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I'm a bit confused about the usage of か. I was taught that it means "or" or "whether", so why is this sentence (どの車にするか迷っています) translated as "I was undecided which car to choose."? What is the purpose of か in this sentence and why doesn’t it translate to "whether"? I mean you can’t say "I was undecided about whether which car to choose",right?

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    Do you mean 迷っていました?
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 10:46
  • Yes! I accidentally typed the wrong Kanji
    – Dee
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 20:02

1 Answer 1

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You can see this か as a means to turn a verb phrase into a noun phrase. For example, the verb phrase 彼が来る can’t be used as it is as an object of a verb. You need to turn it into a noun phrase and that’s where か comes in.

彼が来る(が/は)わかりません。

The particle you would expect to go with the verb, in this case either が or は, can be and often is omitted.

This function of か is indeed very similar to one of the functions of “whether” in English.

I don’t know whether he will come.

You can optionally add かどうか corresponding to “or not” in English.

彼が来るかどうかわかりません。
I don’t know whether he will come or not.

In English, interrogatives like “what,” “where,” “who,” “when,” etc. play similar roles to this “whether.”

I don’t know when he will come.

In Japanese, you still need か at the end as a nominalizer.

彼がいつ来るわかりません。

In this case, you can’t add かどうか just like you can’t say “when he will come or not.”

Your sentence follows this pattern with the interrogative being どの.

どの車にする迷っていました。
I was undecided which car I should choose.

(I assumed 待っていました was a typo for 迷っていました.)

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  • Yes it was indeed a typo. Thank you so much for explaining!
    – Dee
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 21:42

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