1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "Are you a foreigner?"

"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.


お外国人ですか? Is this wrong?


That's a great question. It probably makes this otherwise somewhat rude-sounding phrase a bit more polite.


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

[deactivated user]

    Immigrations officer icebreaker question LOL


    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.


    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.


    I have heard ばか外人 in tokyo drift movie. It is definitely a swearing i think.


    "外國人ですか?" - Can this be accepted?


    Dude, that's Chinese (笑)

    But seriously, the character 國 is largely obsolete in Japanese. It only really turns up in surnames and place names, and even then, rather rarely. The one place I can think of where you can see it regularly is the popular Japanese bookstore, 紀伊國屋 (きのくにや).

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