When you are meeting different teachers to find the one that’s best for you, do teachers ask questions in your first session? Are they almost always the same questions? A few of my students suggested I let beginning Japanese students know how to describe or introduce themselves. I agree, because every time you meet a person you’ve never met before, most people ask questions and introduce themselves in the same way.


I will show you some common questions and how to answer them.



What’s your name?

Q: お名前はなんですか?

(Onamae wa nan desu ka?)

A: ________です

Q: What is your name?


A: I’m ________ .

Adding「お」before the noun makes it polite.

Where are you from?

Q: 出身はどちら/ どこですか?

(Shusshin wa dochira/doko desuka?)

A: _______です。

Q: Where are you from?


A: I’m from _______ .

出身 is the place/country where you were born. どちら is where and it is more polite than どっち. If the question was 「なにじんですか?」, you could answer _______じんです。

Ex: 中国人(chuu goku jin), アメリカ人 (amerika jin), イギリス人(igirisu jin).
Adding じん after the name of a country means the nationality.


How old are you?

Q: 何歳ですか?

(Nansai desuka?)

A: _______さいです。

Q: How old are you?


A: I’m ________ years old


20   はたち 26   にじゅう ろくさい
21 にじゅう いっさい   27 にじゅう ななさい
22 にじゅう にさい 28 にじゅう はっさい
23 にじゅう さんさい     29 にじゅう きゅうさい
24 にじゅう よんさい 30 さんじゅっさい
25 にじゅう ごさい    

Not にじゅっさい but rather はたち、and not にじゅう いちさい but にじゅう いっさい.Find your age in the table above to see the proper way to respond to "How old are you?"


What is your hobby?

Q: 趣味はなんですか?

(Shumi wa nan desuka?)

A: ______を ______ことです。

Q: What is your hobby?


A: To _________ .

If you only use a noun you can simply say _______です。But, if your hobby is listening to music, and if you answer just 「音楽です(ongaku desu)」, people may wonder “to play” or “to listen”? Use noun + verb + こと. Adding こと after a verb makes it a noun.

(For more information about how to use こと, see my italki Article: 5 Usages of こと )

Ex: 音楽聴くことです。(Ongaku wo kiku koto desu.)
To listen to music.
読むことです。(Hon wo yomu koto desu.)
To read books.
日本語勉強することです。(Nihongo wo benkyou suru koto desu.)
To study Japanese.


Common Questions

How long have you been studying Japanese?

Q: どのくらい、日本語を勉強していますか?

(Dono kurai nihongo wo benkyou shite imasu ka?)

A: ______かんです。

Q: How long have you been studying Japanese?


A: ________ .


どのくらい/どれくらい means “how long”. かん means “period” or “term”.

See the period table below:

いっかげつ かん One month はちかげつ かん Eight months
にかげつ かん Two months きゅうかげつ かん   Nine months
さんかげつ かん Three months じゅっかげつ かん Ten months
よんかげつ かん Four months いちねん かん One year
ごかげつ かん Five months いちねんはん One year and a half
はんとし Six months / half a year   よねん かん Four years
ななかげつ かん Seven months    


When you use “half”, be careful, we do not use かん. 「いつから日本語の勉強を始めましたか?(itsu kara nihongo no benkyou wo hajime mashita ka?)」is the same question and it means “When did you start studying Japanese?"

You can answer ______まえからです。まえ means “before” or “ago”, から means “from” or “since”.

Ex: いっかげつ まえからです。
  One month ago.

You can also say せんげつからです, which means “since last month”. To refer to a specific month, say something like 今年(kotoshi)のさんがつからです, which means “since this March”. Do not add まえ in those two cases.

Why did you start learning Japanese?


(Naze nihongo no benkyou wo hajime mashita ka?)


Q: Why did you start learning Japanese?


A: Because __________ , that’s why.

Ex: なぜなら、アニメが好きだからです。(Nazenara anime ga suki dakara desu.)

Because, I like anime, that’s why.


Image by andrechinn (CC BY 2.0)