I want to determine the difference between kana and desuka. I was able to translate them as "How are you." Thank you.

2 Answers 2


First, かな is a sentence-end particle that means "I wonder ...", "..., right?" or "I hope ...". In other words, ~かな questions are usually directed to yourself, although there can be a listener.

Asking someone else using かな is common when an adult asks a small kid.

  • ○○ちゃんはいくつかな?
    How old are you, ○○-chan?
  • ひとり? パパかママはどこにいるのかな?
    Are you alone? Where is your mom or dad?

In Japanese, an adult tend to choose words from the viewpoint of the kid. Have you heard people use ママ/パパ instead of "I", 僕 instead of "you", and such? It's discussed here, here and here. So these ~かな questions are said as if the adult were at the kid's viewpoint.

Likewise, saying "元気かな?" directly to someone is acceptable basically only when you talk to a kid. Additionally, if you are far higher and older than the listener — say, if you are 60 and the listener is 20, you might use 元気かな without offending them.

But it's totally fine to say 元気かな referring to someone who is not present:

  • 彼とはもう2年会ってない。元気かな。
    I haven't seen him for two years. I wonder if he's doing fine.
  • I know fiction often differs from real life, but I've heard かな with some pretty polite language in fiction (like そういうことでいかがかな?). Granted, it was always from kings or princes, so maybe it's 役割語 for male royalty?
    – Angelos
    Mar 30, 2017 at 21:37

"Genki desuka" is a polite way of "Genki kana".

"-desuka" is keigo (敬語).

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