before, but I can't exactly claim to be "down with what the kids are saying", if that's even the way to say it anymore.

    My guess is that you may be hearing 海外人, which means "overseas person" or "a person from overseas". This one I have heard before and it's mostly interchangeable with 外国人, although 海外の人 is perhaps considered slightly more politically correct.

    The difficulty with the -人 (jin) suffix in Japanese is that it doesn't just indicate a person's nationality, but it is also strongly linked to a person's ethnicity; after all, Japan has an extremely homogeneous population, where 98% of Japanese citizens are ethnically Japanese as well. So, not only does 外国人 have connotations of "outsiders" (literally: 外 = outside 国 = country 人 = person), it also means someone of a different race. While not as strong as the concept of a "master race" adopted by the Nazis, especially not in modern society, Japanese people have a lot of pride in their ethnicity, to the extent that suggesting someone is from a different race can be tantamount to a slur. In my experience, this is never something malicious (though I have heard stories that were), and I'm more surprised than anything else that many Japanese people don't seem to notice the implications of their comments.

    On the other hand, the -の人 (no hito) pattern isn't nearly as evocative. It means "a person from/of ~" and is used for many mundane and pedestrian things, e.g. 会社の人 ("a person from the company"), 新聞の人 ("a person from the newspaper"), or 隣の人 ("next-door neighor" or "the person beside [it]"). So 海外の人 means just that - a person from overseas, with no comment on their ethnicity and the implications that go along with it.

    At least, that's my take on it. Like I said, this is just from my experience with these words, and I'm no longer very up-to-date with the zeitgeist surrounding "foreigners" in Japan, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Oh, 海外の人ですか is probably not accepted as an answer at the moment either, but I think it should be so you should report it for the course developers to add.


    I've seen those streams too (yes), but I heard they use something that sounds more like 海外にき (being にき a short for 兄貴 -aniki ) translated usually to "overseas bro/s", implying that is a friendly informal way to refer to foreigners. Don't remember 海外人, tho, but it could be correct too.


    We keep getting different pronunciations for kanji and it's really irritating, because it's not even consistent. When you click on the kanji, sometimes the voice uses the original Chinese pronunciation of the kanji, other times they use the current Japanese.

    It's really confusing when learning new characters.


    Why is the kanji 外 pronounced as がい instead of そと?


    Kanji have multiple different readings used in different words.
    Most commonly the kun-yomi (native Japanese reading) is used when a kanji is by itself 外・そと・outside
    And the on-yomi (Sino-Japanese reading) is used when a kanji is in a compound word 外国人・がいこくじん・foreigner
    (There are many exceptions to this though, as well as multiple of each type of reading, so it's best to just learn the reading of the full word it is used in)
    In this same word though,
    国 is pronounced くに by itself to mean "country", but in a compound is こく・ごく
    人 is pronounced ひと by itself to mean "person", but is used here as a suffix to denote nationality pronounced じん


    Why is there no article? I wrote 外国人がですか and could also imagined 外国人をですか but no article at all?


    You cannot place a particle directly before the copula です
    です is used in making A=B sentences, equating one thing with another using an 「AはBです」structure.
    A is your subject marked by は or が, the thing you will be describing, and B is the description of A, directly linked to です
    私は学生です [A: Me] = [B: Student] "I am a student"
    花がきれいです [A: Flowers] = [B: Pretty] "Flowers are pretty"
    If the subject/topic can be understood through context it can also be omitted.
    「私は」外国人です [A:(me)] = [B: Foreigner] "I am a foreigner"
    「あなたは」外国人ですか [A: (you)] = [B: Foreigner?] "Are you a foreigner?"

    外国人がです reads as incomplete. You've marked "Foreigner" as your subject with が but you haven't said anything about the foreigner. You have "The foreigner is.....?" with your B description missing.

    を marks the direct object of a sentence, the thing a verb is acting on. (You throw the ball, you eat the food, you read the book). です is stative, it can't directly act on anything so it can't take an object (it is not a transitive verb).



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