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My textbook is prompting me to ask questions:

"Don't you want to see a movie?"
eiga o mimasen ka?

"Don't you want to eat dinner?"
bangohan o tabemasen ka?

I'm wondering if I should be asking these types of negative questions instead something like this:

"Do you want to see a movie?"
eiga o mimas ka?

etc...

2 Answers 2

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Questions can be asked in either positive or negative. They only vary by politeness (with the latter being more so).

映画{えいが}を見{み}ませんか。
映画を見ますか。

These are two nearly identical ways of asking the same thing (Do you want to see a movie?). The only difference is that the former is slightly more polite.

Also, unlike English, responses are reversed when the question is in the negative. What I mean by that is:

映画{えいが}を見{み}ますか。 (Do you want to see a movie?)
はい (=Yes, I do want to see a movie)
いいえ (=No, I don't want to see a movie)

However:

映画{えいが}を見{み}ませんか。(Don't you want to see a movie?)
はい (=No, I don't want to see a movie)
いいえ (=Yes, I do want to see a movie)

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  • Do Japanese people sometimes get confused about these yes/no? In Russian and English I often hear stuff like are you saying "no" to my "no" or just "no"?.
    – kuchitsu
    Oct 30, 2016 at 9:41
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These "negative questions" as you refer to them are an appropriate way to invite someone to do something with you.

So

映画{えいが}を見{み}ませんか。

can read as

  1. Won't you see a movie (with me)?
  2. Would you like to see a movie (with me)?

Your example

映画を見ますか。

can read as

  1. Are you going to see a/the movie?
  2. Will you watch the movie?

For illustrative purposes, "negative questions" can also be interpreted as a genuine question.

山田{やまだ}さんは英語{えいご}を話{はな}しませんか。

This can read as

Doesn't Yamada-san speak English?

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