In the previous article Properly Use 'What,' 'Why,' and 'How' in Japanese, we learned the differences between the particles (は, が, を, で and ). Now, in today's article, I'll show you how to use “Where," "When," "Who" and “Which.”





In the Japanese language, “where” is written as どこ. This can be expressed in one of two ways. Either:


  • Aはどこですか。
  • A wa doko desu ka




  • Aはどちらですか。
  • A wa dochira desu ka (very formal)


Both of these mean “Where is A?” However, as indicated above, the second expression is very formal. Therefore, you wouldn’t use it unless you were working in Japan and talking to customers.



  • 鳥の耳はどこ?
  • Tori no mimi wa doko
  • Where are birds' ears?


  • お手洗いはどこですか。
  • O-te-arai wa doko desu ka (formal)
  • Where is the bathroom?


You should note that while お手洗い (otearai) literally means "hand-washing," it is used to refer to the "bathroom." In addition, people can useトイレ (toire) to say the “bathroom.” However, this is more informal.


When used with the が particle


Here is a general example using the particle:


  • どこ痛いの?
  • Doko ga itai no (informal)
  • Where does it hurt?


However, this sentence would be expressed differently if said by a Doctor. Instead, they would ask about pain using the verb 痛む (itamu), which is very formal:


  • どこ痛みますか。
  • Doko ga itami-masu ka (formal)
  • Where does it hurt?


Now take a look as these different examples using the particle:


  • この芸人、最近人気だけど、どこ面白いの?
  • Kono geinin, saikin ninki dakedo, doko ga omoshiroi no
  • This comedian is popular recently, but which part of him is funny? (Nothing is funny about him.)


  • わたしのどこ好き?
  • Watashi no doko ga suki?
  • What do you like about me? (literally: My where of me do you like?)


From these two examples above, you can probably see that どこが translates to “where / which part” So, let’s take a look at one more example, this time in the form of a dialogue:




Person A: たかしくん、本当にかっこいいよね...

Person B: え?!あのたかし?!どこが?!


Person A: takashi kun, hontou-ni kakkoii yo ne...

Person B: E?! Ano takashi?! Doko ga?!


Person A: Takashi really is handsome… don't you think?

Person B: What?! That Takashi?!


When used with the を particle


The construction どこを is used to indicate "where" as an object. So, let’s have a look at some examples using this form of "where":




  • どこを見ているの?
  • Doko wo mite-iru no
  • Where are you looking?


If you watch tons of anime, you've probably heard:


  • どこ見てんのよ、変態!
  • Doko (wo is omitted) mite-n no yo, hentai!
  • Where are you looking, you pervert!


  • どこを探しても、見つからない!
  • Doko wo sagashite mo mitsukara-nai
  • I cannot find it anywhere! (literally: Even though I am looking for it everywhere, it cannot be found).


When used with the で particle


Here are some common examples of the construction どこ,  used with a verb:


  • どこその靴を買ったの?
  • Doko de sono kutsu wo katta no
  • Where did you buy those shoes?


  • 奥さんとはどこで会ったんですか。
  • Okusan to wa doko de atta n desu ka
  • Where did you meet your wife?


  • どこで待ち合わせしよう?
  • Doko de machi-awase shiyou
  • Where shall we meet up?


  • どこでそれを聞いたの?
  • Doko de sore wo kiita no
  • Where did you hear that?


When used with the に particle


The construction どこ can be translated as "(to) where" and is used with verbs such as "to go" and "to come."




  • どこ行きますか。
  • Doko ni iki-masu ka
  • (To) where are you going? / Will you go?


  • この荷物はどこに送りますか。
  • Kono nimotsu wa doko ni okuri-masu ka
  • (To) where will you (would you like to) send this package?


  • どこに置けばいいですか。
  • Doko ni okeba ii desu ka
  • Where should I put it?


Note: In Japanese, we use におく to say “to put it (where)."


We can also say AからBまで, which means “from A to B.” For example:


  • どこからどこまで
  • From where to where


You can use these expressions on their own as well.




  • どこから来ましたか。
  • Doko kara kima-shita ka
  • Where did you come from?


  • この電車はどこまで行きますか。
  • Kono densha wa doko made iki-masu ka
  • How far does this train go?


  • どこまで話したっけ?
  • Doko made hanashita kke
  • Where was I / were we?


This last example literally means “Up to where did I talk?” and refers to where one was in a conversation.


When used with に (in / at)


This construction is only used with verbs that express where one is or where one exists.


Examples of such verbs are:


  • ある / いる: to exist / there is ...
  • 住む  sumu: to live
  • 泊まる tomaru: to stay (such as in a hotel or at a friend's house)
  • 滞在する taizai suru: to stay (such during a visit to a country or city)
  • 座る  suwaru: to sit
  • 立つ  tatsu: to stand




  • どこにありましたか。
  • Doko NI ari-mashita ka
  • Where was it? / Where did you find it?


  • この三日間、どこにいたの?
  • Kono mikka-kan doko NI ita no
  • Where were you for the last three days? / Where have you been for the last three days?


  • どこに住んでいますか。
  • Doko NI sunde-imasu ka
  • Where do you live?


  • 映画館の席、どこに座ろっか?
  • Eiga-kan no seki, doko ni suwarokka
  • As for the seat in the movie theatre, where shall we sit?





“When” is expressed as いつ and it is mainly used on its own. In addition, it is important to remember that いつ can only be used as a question. In a sentence such as "when I was a child,” you should use the word とき (toki). Here is how it is used in a sentence:


  • Aはいつですか。
  • A wa itsu desu ka
  • When is A?




  • 誕生日はいつですか。
  • Tanjou-bi wa itsu desu ka
  • When is your birthday?


  • 東京のオリンピックはいつ?
  • Toukyou no orinpikku wa itsu
  • When are the Tokyo Olympics?


Saying “when” without a particle




  • 日本にはいつ来ますか。
  • Nihon ni wa itsu ki-masu ka
  • When will you come to Japan?


  • いつ遊ぶ?
  • Itsu asobu
  • When should/will we hang out?


  • 日本語はいつ勉強し始めたの?
  • Nihon-go wa itsu benkyou shi-hajimeta no
  • When did you start learning Japanese?


When used with から and まで


Basic construction:


  • いつからいつまで
  • itsu kara itsu made
  • From when to when




  • お盆はいつからいつまでですか。
  • Obon wa itsu kara itsu made desu ka
  • From when to when is obon?


Obon is a Japanese traditional custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestor.


When used with が


When you use the construction いつが plus an adjective, it indicates "when" as a subject.




  • いつがいい?
  • Itsu ga ii
  • When is good (for you)?


  • 日本に行くのはいつが一番いいですか。
  • Nihon ni iku no wa itsu ga ichi-ban ii desu ka
  • When is the best (time) to go to Japan?


  • 航空券はいつが安いですか。
  • Koukuu-ken wa itsu ga yasui desu ka
  • When are the flight tickets cheap?


何時 (Nan-ji, What time)


If you want to ask about a specific time, you should use 何時 (Nan-ji), which meanswhat time.” Precisely speaking, means "time" or "when," but as a suffix, it basically is the same as "o'clock." Examples of these on their own are:


  • 一時  ichi-ji: 1 o'clock
  • 二時 ni-ji: 2 o'clock
  • 三時 san-ji: 3 o'clock
  • 四時 yo-ji: 4 o'clock


Examples of these used in a sentence are as follows:


  • (今)何時ですか。
  • (ima) nan-ji desu ka
  • What time is it (now)? / Do you have the time?


  • Aは何時ですか。
  • A wa nan-ji desu ka
  • What time is A?


  • チェックインとチェックアウトは何時ですか。
  • Chekkuin to chekkuauto wa nan-ji desu ka
  • What time is check-in and check-out?


  • Aは何時 ~
  • A wa nan-ji NI ~
  • What time does A ~?


Please note that when a verb is used along with the phrase "what time…," you need to add the particle.




  • 何時に起きますか。
  • Nan-ji ni oki-masu ka
  • What time do you wake up?


  • 何時に待ち合わせする?
  • Nan-ji ni machi-awase suru
  • What time shall we meet up?


  • 今日は何時に帰ってくる?
  • Kyou wa nan-ji ni kaette-kuru
  • What time are you coming home today?


  • 試合は何時に始まる?
  • Shiai wa nan-ji ni haji-maru
  • What time does the match start?


Just like いつ, you can use this construction with から and まで.




  • 何時からチェックインできますか。
  • Nan-ji kara chekku-in deki-masu ka
  • From what time can we check-in?


  • 何時までにチェックアウトをしなければなりませんか。
  • Nan-ji made-ni chekku-auto wo shina-kereba-nari-masen ka
  • Until what time do I need to check-out?


For expressing a length of time, you should use どのくら, which means “how long.”




  • どのくらい日本に滞在しますか。
  • Donokurai nihon ni taizai shi-masu ka
  • How long will you stay in Japan?





Now let’s look at “who,” which is expressed by (dare) in Japanese:


  • Aは誰ですか。
  • A wa dare desu ka
  • Who is A?




  • あの人は誰ですか。
  • Ano hito wa dare desu ka
  • Who is that person? (he / she)


  • 日本の総理大臣は誰ですか。
  • Nihon no souri-daijin wa dare desu ka
  • Who is the Japanese prime minister?


When used with が


  • 誰が 
  • Dare ga
  • Who is the one that is …


Notice that here we are putting emphasis on “who.”




  • 誰が責任者ですか。
  • Dare ga sekinin-sha desu ka
  • Who is in charge? (literally: Who is the one that is responsible for this?)


The example above is used when looking at a group of people.


  • 誰が好き?
  • Dare ga suki
  • Who do you like?


This could also be understood to mean "who likes you?" However, when it's not clear from the context, you should clarify it by using one of these two phrases:


  • みさは誰が好き?
  • Misa wa dare ga suki
  • Who do you like, Misa?


  • みさのことが好きなのは誰?
  • Misa no koto ga suki-na no wa dare
  • Who is the person that likes you, Misa?


If someone calls you a bad name (“stupid” or “short” for example), a lot of people may jokingly say:


  • 誰がAだと?!
  • Dare ga A da to




  • 誰がAか!
  • Dare ga A ka




  • 誰がチキンだと?!
  • Dare ga chikin da to
  • Who are you calling a chicken!? (literally: Who is a chicken?!)


In fact, there is a famous quote by Ed from the anime "Fullmetal Alchemist"


  • 誰が豆粒ドチビかぁ~!!
  • Dare ga mame-tsubu do-chibi kaa
  • Who are you calling a pea-sized runt!! (literally: Who is a pea-sized runt!)


誰が + verb




  • 誰が窓を割ったんですか!
  • Dare ga mado wo watta n desu ka
  • Who broke the window!


  • 誰が何て言ったの?
  • Dare ga nan te itta no
  • Who said what?


When used with を


The basic construction for this is:


  • 誰を
  • Dare WO
  • Whom ("who" as an object)




  • プロムに誰を誘ったの?
  • Puromu ni dare wo sasotta no
  • Who did you ask out to the prom?


Note: The prom is not a thing in Japan. However, people who know American culture well are aware of what it is.


  • 誰を殴ったの?!
  • Dare wo nagutta no
  • Who did you hit?!


When used with に


  • 誰に
  • Dare ni
  • TO whom


This construction can be translated to mean “to whom,” “from whom” or “by whom.” It is used with a passive verb or a word such as くれる




  • バレンタインは誰にチョコをあげるの?
  • Barentain wa dare ni choko wo ageru no
  • Who will you give chocolates to for Valentine's day?


Note: In Japan, girls give chocolates or sweets to boys who they like. They usually make these sweets themselves.


  • 誰に頼めばいいかな...
  • Dare ni tanomeba ii kana
  • Who should I ask (a favour)...


  • 誰に聞いたんですか。
  • Dare ni kiita n desu ka
  • Who did you hear it from? / Who told you that?


Note: someone + に 聞く means “to hear from someone.”


Here is another example of this construction, this time with a passive verb:


  • 誰にされたの?!
  • Dare ni sareta no
  • Who did this to you? (literally: By whom was this done?)


When used with と


The basic construction is:


  • 誰と
  • Dare TO
  • With whom




  • 誰と電話で話していたの?
  • Dare to denwa de hanashite-ita no
  • Who were you speaking with on the phone?


  • Aちゃんは誰と付き合っているの?
  • A chan wa dare to tsukiatte-iru no
  • Who is A chan going out with?


When used with の


The basic construction is:


  • 誰の
  • Dare NO
  • Whose










  • この傘は誰のですか。
  • Kono kasa wa dare no desu ka




  • これは誰の傘ですか。
  • Kore wa dare no kasa desu ka


Both of these translate to “whose umbrella is this?” However, the first one is more common.


  • 誰のノートを借りたの?
  • Dare no nooto wo karita no
  • Whose notebook did you borrow? / Who did you borrow the notebook from?





“Which” is translated as both どれ / どの (dore / dono) and どっち / どっちの (docchi / docchi no).


When choosing from more than two choices:


  • どれ means “which one.”
  • どの + noun means “which (noun).”




  • Aはどれですか。/ どれがAですか。
  • Which one is A? (out of more than two things)


  • どのAがBですか。
  • Which A is B?


Examples in a sentence:


  • みさ先生のペンはどれですか。
  • Misa sensei no pen wa dore desu ka
  • Which one is Misa sensei's pen? (formal)


  • どれが一番面白い?
  • Dore ga ichi-ban omoshiroi?
  • Which one is the most interesting? (informal)


  • どの人が日本の総理大臣ですか。
  • Dono hito ga nihon no souri-daijin desu ka
  • Which person is the Japanese prime minister? (Looking at more than two people)


When used with the を particle


  • どの本を借りるの?
  • Dono hon wo kariru no
  • Which book will you borrow?


When choosing out of just two choices:


  • どちら (formal) and どっち (informal) mean “which one.”
  • どちら + noun (formal) and どっち + noun mean “which (noun).”




  • Aはどちらですか。(formal) / Aはどっち? (informal)
  • Which one is A?


Note: These last ones can also refer to a direction. Therefore, it can also mean "where is A?"


  • どちらがAですか。(formal) / どっちがA? (informal)
  • Which one is A?


  • どちらのAがBですか。(formal) / どっちのAがB? (informal)
  • Which A is B?


Examples of these used in a sentence:


  • 正解はどっち?
  • Seikai wa docchi
  • Which one is the correct answer? (out of two choices)


  • お手洗いはどちらですか。
  • O-te-arai wa dochira desu ka
  • Where is the bathroom? (formal)


  • どっちがお勧め?
  • Docchi ga osusume
  • Which one would you recommend?


  • どっちのペンが私のだっけ?
  • Docchi no pen ga watashi no da kke
  • Which pen was mine? (I forgot.)


When comparing two things, use のほうが.


  • AとBと どちら / どっち のほうが...
  • Which one is more... A or B?




  • 日本と韓国とどちらの方が小さいですか。
  • Nihon to kankoku to dochira no hou ga chiisai desu ka
  • Which one is smaller, Japan or Korea? (formal)


  • バスと電車とどっちの方が安い?
  • basu to densha to docchi no hou ga yasui
  • Which one is cheaper, buses or trains? (informal)


When adding か


When you add to the constructions below, you get the following:


  • なに + : something
  • どこ + : somewhere
  • だれ + : someone
  • いつ + : someday/sometime (future)
  • どうして + / なんで + : for some reason




  • なにか飲みませんか。
  • Nani-ka nomi-masen ka
  • Would you like to drink something (with me)?


  • どこかで鍵を落としました。
  • Doko-ka de kagi wo otoshi-mashita
  • I dropped my key somewhere.


In informal speech, we often use どっか (dokka) instead of どこか (doko-ka).




  • 週末どっか(に*)出かけよう!
  • Shuumatsu dokka (ni) dekake-you
  • Let's go out somewhere on the weekend!


The particle is often omitted from informal speech when it means "to (direction)."


  • 誰かが壊したんだ。
  • Dare-ka ga kowashita n da
  • Somebody broke it.


  • いつかハリウッドの映画に出たい。
  • Itsu-ka hariuddo no eiga ni de-tai
  • I want to be in a Hollywood movie some day.


  • どうしてか涙が出た。
  • Doushite-ka namida ga deta
  • For some reason tears came out.


I hope this article has been helpful to you! Leave an example sentence in the discussion!


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