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  5. "How are you?"

"How are you?"


March 22, 2018



Those kanjis has no sound!!


Apparently 元気 is げんき. This might be wrong, as I am still a beginner.


You are correct. 元気 is the Kanji for げんき (genki, fine).


Then why am i wrong when i use the hitagana that means the same thing as the kanji


They want you to write it in kanji. Japnese people pretty much use kanji when possible in their sentences, so they want the learners to get familiar with it.


i was also wrong in using げんき.


After using google translate, it sounds like 'genki' (げんき) which becomes 元気


Even though google translate isn't always the best translator, that's correct


Honestly, I've talked through it a few times and it's surprisingly more accurate than you may believe. Still, you do have to take it one word at a time


The longer and more complex the sentence, the worse it can get. Especially for those sentences that rely a lot on conversational and/or situational context.


Tricky tricky throwing in the kanji for げんき in the word boxes after going through all the other lessons in this skill with it always written in hiragana :P

Especially when the word boxes don't let you hear how the kanji are pronounced so it's a process of elimination.


Why the 'o' at the beggining?


Because it is polite. You can say 元気ですか?to someone you are closer to, but at that point you probably aren't going to be using the です form anyway (元気?元気かい?元気だった?, etc.).


What does the datta (だった) in your last example mean?


It is the casual/plain past-tense form of です
です - polite present/future "is/am"
でした - polite past "was"
だ - plain present/future "is/am"
だった - plain past "was"


This is super usefull to know. Im gon a screenshot this. Also ありがとうございます


to address someone not yourself, also お is used to show respect to someone/something.


It adds a formality to it.


There are many nouns that can have お(o) added to the beginning of the word to transform it into a more formal word. Another example would be お茶(ocha) where you could simply just say 茶(cha) in a casual setting.


Why the word after 'o' and before 'desuka' have no sound ?


It makes the sound ge-n-ki, which means fine.


Could this also be translated to, "Are you doing fine?" If so, would you (Assuming you are doing good) respond with "good" or "yes"? Of course, you would say them in Japanese, but I don't know Japanese for "good"


お元気ですか means 'Are you in good spirits?'

'Are you well?' works fine as an alternative reading. The standard answer to the question in Japanese is 元気です, which does mean (I) am well.

You can reply with just a happy はい or うん, or you can add those affirmatives to げんきです.

If you want to sound even more chipper, you can say うん!元気だよ!


Is 「お元気ですか。」 more like "Are you ok? Do you need any help?" or like a greeting "How are you doing?"


'Are you ok?' would be different (大丈夫ですか?).

'Do you need any help?' would require a far different and more formal greeting than this.
何かお探しですか(Are you looking for something in particular?) is the standard greeting in this scenario.

'How are you doing?' would be perfectly in line with the nuance of this question.


Im not sure about "ogenki desuka" literally means "how are you" . Just "are you ok?" So how can i say something that literally mean "how are you" (Sorry if my english its not perfect)


I got this one "right" but its not the same as the "correct answer it shows... i answered 「げんきですか」it was accepted but then it says the correct answer is 「お_ _ ですか」insert 2 kanji i dont know so can type there...


The kanji 元 and 気, when combined, form the word げんき.


Why can we just put "げんきですか"


You can but kanji makes it more recognizable and saves space


Why '' o genki nani desu ka '' is wrong?


Genki 元気 means "Well/healthy/lively" and Nani 何 is like "what"

Your answer reads as "Healthy - what is it?" which doesn't make much sense.

A more literal translation of お元気ですか is "Are (you) healthy?"


what does です and か mean?

  • 1046

desu - I am/You are

ka makes the sentence to a question.

O genki desu - You are fine. O genki desu ka - Are you fine?


Why is not needed or used a kanji or group of characters that indicates who the question is asked to?


Japanese is a highly contextual language. Pronouns are often used only when it is absolutely necessary to clarify who is being referenced (which is why Japanese learning western languages struggle with them).

Additionally, Japanese usually refer to people by proper reference, instead of just saying 'he' or 'she' or even 'you'. For example, asking Mr. Tanaka if he is well it would be much more likely to say 'How is Mr. Tanaka?' instead of 'How are you?'.

Given the lack of anyone else being mentioned it is commonly understood among Japanese that the person being referenced is the other party (i.e. 'you'). Saying 'you' would be considered unnecessary and superfluous when not switching the topic of conversation.


Instead of the meaning "how are you" wouldn't it be better answer "are you ok"


I'd say "are you well/healthy" would probably be closer. Ok isn't exactly wrong but " Ok" is more often translated to 大丈夫 / daijoubu. With "are you ok" having a slight nuance of something recent happening and asking if they were unscathed, and "are you well" being their overall state of living/happiness.
You're more likely to ask if someone is ok if they were looking upset and you're showing concern for them; not really as a greeting.


Why is it wrong to use 'o' between "genki" and "des ka"? Why is it only correct at the beginning?


the 'o' is an honorific prefix

treat it as a part of the word, rather than a particle


As @Swisidniak mentioned, it is an 'honorific' (polite) prefix. These are not attached to copulas like desu.


Do kanjis in japan sound the same in chinese? And do the kanji words have the same meaning in both?


Sometimes, sometimes not. Chinese and Japanese have both evolved separately since the time they first shared their writing system and Kanji went through a lot of crazy adaptations to fit the Japanese language. While Chinese has a single reading and meaning per hanzi, Japanese kanji have multiple readings and meanings.

The On-yomi (lit. 'sound reading') of a kanji is based on the original chinese reading (which may or may not be similar still today). In many cases these are used for their sound more than for their actual meanings though. Note that Chinese has far more sounds than Japanese too so this adaptation forces the original Chinese sounds to fit into the Japanese syllabary. So they may carrying the original Chinese reading but the meaning may be completely different. Since these are used purely for their sounds the kanji can be combined to create new native Japanese words that don't exist in Chinese. These are called ateji.

Kun-yomi is the Japanese 'meaning reading'. The sound is from the original Japanese word applied to a kanji with the appropriate meaning. So the meanings may be the same in both but they sound completely different.

Some examples I've seen come up in later lessons of both meaning and reading being different that has given some learners a laugh is 手紙 which means "letter" in Japanese and "toilet paper" in modern Chinese, and 聞 which means "listen" in Japanese and "smell" in Chinese.


Great explanation, thank you very much!


Doesn't this sentence literally mean 'are you alright?' instead of 'how are you?'. Someone clarify please.


Yes, but a bit closer to "Are you healthy?/ Are you lively?", it's an expression used roughly in the same way of "how are you". It'd be answered with 元気です - genki desu - "I'm well".

"are you alright" would be more like 大丈夫ですか daijoubu desu ka - sounds like you had an accident of some sort and someone is checking to see if you're okay

Language learning is more about finding a conversational equivalence than a literal word-for-word translation. Translating word-for-word will sound very awkward and sometimes isn't even possible.


Shouldn't 元気ですか also be accepted, as a ruder form of the same question?


But ですか is not rude, it is 丁寧語 (polite speech). If you remove the polite prefix お from お元気 you end up mixing casual and polite forms, which is unnatural.


Do I have to use a question mark if I'm adding か at the end?


In Japanese in general, question marks are optional when following か.
As Duolingo seems to use them consistently, I would recommend doing the same with regards to this program.


Wouldn't this just technically mean "are you fine?"


元気 is a bit more "well, healthy, lively" than just "fine"
Last I checked "are you well" was an acceptable translation on here for the reverse question though.


On tips says that means 'are you well?' And here 'how are you?'


Literally it is 'Are you healthy?' or 'Are you in good spirits?'. As this is used as a standard greeting the closest American equivalent is 'How are you?'. The loose translation can be a bit misleading.




Is this type of how are you that you ask your close someone daily or is this an how are you that you say to a person who had an accident and got wounded?


I was told Japanese ppl dont really say this and encouraged not to say this as English speakers would. If i want to greet someone, use こんにちわ、こんばんわ、or おはようございます。


「お元気ですか」 is not intended as greeting as far as I understand.


「元気」alone and by itself was accepted as correct in June of 2021


do you add か when its a question?


Yes. か is the Japanese equivalent of a question mark (though you can put either "。" or a question mark after か).


How do I know when to use the kanji and the hiragana for a sentence?


Im not sure about "ogenki desuka


Does gengi mean fine


元気・げんき "genki" means "Healthy, well, lively"


あなたはいかがですか Should be accepted isn't it?


Is the お before 元気 really needed??


If you want to be polite, yes. The お is a honorific used to show respect to the person you're talking to. Not using it can come off as quite rude, especially if you're not very close with the person you're talking to. "元気ですか" is gramatically correct, but you shouldn't get into a habit of saying it that way.
On that topic, you do not use the お when you are referring to your own health. You'd be honoring yourself if you did, which is seen as quite rude in Japan.


Tip: take screenshots of the most important things in courses


Question: does it count if you type "元気ですか" or do you have to add "お"?


The お is a honorific and you use it to be polite if you are referring to someone else's well being. It's not a matter of question whether you have to add it but whether you should.

Unless you're trying to be rude or talking to someone you're close enough with to drop honorifics, you should include it when referring to their health.
If you referring to your own health you should however never add the お. Because then you'd be honoring yourself, which is perceived as egoistic and considered to be quite bad manners.
In cases where you do talk with someone with whom you're close enough to drop honorifics, you most likely won't need the polite "ですか". In other words 元気ですか would make you sound either rude or stiff, depending on who you're talking to.

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