I have just learned about "WH question" in japanese. Now I'm learning about "What is" and since the examples are so simple, only "What's your name". I'm curious how to say "What are the differences between car and motorcycle".

This is what I try so far for "What are the differences between car and motorcycle" :


And this is for "What are the differences" :


Are those correct?

  • How exactly did you create those sentences?
    – ssb
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    The "difference" part is easy to answer, but I'm afraid I'm a bit stumped by 「間にそしてオートバイを」.
    – user1478
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 16:39
  • Pardon me, I only know how to ask with "What is" or "wa nan desuka" so I don't know how to add the "between car and motorcycle" part.
    – mockie
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


To ask about the difference between A and B, you could say:

A と B の違{ちが}いは何{なん}ですか?

Here, we put two nouns together with と, giving us the larger noun phrase AとB. We want to join this to the noun 違い "difference", so we use the genitive particle の.

Literal translation doesn't work very well between English and Japanese; our phrase is literally close to "the difference of A and B". There's no need to say something like "between" in Japanese. The little words like prepositions or particles rarely match up well between languages, and this is especially true between English and Japanese.

間にそしてオートバイを isn't really comprehensible, but it looks like you tried to translate "between" and "and" using a dictionary. That doesn't work, I'm afraid! You can't translate word-by-word into Japanese. You have to learn how sentences are normally formed, and that's different in each language.

For now, don't try to form your own sentences from scratch using a dictionary. Instead, try to pattern everything you say after correct Japanese. You might find a book like Naoko Chino's Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns helpful.

By the way, your sentence doesn't appear to have "car" in it. You can use 車【くるま】 for "car".

  • Yes, I was trying to translate word by word, My knowledge about japanese is still so poor. What does "と" called ? Is it particle too ? Thanks snailboat.
    – mockie
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 17:14
  • Yes, と is a particle. AとB is similar to "A and B" when both A and B are nouns.
    – user1478
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 17:16
  • Okay,I will read about "と" particle for more detail.Thanks once again.
    – mockie
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 17:18
  • 2
    You can also put a second と after B.
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 19:00

I also believe you can say it like so:

AとBは どう違{ちが}うの?

Or "As for A and B, how are they different?

  • "ka" is necessary to create question sentence, isn't it ?
    – mockie
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 5:42
  • 2
    When we use ~の? , か isn't necessary to create question sentence. For example, あなたは先生なの?, ここはどこなの?, 私たちは友達じゃないの? and so on. This is a way of saying among friends. Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 7:19

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