How do you translate the "nan" in "kore wa nan desu ka" from rōmaji to kanji?

Is "これわなんですか" correct?

  • 10
    None of the characters you wrote are kanji...
    – Earthliŋ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:27

3 Answers 3


First of all, the writing system you are refering to is hiragana. Not kanji. And no, it would not be これわなんですか。

The correct way to write it would be this:


The only real difference here is that the は character, pronounced "ha" normally, is being used as a subject particle in this sentence. So is therefore pronounced "wa" and written as "wa" in Romaji.

Another example is the word こんにちは (konnichiwa) which uses the "ha" character as a "wa", but in this case is not a subject marker.

Seperated into seperate words, your sentence is this:

Hiragana: これ は なん です か



So your sentence literally means: What is this?

If you are looking for kanji and not hiragana, then the correct symbol would be this:


*: wa being used as the subject particle.

**: です(desu) does not always mean "is"

***: ka is a question marker, making the sentence a question.

  • very interesting and detailed. would where are we _
    – Rostol
    Nov 5, 2016 at 0:57
  • 1
    Note that it is possible to also convert これ to kanji - 此れ, but this is seldom used.
    – Sweeper
    Jul 25, 2017 at 23:23

何 can be read nan or nani and it means "what".

"kore wa" means "this" and "desuka" indicates a question.

So "kore wa nan desu ka" basically means "What is this?"

  • Aight, so "kore ha nani desu ka" or "これは何ですか"?
    – Shuri
    Nov 3, 2016 at 14:41
  • これは何ですか is usually read kore ha nan desu ka in this case. Nov 3, 2016 at 14:46
  • 8
    Umm, は is the topic particle here, so it is pronounced "wa", even though the hiragana in isolation is pronounced "ha".
    – David S
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:39

In hiragana, これはなんですか。なん is 何 in kanji.
"何" You can read nani, nan. that means what.
"korewa 〜 desuka" means Is this. (If Japanese sentence has desuka, it is Question)

Anyway, "kore wa nandeska" means What's this?

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