How to use 〜か/〜かどうか ( = ~ ka/ ~ ka douka)

「今日は、なにやるの?」

= Kyou wa nani yaru no?

= What are you going to do today?

「今からスパに行こう考え中…」

= Ima kara supa ni ikou ka kangaechuu…

= I am thinking about whether I should go to spa or not… 

Hi everyone!

I’m your guest teacher, Marron.

It’s lovely out here.  Should I go to the spa or teach you Japanese?

Hmmm….I guess I will teach you Japanese first.

Today we are going to learn how to make indirect questions with ( = ka) and かどうか ( = ka douka)

 :ee: ( = ka)

1) with interrogative words  (+ particle)  + ( = ka) / のか ( = noka)   or なのか ( = nanoka)

Note: When you emphasize the meaning, uncertainty or doubts, you add の ( = no) 

verb or i-adjecitve + のか ( = noka) /  noun or na-adjecitve + ( = na) + のか ( = noka) 

*   = なに ( = nani)   = what  ~ 

*  何〜 = なん〜  ( = nan) = what  ~ /  how many/much ~ 

* どこ  ( = doko)  = where / where 

* どちら ( = dochira)  = where (polite) / which ~ 

*    =  だれ ( = dare) = who 

*  誰の = だれの =  whose   ~ 

* いつ  ( = itsu) = when  ~ 

* どんな ( = donna) = what kind of  ~ / how   ~ 

* どうやってどう ( = douyatte / dou) = how ~ 

You use ( = ka) for indirect questions.

I’ll show you the pattern first.

* What time is it now?

今、何時です

= Ima, nanji desu ka?

 :rrrr: Change it to an indirect question

* Do you know what time it is now?

今、何時わかりますか?

= Ima, nanji ka wakarimasu ka?

(more casual)

今、何時わかる?

= Ima, nanji ka wakaru?

*How much will it cost to get to Shinjuku?

新宿までいくらです

= Shinjuku made ikura desu ka?

(casual)

新宿までいくら?

= Shinjuku made ikura?

 :rrrr: Change it to an indirect question

*Will you tell me how much it will cost to Shinjuku?

新宿までいくら教えてくれますか?

= Shinjuku made ikura ka oshiete kuremasu ka?

(casual)

新宿までいくら教えて。

= Shinjuku made ikura ka oshiete.

So far so good?

Now let’s look at the next sentence.

* Where do you live?

どこに住んでいます

= Doko ni sunde imasu ka?

 :rrrr: an indirect question

* Can you tell me where you live?

You might want to say, 

X どこに住んでいます教えてください。(wrong) 

= Doko ni sunde imasu ka oshiete kudasai.

But that would be wrong. Even if you are talking politely, you never use masu-form before ( = ka) 

You have to change it to plain form once.

住んでいる

= sundeiru

どこに住んでいる教えてください。

= Doko ni sunde iru ka oshiete kudasai.

(casual)

どこに住んでいる教えて。

= Dokoni sunde iru ka oshiete.

 

* Marron: Does Maggie like Max?

= マロン:「マギーはマックスのことが好きなの?」

= Marron: “Maggie wa Max no koto ga suki nano?

 :rrrr: indirect question

* Marron asked if Maggie liked Max.

マロンはマギーがマックスのことが好きなの聞いた。

= Marron wa Maggie ga Max no koto ga suki nano ka kiita.

 :i: The verbs that you often use with ( = ka) are:

* 知っています( = shitte imasuka)? / * わかります ( = wakarimasu ka) Do you know ?

* 知らない  ( = shiranai) / * 知りません ( = shirimasen)  don’t know 

* わかる?( = wakaru?) / * わかります( = wakarimasu ka?)  Do you know? 

* わからない ( = wakaranai) / * わかりません ( = wakarimasen) = don’t know 

* 覚えている?  ( = oboete iru?)  / * 覚えています? ( = oboete imasuka? ) = Do you remember ?

* 覚えていない ( = oboete inai) / * 覚えていません ( = oboete imasen) =  don’t remember 

* 教えて ( = oshiete ) / * 教えてください ( = oshiete kudasai) = Tell me

Others: * 調べる ( = shiraberu) to check / * 心配する( = shinpai suru) to worry/ * 見る( = iru) to see, etc.

***

(Pointing a person in a picture)

Ex. これ誰わからない。

= Kore dare ka wakaranai. 

= I don’t know who it is. 

When you emphasize uncertainty add なの ( = nano)

Ex.これ誰なのかわからない。

= Kore dare nano ka wakaranai.

= I don’t know who this is. 

Ex. これ誰の傘わかる?

= Kore dare no kasa ka wakaru? 

= Do you know whose umbrella this is?

Ex. このプレゼント誰からわかる?

= Kono purezento dare kara ka wakaru?

= Do you know who this present is from?

Ex. 彼がどんな人覚えていない。

= Kare ga donna hito ka oboete inai.

= I don’t remember how he looked / what kind of person he was. 

Ex.その本、どこで売っている知ってる?

= Sono hon, doko de utte iru ka shitteru?

= Do you know where they are selling the book? 

Ex. マギーの誕生日はいつ知ってる?

= Maggie no tanjoubi wa itsu ka shitteru?

= Do you know when Maggie’s birthday is? 

Ex. これ、何知ってる?

= Kore, nani ka shitteru?

= Do you know what this is?

Ex. これ、何のためにある知ってる?

= Kore, nan no tame ni aru ka shitteru?

= Do you know what this is for?

Ex. ううん、何のためにあるのかわからない。

= Uun, nan no tame ni aru no ka wakaranai.

= No, I don’t (know). I have no idea what it’s for. 

(= no = emphasizing uncertainty)

Ex. ここで何が起きた知っていますか?

= Koko de nani ga okita ka shitte imasu ka?

= Do you know what happened here?

Ex. 今日が何曜日なのわからなくなった。

= Kyou ga nan-youbi nano ka wakaranaku natta.

= I don’t know what day of the week it is.

Ex. 一番近い地下鉄の駅はどこ教えてくれますか?

= Ichiban chikai chikatetsu wa doko ka oshiete kuremasu ka?

= Could you tell me where the closest subway station is?

Ex. 今度の飲み会、誰が幹事わかる?

= Kondo no nomikai, dare ga kanji ka wakaru?

= Do you know who is organizing the next drinking party?

Ex. わんわん病院はどこにあるわかりますか?

= Wanwan byouin wa doko ni aru ka wakarimasu ka?

= Do you know where Wanwan hospital is?

Ex. 夏休みにどこに行くまだ決めていません。

= Natsuyasumi ni doko ni iku ka mada kimete imasen.

= I haven’t decided where to go in summer vacation. 

Ex. この写真の真ん中の人誰覚えている?

= Kono shashin no mannaka no hito dare ka oboete iru?

= Do you remember who is the person in the middle of this picture?

Ex. この曲、誰が歌っている教えて。

= Kono kyoku, dare ga utatte iru ka oshiete.

= Can you tell me who is singing this song?

Ex. 自分がどこの病院で生まれた知らなかった。

= Jibun ga dokono byouin de umareta ka shiranakatta.

= I didn’t know what hospital I was born in.

Ex.彼が会社でどんな仕事をしているのかわからない。

= Kare ga kaisha de donna shigoto wo shiteiru no ka wakanarai.

= I don’t know what kind of job he does at work.

Ex. 自分がどうやってここに来たのか覚えていない。

= Jibun ga douyatte koko ni kita no ka oboete inai.

= I don’t know how I got here.

2) noun (+ particle)  + ( = ka) / なのか ( = nano ka) 

 :ii: negative

* noun (+ particle)  + ではない ( = dewanai)/  じゃない ( =  janai) +   ( = ka) / のか ( = noka)  

 :ee: past tense

* past tense  noun (+ particle)  + だった ( = datta)   ( = ka) / のか ( = no ka) 

 :qq: past negative

*noun +  (+ particleではなかった ( = dewa nakatta) / じゃなかった ( =  janakatta) +   ( = ka) / のか ( = noka)  

Ex. 最初、マギー先生は人間なのと思った。

= Saisho, Maggie sensei wa ningen nano ka to omotta.

= I thought Maggie Sensei was a human being at first.

Ex. 彼が言ったことは事実そのうちわかるでしょう。

= Kare ga itta koto wa jijitsu ka sono uchi wakaru deshou.

= We’ll eventually find out if what he said is true. 

Ex. 今日の試験0点じゃない心配です。

= Kyou no shiken reiten ja nai ka shinpai desu.

= I worry if I will get a zero in today’s lesson.

Ex. A: 「ねえ、行きたかった店、ここじゃない?」

= Nee, ikitakatta mise, koko ja nai?

= Hey, isn’t this the restaurant you always wanted to go to?

「う〜ん、この店だったよく覚えていないよ。」

= Uun, kono mise datta ka yoku oboete inaiyo.

= Hmmm, I don’t remember whether the restaurant (I was talking about) is this place or not. 

When you wonder something, you can attach with ( = na) / なあ ( = naa)

(Click this lesson to learn more. ) 

Ex. 今、電話してきたの田中さんかなあ

= Ima, denwa shite kita no Tanaka-san ka naa.

= I wonder if the person who just called me was Tanaka-san.

Ex. 明日、雨かな

= Ashita, ame kana.

=  I wonder if it’ll rain tomorrow. 

(The translation is “to rain”, a verb, but 雨 ( = ame) is a noun, a rain

* noun A  + ( = ka) or  + noun B +  ( = ka): Whether A or B

Ex. それは訓読み音読み辞書で調べてください。

= Sore wa kun-yomi ka on-yomi ka jisho de shirabete kudasai.

= Please check if it’s the kun reading or the on-reading. 

Ex. 早希さんおめでたみたいだよ。まだ男の子女の子わからないけど。

= Saki-san omedeta mitai dayo. Mada otokonoko ka onnano ko ka wakaranai kedo.

= I heard Saki is expecting. I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet, though.

Ex. 彼が言ったことが嘘本当確かめたい。

= Kare ga itta koto ga uso ka hontou ka tashikametai.

= I’d like to verify if what he said is true or not. 

* adjective + ( = ka)

Ex. 京子さんは元気なあ?

= Kyouko san wa genki kanaa.

= I wonder if Kyoko-san is doing OK.

Ex. どっちの映画が面白い教えて。

= Docchi no eiga ga omoshiroi ka oshiete .

= Tell me which movie is interesting.

Ex. 友達に明日忙しい聞かれた。

= Tomodachi ni ashita isogashii ka kikareta.

= My friend asked me if I was busy tomorrow.

Ex. 息子のアパートが汚くない心配だ。

= Musuko no apaato ga kitanaku nai ka shinpai da.

= I worry if my son’s apartment is messy. 

* verb (any tense)  / auxiliary verb +  (= no)  ( = ka) 

Ex. 自分がなにをやりたいのわからない。

= Jibun ga nani wo yaritai no ka wakaranai.

= I don’t know what I want to do. 

Ex. どこに住んでいる教えてくれる?

= Doko ni sunde iru ka oshiete kureru?

= Can you tell me where you live?

Ex. 明日、東京に行くまだ決めていない。

= Ashita, Toukyou ni iku ka mada kimete inai.

= I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to Tokyo tomorrow. 

Ex. 今日は晴れると思った。

= Kyou wa hareru ka to omotta.

= I thought it would be sunny today.

Ex. 今までどれだけ自分ががんばって勉強してきたのか誰も知らない。

= Imamade doredake jibun ga ganbatte benkyou shitekita no ka dare mo shiranai.

= Nobody knows how hard I have been studying. 

 

* verb (affirmative form) + (= no) ( = ka) + verb (negative form/contrast verb) + (= no)  か  ( = ka)

When you emphasize the contrast whether one does something or not.

Ex. 仕事を辞める辞めない迷っている。

= Shigoto wo yameru ka yamenai ka mayotte iru.

= I can’t decide whether or not to quit my job.

Ex. マギーがまだ寝ている起きている見てくる。

= Maggie ga mada nete iru ka okite iru ka mite kuru.

= I’ll go check and see if Maggie is sleeping or already up.

* adjective (affirmative form) + (= no/なの= nano) ( = ka) + adjective(negative form/contrast adjective) + (= no/なの= nano)     ( = ka)

Ex. 私のこと、好きなのか好きじゃないのかはっきりして!

= Watashi no koto suki nano ka suki ja nai no ka hakkiri shite.

= Make up mind if you like me or not.

Ex. 会議室が十分、広い狭い調べてください。

= Kaigishitsu ga juubun, hiroi ka semai ka shirabete kudasai.

= Please check whether the meeting room is spacious enough or too small.

***

 :w: かどうか ( = ka douka) /(な)のかどうか ( = ( na) no ka dou ka)

=  “if  ~ or not / whether ~ or not”

Ex. A: 明日までに行く行かない教えて。

= Ashita made ni iku ka ikanai ka oshiete.

= Let me know by tomorrow whether you are going or not going.

→ B: 明日までに行くどう教えて。

= Ashita made ni iku ka dou ka oshiete.

= Let me know by tomorrow whether you are going or not.

1) noun  +(なの= nano) +  かどうか ( = ka dou  ka) 

(past tense: noun + だった(の)かどうか ( = datta (no) ka douka) 

Ex. 身分証明書が必要かどうか教えてください。

= Mibunshoumeisho ga hitsuyou ka douka oshiete kudasai.

= Can you tell me if I need my i.d. or not? 

Ex. 試合は明日なのかどうかコーチに聞いてきます。

= Shiai wa ashita nano ka douka koochi ni kiite kimasu.

= I will go ask my coach to find out if the game is tomorrow or not.

Ex. マギー先生はきれいなので、元モデルだったのかどうか気になります。

= Maggie sensei wa kirei nano de, moto moderu datta noka dou ka ki ni narimasu.

= Maggie sensei is beautiful so I am curious as to whether she used to be a model or not. 

2)  adjective (present/past) + (i-adjective + ( = no) /na-adjective なの ( = nano) ) +  かどうか ( = ka dou  ka) 

Ex. このアプリは便利かどうか使ってみないとわからない。

= Kono apuri wa benri ka dou ka tsukatte minai to wakaranai.

= I can’t know if this app is useful or not until I use it. 

Ex. 彼女のことが本当に好きなのかどうかわからなくなってきた。

= Kanojo no koto ga hontou ni suki nano ka dou ka wakaranaku natte kita.

= I don’t know if I really like her or not anymore. 

Ex. お味噌汁、作ったんだけどおいしいかどうか味見して。

= Omisoshiru, tsukuttan dakedo oishii ka dou ka ajimi shite.

= I made miso soup. Do you want to taste it to see if it’s good?

Ex.こっちの店の方が高いかどうか調べてみるね。

= Kocchi no mise no hou ga takai ka dou ka shirabete miru ne.

= I will check if this store is more expensive or not. 

Ex. 明日、暑いかどうか天気予報を見てみよう。

= Ashita , atsui ka dou ka tenki youhou wo mite miyou.

= Let’s check the weather forecast if it is going to be hot tomorrow or not.

3) verb  (any tense) + (= no) + かどうか ( = ka dou  ka) 

Ex. 息子が試験に受かったかどうかわからない。

= Musuko ga shiken ni ukatta ka douka wakaranai.

= I don’t know if my son passed the exam or not. 

Ex. 道が渋滞しているかどうか行ってみないとわからない。

= Michi ga juutai shite iru ka dou ka itte mitani to wakaranai.

= We don’t know if there is traffic or not until we go. 

Ex. 明日の飲み会に行くかどうかまだ決めていない。

= Ashita no nomikai ni iku ka dou ka mada kimte inai.

= I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll go to the drinking party tomorrow.

Ex. マギーが寝ているかどうか見てきて。

= Maggie ga nete iru ka dou ka mite kite.

= Can you go check to see whether Maggie is sleeping or not?

Ex. 彼女が僕とデートをしたいのかどうか知りたい。

= Kanojo ga boku to deeto wo shitai no ka dou ka shiritai.

= I want to know whether she wants go out with me or not. 

Ex. うまくいくかどうかやってみないとわからない。

= Umaku iku ka douka yatte minai to wakaranai.

= You never know if it is going to work out OK or not until you try. 

***

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

マロン先生、ありがとう!

= Maron Sensei arigatou!

= Thank you, Marron Sensei!

レッスンが終わったからゆっくりスパを楽しんできてください。

= Ressun ga owatta kara yukkuri supa wo tanoshinde kite kudasai.

= Now that the lesson is over, you can go to spa and enjoy yourself.

 

 

 

***

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My supporters can access  audio files for many lessons on my Patreon page and lots of mini lessons and quiz.

Audio Files for this lesson

:rrrr:   Part 1  Click here.

:rrrr:   Part 2 Click here.

:rrrr:   Part 3 Click here.

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. First of all, I love your lessons! They’ve helped me a lot.

    I know this lesson isn’t about it, but I wanted to ask a question about と phrases 「-ないとわからない」is this a kind of set phrase? Instead of translating it like “if you don’t do X you won’t know” you said “until you do X you won’t know”

    Is this a common/appropriate way to translate “until you do X you won’t know”? Or just for certain situations?

  2. happy new year dear Maggie Sensei and Yukari Sensei :)

    thank you so much for the past years. I still read your lessons and looking forward to the future ones.

    how have you been? as for me, i’ve been trying to make lyric videos for the past months. for some reason, i feel a sense of fulfillment whenever i complete a video. just in case you are curious, the name of my channel is Project 9:10 (with three dots as my profile photo). i still can’t translate on my own so i copy the translations of others/music video, but when i feel like i’m not convinced with the translation, i try to translate it, or maybe guesslate? on my own.

    i also feel happy when people make comments, though there are times i’m having a hard time understanding those… haha…

    i hope you’ll have a wonderful year ahead :)

    thank you so much as always…

    1. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
      明けましておめでとうございます! 
      I’m sure your Japanese has improved a lot doing what you enjoy!!
      I hope you have a great new year 2020!!!

  3. Dear Maggie sensei, maybe it could be noted that it should be possible to add は/が afterwards?
    If that’s true, but I believe I did hear 「まだできるかどうかは分からないよ」in an anime, also found used of both through Google. I think it’s not obvious you can actually attach these particles to a sentence
    It is used for emphasis?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi NoxArt!
      まだできるかどうかは分からないよ
      It is used for emphasis?
      →Yes, you can use か・かどうか before は・が and in this case for emphasis.

      There are cases that you use with other particles.

      It depends on whether we can finish it by tomorrow or not.
      明日までにできるかどうかによる。
      I also want you to ask Maggie whether she is at home now or not
      マギーが今、家にいるかも聞いてほしい。, etc.

  4. Hello マギー先生!
    Thank you for this lesson.
    I have a question,
    Why do we have to put this (なの)か with 思う? I thought whatever is before the か has to be asking some sort of indirect question, “whether ~ or not”, or contrast?

    最初、マギー先生は人間なのかと思った。
    I thought Maggie Sensei was a human being at first.

    今日は晴れるかと思った。
    I thought it would be sunny today.

    1. Hi Milk,

      You add の (or なの) when you emphasize the meaning or feelings.
      You can say
      マギー先生は人間かと思った。
      or
      今日は晴れるのかと思った。

      Compared to “かと思った” which could be just expressing the fact that one thought so, “(な)のかと思った” emphasizes the meaning and expressed surprised feelings more.

      When you have some time, check my “How to use ん” lesson. I explained the function of の there.

      1. Sorry マギー先生、
        I didn’t quite word my question right,
        I was wondering what does かと思った mean exactly?
        Why do these two sentences need this か with 思う, and do they make sense without it or are these two sentences more natural sounding with this か? The sentence before 思った doesn’t sound like its questioning so i don’t know why we need か there.

        Thank you though i will also check out that lesson, i haven’t gotten ん/の down yet.

        1. If you simply thought I was a human, you say
          マギー先生は人間だと思った。/(more casual) マギー先生は人間と思った。
          I thought Maggie Sensei was a human.
          In this case the speaker is not questioning the fact.

          If you questioned whether I was a human or not or simply embed the question, you use か

          Let’s quote what comes before.
          「マギー先生は人間なのだろうか?」と思った。
          「マギー先生は人間なのかな?」と思った。
          →I thought if Maggie Sensei was a human or not?
          →I was wondering if Maggie Sensei was a human.

          You can say this with か (or なのか)
          マギー先生は人間かと思った。

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