If I need to ask something's name, like how is this called? or what's the name of this?, would it be okay to ask これはなまえをなにか?

I also would like to know if I should use です in this type of questions? Actually my first thought was about saying これはなまえをなんですか instead of これはなまえをなにか.


2 Answers 2


Remember that the thing that you are asking is the "name" so that is going to be the topic of the sentence so that should have the は particle instead of これ, when これ is not the topic you should use この instead. So for me It would be like.

  • この物の名前は何ですか: "What is the name of this thing?"

If you are asking "How is this called?" I think it would be something like this

  • これは何と呼ばれていますか?

よびます: to call ► よばれます: to be called. The you add the ている form because is an state

  • If これ is not the topic I should use この, the same goes for それ=その、あれ=あの? Aug 28, 2017 at 18:40
  • As a begginer I don't know the kanjis, so could you use some furigana in your answer? It's only for future reference... Aug 28, 2017 at 18:42
  • I still don't understand if I should or not use です in that type of question? I've noticed you did but when should I know when to use it? Aug 28, 2017 at 18:45
  • Ok first, when the topic is the object, you should use これ、それ、あれ, everytime you use those inmediately you must use は (or が), but when you are going to specify something about the object you must use この、その、あの for example: "これはほんです" (this is a book), "このほんがしろいです" (this book is white). The question about です, you need to know that there are more than just one level of formality in japanese, so depending on the situation or context you have to use it, if you need a better explanation you can send me an email at [email protected] Aug 28, 2017 at 20:25

これはなんと言いますか (kore wa nan to iimasu ka) - What is this called?

これの名前はなんですか (kore no namae wa nan desu ka) - What's the name of this?

I also would like to know if I should use です in this type of questions?

Well, that depends a lot on how polite/casual do you wanna be, you can drop it if you're talking to a friend or someone who you can be casual with!

The basic rule is that you should just use です after a noun or a na-adjective... but you can use after the explanatory particle の as well, eg:

(あなたは)どこに行くのですか (anata wa doko ni iku no desu ka) Where are you going? (Ended with the explanatory particle so we could use です)

(あなたは)何を食べました?(anata wa nani wo tabemashita) What did you eat? (we ended with a verb, therefore no need for です)

彼は静かな人ですか (kare ha shizuka na hito desu ka) Is he a quiet person? (We ended with a noun 人 so we need desu, since we wanna be a bit more polite)

I put the "anata wa" in parentheses because in japanese we usually omit it if it is obvious by the context...

You'll be able to find tons of questions here about the usage of です, also you can just google it too, it's not that complicated to be honest ^^

for instance: How do you know when to useですor います?and when to use the particles はor の?

  • Now I'm confused, accordinly to @Luis Fernando Badel Méndez's comment, as long as I understood, everytime when I say something related to これ such as state, properities, etc... I should use この, then in your first example shouldn't be こののなまえはなんですか instead of これのなまえはなんですか? Or I should only use この when I explicitly tell what この is like ほん, in Lucas` comment このほんがしろいです. And last but not least, in the phrase これはなん言いますか, what is the meaning of と in that phrase? Aug 28, 2017 at 21:07
  • @JoãoBrgai hmm note that he said "What's the name of this thing" instead of "what's the name of this" like I did, so it changes a little bit. このの is ungrammatical, you should look this italki.com/question/207433?hl=ja I will try to answer the other questions later, sorry Aug 28, 2017 at 21:23
  • While I can imagine a dialogue "What's the name of this thing?" - "Ah, it's a fan", I somehow have problems with imagining the following one 「これの名前はなんですか」 「ああ、それの名前は扇風機です」 between Japanese. Could you reassure me it sounds natural and correct?
    – macraf
    Aug 29, 2017 at 1:44
  • @macraf Sorry for the late reply, I'd say that i'd only use これはなんと言いますか to be honest, and the later is probably a bit too literal. If you wanna suggest a better way so I can edit it, or if you wanna downvote it as a misleading answer, either is fine for me, I'm sorry for the bad answer! Aug 29, 2017 at 12:22

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