I'd like to understand the nuance differences between the following three ways to ask a question. Let's say I am with a friend and thinking of going of the beach. I can ask the following 4 ways.

  1. 海へ行く? [Standard way to make a suggestion]
  2. 海へ行かない? [Similar to the above but feels more aggressive]
  3. 海へ行こう? [Not sure if this is natural with a question mark. Removing the question mark turns this mostly into a statement which is somewhat forceful, though it would depend on tone of voice]
  4. 海へ行きたい? [This feels a bit too direct and not sure if it would be actually used in Japanese, or maybe only among close friends]

Above each I've written my comments about each of these, but they are just my intuitive guesses.

If someone can tell me if I am on the right track and provide any more details on the differences between these, I'd appreciate it.    

  • 1
    – chocolate
    Mar 24, 2016 at 14:47
  • そういった表現の、それぞれのニュアンスも教えていただければと思います (^^)
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 24, 2016 at 18:53
  • I think there might be a need to specify '?' as a general question marker, or if '?' necessarily includes the rising intonation that typically comes with asking a question.
    – Flaw
    Mar 25, 2016 at 16:38
  • I meant it to include the rising intonation.
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 25, 2016 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


These are just my personal observations, no reference material consulted, but here they are:

  1. 海へ行く?

I don't know how to comment on this one except that it is indeed one way to suggest a trip to the beach. Hmm... but, used in isolation, it may sound a bit blunt or out of the blue-ish compared to (2) because it doesn't have a dedicated form for indicating suggestion/invitation.

  1. 海へ行かない?

This would be what I'd say is the standard way to make a suggestion or invitation, if there's any. (Why don't we ~ ?). I don't think it sounds any more aggressive than the first one.

  1. 海へ行こう?

I find this one the most forward of the four. The speaker wants to go to the beach and is in effect asking the listener to come along, or even take them there.

  1. 海へ行きたい?

This feels to me more like a plain old question than a suggestion. (If it is a suggestion then it's an indirect one.) You are asking someone whether they want to go to the beach or not.

Side note: In casual speech I'd drop へ in all of these sentences. Though when writing I may not (if I were being careful enough), since 海行 in 海行く?could for a split second look as if it were a word.


I take four different expressions you gave in the following ways:

  1. 海へ行く? Do we go to the beach / sea?
  2. 海へ行かない? Shall we go to the beach / sea? / Why not go to the beach / sea?
  3. 海へ行こう? Let’s go to the beach / sea.
  4. 海へ行きたい? Do you want to go to the beach / sea?

No. 2 sounds odds. We don’t say ”海へ行こう” in an interrogative form like this. You don't need a question mark in this sentence.

  • 英語では「sea」じゃなくて、「beach」といわれています。"Should we go to the beach?" とか。
    – istrasci
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:56
  • @istrasci Sometimes my parents say 'the sea' referring to the beach, but I live in the north of England.
    – Angelos
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:58
  • @istrasci. Yes. I was pulled to the word, 海. So I re-edited. Thank you for your pointing out. Mar 24, 2016 at 23:39
  • 1
    Did you mean "No.3 sounds odd"?
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 25, 2016 at 3:02
  • Locksleyu. Yes. It's perfect to say "海へ行こう" to the effect of "Let's go to the beach." but It's odd to add a question mark after "行こう." Do you say "Le's go to the beach?" in English? Mar 25, 2016 at 3:12

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