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"When do you work?"


August 3, 2017



Why is it "していますか" rather than just "ますか"


I had the same question. It looks like it's in te-form; suru->shite to talk about something in-progress. te-form is also used to request permission or to tell someone to do something, but the in-progress case is what's being used here.

"When do you work?" is kind of a bad literal translation. it's more like "When are you working?"


It's definitely a good question, and the difference is quite subtle.

Before I answer OP's question, I just wanted to point out that て-form is used in a lot of grammatical structures in Japanese. On its own it, it's generally interpreted as a soft command/request for the listener to do something, as you mentioned. However, it's only associated with permission if you use something like して + いい (granting permission) or して + いいですか (asking permission). Likewise, the structure of して + います (or して + いる) is associated with progressive tense.

Getting back to OP's question, you're quite right that the progressive tense indicates the "in-progress" case, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that "When do you work" is a bad translation (it's certainly not a literal one). The progressive tense in Japanese covers a few English tenses because it can indicate that an action is either currently in progress (present progressive), ongoing (present continuous), or has resulted in the current state (present perfect). All in all, the use of しています emphasizes the continuing nature of the action.

So, by using しています in this question, the speaker is perhaps indicating that the work has already started and/or it doesn't have an end point (or at least, not one worth mentioning/emphasizing). If you use します, the work could be repeating and ongoing in that sense, but there are implied starts and stops within the period the speaker is concerned with.


I'm sorry but I still don't quite understand why we are using しています in this sentence. Is there any resource material you can point me to? Thank you.


I need an example, like:

します = I will do something

しています = I am doing something (now)

Is that right?


I think a more informative English translation might be 'What's your work schedule?' That would also emphasize the ongoing nature of the work in question.


Or, you know, "when do you work?" In this case, it actually translates to the present simple better than it does to the present continuous.


My problem then is that if the work is implied to be on-going (already started/ doesn't have an endpoint), then how can it make sense to use 'when' 「いつ」? Isn't it happening right now? I can't get around seeing this as saying something like "When are you talking with me?" 「いつ私と話していますか」, which doesn't seem to make sense.


Maybe this can't be applied to the current question, but, isn't しています used more for saying "I knew" in practice?


Why does the Duolingo robovoice consistently pronounce しごと as しもと?


I hear shigoto, perhaps it's a problem with your device/headphones/speaker/app.

It's also possible that you're mishearing. I don't think the audio doesn't do it in this case, but Japanese people tend to pronounce their "g"s rather nasally, so it sounds like "ng" like is "sing". This varies across different regions in Japan, and with different individuals, but that could be why it sounds like an "m" to you.


Perhaps we do have different recordings... Mine also sounds like a lips-pressed-together 'm' instead of a nasally 'g'. I do get occassional nasally 'g's, but not in this word.


Perhaps. I don't hear a nasally "g" in this recording, both on the desktop version and my Android app (speakers and headphones), but it doesn't sound remotely like an "m" to me either.

It might be due to different native languages causing our perceptions of the same sound to change. Native Japanese speakers had a very hard time distinguishing between "l" and "r" sounds, despite native English speakers hearing them as very clearly different sounds. Perhaps "m" in your native language just happens to sound similar to the "g" in this recording.

Having had a fair bit of experience listening to native Japanese speakers, I do think the pronunciation in the recording (if it is indeed the same) is accurate though, if somewhat robotic.


I've noticed occasionally that the same word will have different Duolingo voices, so my guess is you're actually hearing two different versions of the word.


The male voice for me gives the correct "shigoto" while the female voice sounds closer to "shimoto".


Thats it. In fact some words with a "g" consonent can be pronounced more nasally ("ng"), which makes it sound more polite. That can also be noticed when listening to a japanese person saying "ringo".


Ahh yes. The 'laurel' and 'yanny' issue.


In the standard Tokyo dialect it is nasalized, but in the Kansai dialect, it is pronounced more like the English /g/.


I'm hearing ga as nga a lot of the time too, and it always throws me just a little


Could you say いつ はたらきます?


you have to add "ka" at the end since it is a question.


But doesn't Itsu have a question in it? Itsu = when. So why double question?


When isn't always a question - e.g. I'll go to work when I've finished studying.


Fair point, but while "when" might behave like that in English, いつ is usually a question word (strangely, when you add か directly after it, it becomes the adverb "sometime").

To answer @seratanto's question, the role of か is to make the sentence grammatically a question. But, a question can be "yes/no" or open-ended, right? いつ is used to define the scope of the question to be open-ended.

You could think of か changing the sentence from "I do work" to "Do you work?", then いつ makes it "Do you work? when?" or "When do you work?"


I think it is also important to note the difference between speaking casually and formally.

If you were asking this question of a close friend casually you would switch from ます form to plain/dictionary form and omit か instead rising your intonation on the last character.

いつははたらきますか? would become いつははたらく?


Why anata wa if not needed?


If you're making a question, it is already implief from the context that you are speaking to somebody else (you). If it is not a question and no context have been stablished, it is implied yiu are talking about yourself. Eg. Ringo wa tabemasu "(I) eat apples


The anata is not required for this sentence to be marked as correct by Duolingo actually.


Im confused with the ending of that sentence しています?


JoshuaLore gave a detailed explanation if you scroll up a bit :)


Detailed, but not good explanation.


Where did I fall short, and what would have made it a "good" explanation?


So the ''しでいます’’ form implies some form of ongoing action or past-context?

And the text from this discussion ''あなたはいつ仕事をしていますか'' traslated as "When do you work?", implies that we are talking (and have knowledge) about the currently and ongoing job of the person who is being asked?

And if we change ''しでいます’’ with ''します’’、the translation would be the ''same'', but now we would be talking about when the asked person do work, without matter what is his/her job, or even without know if he/she have a job?

Sorry for the long text, and thank you for bother and taking all that time to explain me (and everybody). I think it should be obvious for everybody by now, but english is not my first languaje, and all those long explanations are double hard for me.


Yeah, in a sense, an ongoing action has some past context: it started in the past and is still continuing right now. There's a different emphasis. "Now" can be on "physically, exactly, right at this moment", or it can be "a general sense of the present".

I'm glad it helped. And don't worry if you still don't completely understand it. As you said, the translation is the "same", so it's hard to talk about in the abstract. I'm sure it will start making more sense the more you use it and hear the different forms being used.



Your explanation is not easy to understand, you used a lot of technicalities and you ramble away from the question, and you just explained the meaning in this only example, when it would had been better if you could had explained in a general form, so we could use that information in future cases. You could had explained it better with a lot less of text, maybe explaining when to use the ''ています" or the "ます'' form, or had given examples from both, or what is the exact translation of both forms. At least to me, I have not clear what is the difference from both forms, I understood something like ''ています'' is similar to the verb-ing form from the english.


Ok, fair enough. Thanks for the feedback.

In my defense, the bit where I ramble away from the question was added to address @SpencerBry9's mislabeling of the て-form as a request for permission. I know I do tend to ramble sometimes though...

I'm also conscious of compromising accuracy for the sake of understandability. I use a lot of technical language because there is no easy and direct correlation between the Japanese tenses and the English tenses, and also because using technical language is the best way explain how something works in general.

Actually, the takeaway of "''ています'' is similar to the verb-ing form from the english" is exactly what I wanted to avoid because it's too simplistic a relationship and can limit your understanding of how to use ています; I know it took me quite some time to shake the association.

I'll try to get a few examples here then:

  • (currently in progress) 今仕事はしていますか?= "Are you working right now?" - the question is concerned with whether you are working right now as we are speaking
  • (ongoing) 最近仕事はしていますか?= "Have you been working recently?" - the question is concerned with whether you still have some work/job, which you started some time in the past, now
  • (current state) 今日の仕事はもうしていますか?= "Have you already finished today's work?" - the question is concerned with whether some work/job, which you may or may not have completed some time in the past, remains in the same (incomplete/completed) state now
  • (general) 弁護士はどんな仕事をしますか?= "What kind of work do lawyers do?" - the question is concerned with the kind of work, not when it's done or whether it's continuing or not
  • (habitual) 週末も仕事はしますか?= "Do you work on weekends too?" - the question is concerned with your habit/general schedule, not whether it's continuing or not (because it's sort of already implied that it is, but that's not being emphasized here)

I don't know if that helps or just makes things more confusing (which is probably why I didn't include it in my original explanation).


What about 何時働きますか?


That's very subtly different. 何時 (なんじ) means "what time", and is typically answered with a specific time, e.g. "3 o'clock".

On the other hand, いつ means "when" and is a lot broader in scope. You could answer with a specific time, or a time period (e.g. "9 to 5"), even open-ended times such as "from Monday", depending on the context.

The difference between 働きます and 仕事をします is even subtler still. 働きます means "to work", but it also has connotations of "to labor". On the other hand, 仕事をします is literally "to do work" or "to do (one's) job".

Therefore, you may 働きます while you 仕事をします, but you don't necessarily have to; perhaps your job isn't very challenging or laborious. You can equally 働きます while doing something other than 仕事.


what's wrong with <kanji>はいつをしますか? how is that kanji written?


This kanji 仕事? I typed しごと in Windows IME and pressed spacebar to get it.

As for your sentence, it's grammatically incorrect because the を shouldn't be attached to the question word いつ. The を indicates that the verb acts on "when", not the other way around ("when" modifies the verb) as it should be. 仕事はいつしますか? should be an acceptable answer.


Could I use 仕事はいつですか?

Doesn't いつ need a に particle for referring to the time?


Yes, 仕事はいつですか is also correct.

Actually, particles are postpositions, unlike the prepositions we're used to in English. So, the は in these sentences is acting on 仕事.

いつ doesn't need a particle in your sentence, because it is the object of です. In my sentence, いつ can use the particle に to connect to します, but it's very commonly left out because いつ is an "adverbial noun" so it modifies します directly.


I'm no pro but from what I've seen usually verbs are followed by the wa particle so they tend to be in the end of a sentence. Japanese follows the SOV rule (subject-object-verb) structure so that's the best I can explain. Also, 仕事pronounced (しごと) shigoto!


Why doesn't 仕事はいつしますか work?


Wrong particle. I put 「仕事をいつしますか」and was marked correct


仕事 = しごと


What is the use of してafter を


It's actually part of the verb しています. して is the て-form of する, the verb meaning "to do", and when you add て-form + います, it indicates that you are using the verb in its "progressive" tense, e.g. "doing".


what's を for?


Object marker particle. "itsu" = when, "shimas(u)" = do, "shigoto" = work. When (subject) do (verb) your work (direct object) <- needs "wo" to show the action goes from the verb to the direct object.


"いつ仕事しますか" was also accepted.


I heard somewhere that when the subject (I, you, etc.) is clear you don't necessarily have to put it in the sentence (like in the beginning of the Japanese course). Is it, or is it not true here? It's kinda obvious I mean you, and not "I". Like with "いつべんきょうしますか?", you don't put あなた at the beginning. Is it becouse the last sentence needs を?


It is true here, that the あなたは isn't strictly necessary if it's obvious by the context. You could also be asking "when do I (start) work", so there may be situations when you want to make sure the listener knows you are talking about them.

With いつべんきょうしますか, you don't have to put あなたは at the beginning, but you can. You can also interpret it as "when do we study", so again, if you want to be absolutely sure the listener knows you're talking about them, you would add あなたは.

It doesn't have anything to do with を ;)




Isn't it super duper impolite to say あなた?


not if you're talking to your spouse.

but yes, in general it can be impolite.

more than likely it is unnecessary. if it is necessary to clarify to whom you're speaking it is more polite to use their name instead.

Japanese relies heavily upon context, but with these isolated exercises there is none.


How do I say this without あなた?


( あなたは ) いつ仕事をしていますか。


We never saw the して version of the verb until now and it was never mentioned in the tips, so why should this be here and not let us write instead 仕事をします like in all other instances of this lesson? I think this exercise should be removed.


Can somebody go through は, を and が


Sure. I'll start with the easiest one first. Remember that particles in Japanese are post-positions, so they point at the thing that came before them.

: the "direct object" particle. It indicates what the verb of the sentence is acting on. This can be an actual physical object, like "a table", or an abstract non-physical idea, like "a dream".

: the "subject" particle. It indicates what is doing the verb of the sentence.

It also has a couple of other grammatical functions, mainly to indicate the target of a preference/skill/desire, and as a formal emphasis particle meaning "but/though".

: the "topic" particle. This one is probably the most difficult to conceptualize in English. It is used to provide some grammatical context to the sentence, and you can think of it as indicating what the sentence is about.

In many cases, it can also supersede the other particles, elevating importance of the "direct object" or the "subject" in the sentence to the role of "topic", for added emphasis in questions or negative statements.

Here's a few examples, adding the particles in one by one, so you can get an idea of what they add to the sentence.

  • ごはん食べます = "I eat rice" (the "I" is the implied subject in this case, since we don't have any other context)
  • 田中さんごはん食べます = "Mr/Ms Tanaka eats rice"
  • 朝ごはん田中さんごはん食べます = "Mr/Ms Tanaka eats rice for breakfast"

  • おちゃ飲みません = "I don't drink tea" (は is taking over を's role here as the "direct object" particle, and emphasizing おちゃ as the topic at the same time)

  • ジョンさんおちゃ飲みません = "(Mr) John doesn't drink tea" (おちゃ is relegated back to being the direct object, since ジョンさん is more important in this case. ジョンさん is the subject, but is also being emphasized as the topic)
  • おちゃジョンさん飲みません = "(Mr) John doesn't drink tea" (the English translation is identical, but this sentence is very subtly different in Japanese due to the difference in emphasis. A possible situation this would be used in is if you were trying to decide what drink to serve everyone, and someone suggests tea, but "when it comes to tea, (Mr) John doesn't drink (it)". "Tea" is the topic of the conversation, thus は is used)


I thought します means will do. What's the actual difference between します and あります


It's difficult to explain concisely, since both します and ありますare rather flexible verbs in Japanese, but bear with me. Firstly, both words, and in fact all verbs that end in ます, are generally called simple present/non-past tense verbs, because they can all refer to general statements, habitual actions or future actions. So in the rest of this explanation, I'll only say things like "to do" or "to be", but keep in mind that this is equally "will do" or "will be".

します: most commonly translated as "to do", but it is the generic way to "verb-ify" a noun in Japanese.

For example, 勉強【べんきょう 】is the noun meaning "studies", and by slapping します on the end, we get the verb 勉強します meaning "to study" or literally "to do (one's) studies". In this case "do" makes sense in English, but this is not always true in all the cases します is used in. For example, パーティー is the noun meaning "party", and パーティーします is the verb meaning "to have a party". Here, "to do a party" doesn't really work in English, so we translate します as "to have" instead.

There are many, many other verbs which are created this way (adding します after a noun), and even though します means "to do", it's largely up to the translator to decide whether "do {noun}" makes sense in English or not. There are also a number of different irregular usages of します where it can mean things like "to decide on", "to be sensed (of a smell, flavor, noise, etc)", "to wear (a facial expression)", etc.

あります: generally means "to be" or "to exist" for inanimate objects, which commonly makes it the equivalent of "there is ~".

However, because of the grammatical logic behind the particles は and が, あります is also frequently used to show possession, i.e. "to have". The way this works is that は indicates the topic of the conversation, or "the thing we are talking about", and が indicates the subject, or "the thing that is doing the verb". For example, 私【わたし】は仕事【しごと】があります means "when it comes to me (=私は), work (=仕事) is a thing that (=が) exists (=あります)", or in more normal English: "I have work".


I put しごとをいつしますか and was accepted. Are both ways used in actual Japanese or is one more preferable to the other?


Both are used in actual Japanese; there's no way to define which is more preferable because it all depends on what you want to emphasize in a given situation. Delivery is probably more important than word order in that sense.


仕事はいつ来ますか? can i say this?


Couldn't it be: 仕事はいつですか


is "いつは働きますか?" also correct?

[deactivated user]

    いつ仕事をしますか was also accepted.


    Yes because its a question so it's implied it's been asked to other person


    I wrote してますか and that's correct too. What the difference between してますか and していますか?


    They mean exactly the same thing. してます is just a common spoken variant, similar to すみません vs すいません. It's technically not grammatically correct, but Japanese native speakers have accepted it for long enough that it's just treated as an exception.

    Note: Any verb's て-form + ます is acceptably correct Japanese, not just して + ます


    Isn't this TE + IMASU form used for present continuous? Sounds more like "When are you working?"


    Can someone help me understand why it marks ”いつは仕事をしますか。” as incorrect?


    You can't mark a question word (いつ when) with the topic particle は
    a topic is information known by both the speaker and the listener already and a question word is an unknown.
    "On the topic of when; do you work?" wouldn't make sense


    Okay, that clears it up. Much appreciated.


    Would いつは働きますか。work as well?


    は marks a topic of conversation, which is known information
    You can't mark an unknown like いつ "when" as the topic
    いつ働きますか would be fine


    I always make mistake while arranging these words.Can someone please simplify


    あなた は いつ仕事をしていますか?


    So: You as a subject, when, do work, question particle

    Because we go by SOV (Subject, object, verb) word order in Japanese, in difference from SVO (Subject, verb, object) word order that is used in english.

    So you usually start with the Subject, marking with subject particle は after, then you add the object that the verb will be done onto, marking it with を to mark to what the action was done, (in this case, work was what was being done, rather) and then you add the verb itself and end it with か because it's a question.

    Now in this sentence, there's another addition, いつ, meaning when. When formulating a simple when sentence that uses verbs you stat with いつ at the beginning and then add the verb afterwards. But in the sentence we're looking at here it comes right after the subject and subject marker, right before what was being done.

    I guess you could sort of see it like this: "For you, when does work(ing) happen?"


    仕事をいつしていますか? was accepted.


    why tf does it not accept おまえはいつ働きますか?


    おまえ is not a very polite way to say "you" and it clashes with the relatively polite ます ending of the verb, so it's a very unnatural sentence. The course developers probably also want to discourage the use of crass language like おまえ.

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