For instance, you can ask someone:

Did you go to the store today?


You went to the store today?

Would those both be translated as: 今日、乾物屋{かんぶつや}に行ったか?

Or is there another way to express did + Verb?

Note: how do you do furigana + kanji on this board?

  • 1
    I fail to understand the question. Are you asking how to translate the two English sentences differently in Japanese? If so, before considering the translation into Japanese, what is the difference between those two English sentences? Feb 19, 2012 at 18:50
  • 2
    By the way, 乾物屋 means a shop which sells dried foods. They are rare these days because most of them evolved into groceries (食料品店) which also sell other kinds of foods, or even supermarkets (スーパーマーケット or colloquially スーパー). Feb 19, 2012 at 18:52
  • 3
    Are you asking how to make questions in Japanese? If so, asking "how to express did + verb" is a very indirect and English-centric way to ask. The question is not clear.
    – user458
    Feb 19, 2012 at 19:15
  • 5
    Of course it's an English centric way to Ask. The questioner is an English speaker. That's the frame of reference they come from, so until they learn Japanese, that's the only frame of reference they can come from. Isn't the whole point of this site to help guide people from their current frame of reference to a correct one? Not just criticize them for not already understanding things?
    – Questioner
    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:19
  • Firstly: you can use furigana by typing curly braces {} at the end of the Kanji and then putting the furigana inside of those curly braces. Secondly: both ways of asking this question are used in Japanese (culture). Questions can still be direct... especially when conversation is happening between close friends, family members, or spouses.
    – summea
    Feb 25, 2012 at 23:18

3 Answers 3


1 Did you go to the store today?

2 You went to the store today?

3 今日、店{みせ}には行った(か)? (I took the liberty of adding )

(1) is a normal English question; you've been taught that (3) is the way to form normal questions in Japanese; so therefore, the equivalent of (1) in Japanese is (3), right? Then surely, you have the answer to your question already?

Maybe I can get closer to what's troubling you, though.

The questions you're asking in Japanese, such as (3), would normally be structured in English as (1) and not (2) -- yet the Japanese grammatical structure resembles (2) more closely than (1), since the word order doesn't change at all from an ordinary statement. This makes you want to look for a different structure, maybe one that is closer to (1) instead.

However, you can't hope for Japanese and English sentence structures to align in this way. Even though (3) seems to be structurally very similar to (2), it does not mean (2).

The sentence (2) in English sounds like it's seeking "confirmation", or is a surprised statement. To represent its equivalent in Japanese, you need to add の:

4 今日、店{みせ}に行ったの(か)?

This indicates that the speaker is seeking an explanation of some aspect of the context/environment (for instance, maybe he saw some shopping bags lying around in an unexpected place).

This question illustrates the dangers of attempting to directly compare Japanese and English sentence structures. When you realize that (3) looks similar to (2) and you start thinking about how to translate (2), you should consider that as its own problem, starting by asking yourself "what are the nuances of this sentence in English?", rather than assuming that (2) corresponds to (3) because it looks similar.


@Tsuyoshi & @sawa - I understand how you'd be confused as to how these are different in English. But the latter example is a question that is surprising to the one who asks it. It has the nuance of "Oh really?" attached to it.

So for @dotnetN00b, here's how they are different in Japanese

Did you go to the store today?

今日、スーパーに行った(か)? is just the basic question structure as you had it.

You went to the store toay?

This question makes it sound as if during the conversation the asker found out that the askee (?) went to the store today. So the asker is asking like a surprised, rhetorical question. "(Oh!) You went to the store today?" This would require the ~んです form. So it would be 今日、スーパーに行ったの(か)? or 今日、スーパーに行ったんですか?

  • 2
    I am not confused as to how the two English sentences in the question are different, although I doubt that surprise is the only meaning of the latter example. Feb 20, 2012 at 0:10
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    @tsuyoshi, you asked, and I quote, "what is the difference between those two English sentences?". So now to claim you understood perfectly is just not credible.
    – Questioner
    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:25
  • 2
    @sawa: Ditto for you. You claimed, quote: "the question is not clear".
    – Questioner
    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:25
  • 5
    @DaveMG: I am not interested in arguing with you. I learned that any argument with you is a complete waste of time. I hope that you will stop trying to provoke me. Feb 20, 2012 at 1:38
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    @DaveMG: I'm with istrasci here. The context is that Tsuyoshi Ito was not asking that question because he wanted an answer - he was suggesting it as a question that the OP should ask himself "before considering the translation into Japanese", since the OP seemed to be focusing more on the structural difference between the English sentences rather than the difference in meaning. (p.s. I just realized that this is turning into a chat thread...)
    – Hyperworm
    Feb 20, 2012 at 3:44

There are many ways to create questions in non-polite Japanese, and the exact differences in nuance depend on a lot of things, including personal interpretation. I'll list some of them here and try to give my interpretation.


This seems to me the most neutral way to ask. "Did you go to the supermarket today?"


This sounds fairly neutral too, but might carry the nuance that the asker did not expect the askee to have gone.


Although this might be the most "textbook" way to ask, I feel this is rarely used. It sounds a bit strict, like something a father might ask his son.


I feel that these are fairly similar. As similarly stated by others, these sound like "Oh, so you went to the supermarket". The の somehow connects the question to some context, i.e. the asker might have deduced from context/environment that the askee went to the supermarket.


This one is fairly rude. "What!? You went to the supermarket?" or something like that.

There might be others too, and other people might interpret them slightly differently.

  • 今日、スーパーに行ったんですか? would this work? then what would be the nuance? thanks
    – yadokari
    Feb 20, 2012 at 16:49
  • @yadokari, isn't that the same as dainichi's 4th example, but just in the polite form?
    – dotnetN00b
    Feb 23, 2012 at 2:35
  • yes. either i missed it or it was revised after i read the answer. thank you dainichi and dotnet
    – yadokari
    Feb 23, 2012 at 23:32

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