The sentence 何と言ったら良いか分かりません means "I don't know what I should say."

But what is the literal translation of this sentence? What is the purpose of the in 良いか?


2 Answers 2


you can think of it like:

What would be right to say? I don't know


What to say... / good? / I don't know

the か would supply the question mark in my literal translation above.

  • 言ったら is in ~tara form, (if conditional, if I say), so how would it be interpreted that way?
    – xrac
    Apr 27, 2012 at 13:28
  • I had wrote "to say" by itself, but I did not mean it to represent an equivalent of the infinitive form "to say" which would correspond to 言う in japanese. I meant it like a question one asks oneself: "What to say? what to say? I don't know..." So another literal translation would be "What should I say/ good?/ I don't know"
    – yadokari
    Apr 27, 2012 at 13:36
  • I would say a good 'literal' translation of 言ったら is "if I said" ... giving us: 何と(what)言ったら(if I said)良いか([would be] good?)わかりません(I don't know)
    – rintaun
    Apr 27, 2012 at 13:57
  • 1
    @rintaun: agreed but it would probably be safer to say: 何と(what)言ったら(if I say)良いか([would be] good?)わかりません(I don't know)
    – yadokari
    Apr 27, 2012 at 14:09

か indicates a question. In English, questions in the main clause will be indicated by inverting the auxiliary before the clause. The addition of か in Japanese corresponds to that, but in Japanese, か is added regardless of main or embedded clause.

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