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?



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


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)


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)

  • 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 '16 at 9:41

These "negative questions" as you refer to them are an appropriate way to invite someone to do something with you.



can read as

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

Your example


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.


This can read as

Doesn't Yamada-san speak English?

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