So I have this sentence:


The translation for this is "What are you going to Tokyo for?"

But as I understand it へ means "to", and 何しに行く means "What are you going to do?" So it should mean, "What are you going to do to Tokyo?"

But why does it mean "What are you going to Tokyo for?"?

Also how do you say "What are you going to do to Tokyo?" in Japanese?

  • 2
    So can you at least read hiragana? Explaining a language using a different script is not pleasant to most people. (Imagine you are told to explain English grammar solely using katakana.)
    – naruto
    Aug 2 at 3:06
  • @naruto i can read hiragana Aug 2 at 4:47
  • @RommelBagasina great. Next step, can you type hiragana?
    – jarmanso7
    Aug 4 at 0:54
  • 1
    Yup I can, will be using hiragana from now own @jarmanso7 Aug 5 at 3:47

2 Answers 2


masu-stem🟠 + に + motion verb🟣 is a construction to mark a purpose. Whenever you see this set, you need to notice it's about a purpose of going/coming/visiting/traveling/etc.

  • えいがを み🟠 いく🟣
    to go in order to watch a movie
  • ゲームを し🟠 くる🟣
    to come in order to play a game
  • にほんへ すしを たべ🟠 むかう🟣
    to head to Japan in order to eat sushi

なにし🟠いく🟣 has this pattern, too because し is a masu-stem of する and いく is a motion verb. A very literal translation of なにしにいく is "to go in order to do WHAT". You can get this by replacing a concrete object with なに ("what"). If you add とうきょうへ, you just get "to go to Tokyo in order to do WHAT".

  • なにし🟠に いくの🟣?: Do you go in order to do WHAT? → What are you going for?
  • とうきょうへ なにしに いくの?: Do you go to Tokyo in order to do WHAT? → What are you going to Tokyo for?
  • とうきょうへ さくらを み🟠に いく🟣。: I go to Tokyo in order to watch cherry blossoms.

how do you say "What are you going to do to Tokyo?"

If this is a question where a response like "I'll drop bombs" is expected, it would be "とうきょうに(は) なに(を) するの?"

  • Rommel Bagasina maybe was playing with words or does not understand English very well, but your translation of "What are you going to do to Tokyo?" is incorrect. "to do SOMETHING_1 to SOMETHING_2/SOMEBODY" is a phrase which means to make some action SOMETHING_1 (often negative / malicious / nefarious) and SOMETHING_2/SOMEBODY is recipient of that action. english.stackexchange.com/questions/272738
    – Arfrever
    Aug 2 at 9:10
  • @Arfrever You mean it's always a question where something like "I'll send a spy (to Tokyo)" is expected as a response? It's never taken as "Whare are you going to do on the way to Tokyo"?
    – naruto
    Aug 2 at 10:48
  • "to do something for something/somebody" has positive connotation, like 「〜のために」, while "to do something to something/somebody" often has negative connation. With more explicit negativity in Japanese, sentence "What are you going to do to Tokyo?" could be translated as 「東京にどの損害を与えるの?」, 「東京にどの被害を与えるの?」 or 「東京にどうやって損なうの?」. (When a place is target of action, a terrorist attack seems more likely :) .)
    – Arfrever
    Aug 2 at 11:01
  • @Arfrever I edited the last part of my question. Is it okay now?
    – naruto
    Aug 2 at 11:04
  • 1
    I think that it is good now.
    – Arfrever
    Aug 2 at 11:09

Let's brake up your sentence word for word and translate it into English.

"nani shi ni iku"


"what do there going" (word-for-word)


"What are you going there to do" (Rearranged into English)


"What are you going there for?" (Translated to slightly more colloquial English)

*し is the stem of する、so think of it as "to do"

  • How is "ni" a word-for-word translation of "there"? This isn't right.
    – jogloran
    Aug 8 at 19:54

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