I've been running into this trailing の particle quite often and can't seem to understand what exactly it means. Is it replacing か, or does it mean something else?

For example:



3 Answers 3


"Instead of 「か」, real questions in casual speech are usually asked with the explanatory の particle or nothing at all except for a rise in intonation"


  • I know that's not your own comment, but I would say questions in casual speech are often asked with , but not usually. I guess it might depend on the region, though.
    – istrasci
    Oct 17, 2013 at 14:54
  • The questioning の's polite equivelant is のですか, not simply か.
    – Angelos
    Aug 18, 2015 at 18:40

To add to what 無色受想行識 said, の is regularly used in conjunction with interrogative words, such as in どこに行くの?or 何を食べるの? Often when no interrogative word is used, rising intonation will mark that the sentence is a question, such as in 明日、パーティに行く?

Additionally, の can be used to indicate surprise or disbelief. For example,

A: 明日、パーティに行くよ。
B: 行くの? 

In this instance, B probably thought A wasn't going to the party, and is surprised to learn that he is.

  • 3
    The last part about surprise is correct depending on the context BUT I just want to add that the question の and the surprise の are pronounced differently by us native speakers. The latter is pronounced more like のお compared with a short の in asking questions.
    – user4032
    Oct 20, 2013 at 2:04

To put it as directly as possible, based on my experiences and learning, the best way to describe the article の appearing at the end of questions, after verbs, is to convey a stronger sense of curiosity than simply asking the question without it. If you're familiar with the んですか?[noun]なんですか? construction, it plays a similar role.

You might think of it as:

お手洗いはどこありますか? = Where's the bathroom?
お手洗いはどこあるの?あるんですか?= Where's the bathroom?(I really need to go!)

何をしている?= What are you doing?
何をしているの?= What in the world are you doing?/What are you doing?(Tell me! I wanna know!)

(Disclaimer: This isn't a super natural phrasing for this question. It was bent to fit my example. お手洗いはどこですか? is much more common.)

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