In [どうしたの?] the の is seeking explanation right?

What's the diffence between [どうしたの?] and [どうしたのか?] ?

both are casual speaking but is the first one more feminine?

I know the formal one would be [どうしたのですか?]

Thank you :)

  • [どうしたんですか] is more natural. Oct 1, 2016 at 2:32
  • I hear a lot in animes [どうしていたの?] , but I have lately noticed it more on the female characters so I am not sure if adding か, in the end will turn it more male oriented in casual speech. I've heard that in affirmation like [行きたいの!] gives the idea of immaturity and mainly of girly talk if you do not put だ or です at the end. Oct 1, 2016 at 2:37
  • Yes, どうしたの is feminine word. Oct 1, 2016 at 3:17
  • @TakahiroWaki Are you from western Japan, if not a foreigner?
    – user4092
    Oct 2, 2016 at 3:15
  • 2
    I'm sorry. I believed it was rare for people around there to sense that it's particularly a feminine expression. I've just learned something new.
    – user4092
    Oct 2, 2016 at 14:20

3 Answers 3


どうしたの? is often considered feminine, but many guys use it, too (though it might depend on the region).

You don't really say どうしたのか? to mean "What's wrong?" in conversation.*
You'd rather say どうしたんだ? or just どうした? to sound masculine.

You'd use ~のか? in yes-no questions, as in:

  • どうしたんだ?お[腹]{なか}が[痛]{いた}いのか
    What's wrong? Do you have a stomachache?
  • [何]{なに}してるんだ?[勉強]{べんきょう}してるのか
    What are you doing? Are you studying?
  • どこに[行]{い}ってたんだ?[学校]{がっこう}には行ったのか
    Where have you been? Did you go to school?

The examples above would sound pretty masculine. To sound feminine, you could say like 「どうしたの?お腹が痛いの?」「何してるの?勉強してるの?」「どこに行ってたの?学校には行ったの?」

And yes, its polite/formal version is どうしたのですか?
In speech, it's usually pronounced どうしたですか?

*You might see 「何/どう/どこ etc + のか?/のだろうか?のであろうか?etc」 in formal but not polite writing. You'd also see 「何/どう/どこ etc + か」 in subordinate clauses, eg 「何をしているのか、わからない。」

  • ohh thank you, clears it up everything! i didn't know you could use だ in a question, but since it is casual speech it doesn't matter right? using だ for a question is acceptable only on conversations or in a more casual writing too? Oct 10, 2016 at 0:18
  • Actually, in formal but not polite writing (e.g. essay, novel, academic paper), you'd see 「何/どう/どこ etc + の ?/のだろう ?/のであろう ?etc」 rather than 「何/どう/どこ etc + だ?」. I'm not sure if this applies to all cases but I have a feeling that 「何/どう/どこ etc + の?/ のだ?」 is pretty conversational (You'd use it in casual emails/letters too, of course).
    – chocolate
    Oct 10, 2016 at 3:35

According to the "Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" page 322:
"の is sentence-final particle used by a female speaker or a child to indicate an explanation or emotive emphasis."

So the の used at the end of the sentence is used for emphasis.

  • And does the book say it also applies to interrogative sentences?
    – chocolate
    Oct 8, 2016 at 17:26
  • 1
    yes i have this doubt too, because i'm aware that affirmative sentences ending with の instead of のだ or のです are feminine/childish, but does it applies to interrogative ones? I hear things like [どうしたの?] mainly from girls in anime (but of course i know anime speech is not always what japanese people use daily) Oct 8, 2016 at 23:23
  • Yes, it applies to interrrogative sentences. It even has the sentence どうしたの? as an example.
    – hisao m
    Oct 9, 2016 at 3:35
  • Sorry, I meant to ask whether the statement "the の used at the end of the sentence is used for emphasis" applies to interrogative sentences. And I doubt it does. I think the の at the end of interrogative sentences indicates explanation, not emphasis.
    – chocolate
    Oct 9, 2016 at 5:31

The explanatory [の] particle is usually use in casual speech to make actual question.

In casual speech, The question marker [か] is often used to consider whether something is true or not.

By using [のか], you would be requesting a yes-no-answer along with an explanatory answer afterward.

[か] :

"Is there any problem ?

[の] :

"What is the problem ?"

[のか] :

"Is there any problem ? If yes, then what it is ?"

  • oh, that's helpful! Any insight on the feminine/childish tone that ending an interrogative sentence with の only could bring? Thank you! Oct 8, 2016 at 23:24
  • [の] does sound very soft and feminine, but I'm not sure whether [の] is more feminine than [のか].
    – Narutokage
    Oct 9, 2016 at 1:07
  • Ending with のですか? would make it more masculine in your opinion? But as a result it would become polite speech right? Oct 9, 2016 at 1:43
  • 1
    This is a very good answer to your question about the difference between [か] and [のか]: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/18613/…
    – Narutokage
    Oct 9, 2016 at 3:05

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