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Recently I have been enjoying the show Chii Sanpou. I expect a few of you have seen or heard of it. The former actor walking around parts of Japan. The Japanese is a mix of casual and polite.

Anyway in one episode he spots something and the narrator says

何か、 見つけました?

which to me is an odd pattern. I think it is "what did you see?". It appears to be polite Japanese but the structure is not what I have been taught. I would have expected

何を見つけましたか?

I would like to know more about this other form. Is it appropriate for polite / formal Japanese or is it a bit slangy? Can I use it in business?

5

なにか means "something/anything".

見つけましたか? -- "What did you find?"
見つけましたか? -- "Did you find something/anything?"

The narration 「何か、見つけました?」 with a rising tone, with the question particle か dropped, can mean "Did he find anything?"
(「何か見つけました。」 with a falling tone would mean "He found something.")

It is the polite form / 丁寧形 and I don't think it's slangy. I think you can use it in business (though it might be more appropriate to use the honorific form / 尊敬語 depending on who performs the action).

Similar examples:

いましたか? (or いました?) -- Was anyone there?
いましたか? (or いました?) -- Who was there?

食べましたか? (or 食べました?) -- Did you eat anything?
食べましたか? (or 食べました?) -- What did you eat?

  • Later on in the day I remembered that 何か is "something" and then I wondered if I misunderstood. But with か dropped I was still uncertain. So with the rising tone I am able to drop か... ok thank you – VictorySaber Jul 24 '17 at 7:56
  • Hi! Given that なにか means "something/anything", shouldn't the を particle still be used? In other words, shouldn't it be 何かを見つけましたか instead? Thanks in advance. – Pedro A Jul 24 '17 at 15:08
  • @Hamsteriffic I don't think 何か見つけましたか、誰かいましたか、何か食べましたか etc. are grammatically incorrect, but they don't sound very natural. 何か見つけましたか、誰かいましたか、何か食べましたか are more natural and more commonly used. – Chocolate Jul 25 '17 at 4:23

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