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All About Japanese Particles: か (ka)

I. Indicates a question; found at the end of a sentence.

1. Indicates a simple question.

これはだれの傘です
Kore wa dare no kasa desu ka.
Whose umbrella is this?

明日のパーティーに行きます
Ashita no pātī ni ikimasu ka.
Are you going to the party tomorrow?

2. Indicates an inquiry about someone’s feelings or intentions or a suggestion about something: “how about.”

映画を見に行きません
Eiga o mi ni ikimasen ka.
How about going to see a movie?

佐藤さんに聞いてみたらどうです
Satō-san ni kiite mitara dō desu ka.
How about asking Satō?

3. Indicates a rhetorical question.

こんなにきれいな所が、ほかにあるだろう
Konna ni kirei na tokoro ga, hoka ni aru darō ka.
Is there another place as lovely this? / Where else could you find a place as lovely as this?

そんな悪い人がいるものです
Sonna warui hito ga iru mono desu ka.
Are there people around as bad [awful] as that?

4. Indicates anger or censure: “So you …?”

また今日も、遅れて来たんです
Mata kyō mo, okurete kita-n desu ka.
So you’re late again today?

まだこの仕事をしていないんです
Mada kono shigoto o shite inai-n desu ka.
You haven’t done [finished] this work yet?

*5. Indicates that someone is talking to him- or herself.

今日は月曜日
Kyō wa getsuyōbi ka.
Today’s Monday, is it?

そろそろ夏も終わり
Sorosoro natsu mo owari ka.
So summer’s almost over, huh? / Well, it looks like summer’s almost over.

II. Indicates a choice, doubt, uncertainty; found within a sentence.

1. Indicates a choice: “or, whether or not.”

コーヒー紅茶飲みたいですね。
Kōhī ka kōcha ka nomitai desu ne.
I’d sure like to drink some coffee or tea. / Some coffee or tea would be nice, wouldn’t it.

旅行に行く行かない、まだ決めていません。
Ryokō ni iku ka ikanai ka, mada kimete imasen.
I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to take a trip or not.

広田さんはお酒が飲めるどう聞いてみましょう。
Hirota-san wa osake ga nomeru ka dō ka kiite mimashō.
Let’s ask Hirota whether he drinks [alcoholic beverages] or not.

2. Indicates uncertainty about a state or reason: “I wonder.”

かぜをひいたの、頭が痛いんです。
Kaze o hiita no ka, atama ga itai-n desu.
I wonder if I’ve caught a cold—my head hurts. / I’ve got a headache. Maybe I’ve caught a cold.

試験があるの、みんな図書館で勉強していますよ。    
Shiken ga aru no ka, minna tosho-kan de benkyo shite imasu yo.
I wonder if there’s a test—everyone’s studying at the library.

3. Used with an interrogative word, indicating such meanings as “something, anything; someone, anyone.”

だれか山田さんの電話番号を知っています
Dare ka Yamada-san no denwa-bangō o shitte imasu ka.
Does anyone know Yamada’s telephone number

冷たいものが飲みたい。
Nani ka tsumetai mono ga nomitai.
I want to drink something cold. / I’d like something cold to drink.

4. Following other particles, indicates uncertainty or doubt. See also to ka (#9).

山田さんという人から電話がありました。
Yamada-san to ka iu hito kara denwa ga arimashita.
There was a call from someone called Yamada or something or other.

彼女は、デパートでブティックで、どちらかで買物をしたいと言っていました。
Kanojo wa, depāto de ka butikku de ka, dochira ka de kaimono o shitai to itte imashita.
She said she wanted to do some shopping, at a department store or a boutique I think it was.

5. In the idiomatic expression ka … -nai uchi ni: “hardly had, no sooner had.”

駅に着く着かないうちに電車が来た。
Eki ni tsuku ka tsukanai uchi ni densha ga kita.
I had hardly arrived at the station when the train came.

おふろに入る入らないうちに電話がなった。
Ofuro ni hairu ka hairanai uchi ni denwa ga natta.
No sooner had I gotten into the bath than the phone rang.

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words

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