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I'm trying to figure out how to ask where I can buy something. From the lessons I've taken so far, what comes to mind is どこに_を買いますか? Google says this translates to "Where should I buy a _?" which would be acceptable in English, but I guess it's not conveying what I want to say exactly. Would this be the correct way to ask in Japanese or is there a better way to ask "Where can I buy [something]?"

  • I think l'électeur answered "Xはどこで買えますか。" because the questioner asked with the expression "... 買いますか?" Although there is no problem with this answer, in general, the expression with "Xはどこで売っていますか。" written in istrasci's answer or "Xはどこで売ってる?" is more common. – mackygoo Feb 1 '18 at 2:09
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Most commonly (and simply), we would say:

「Xはどこで買えますか。」

Note that it is 「どこ」 and not 「どこ」.

Also, 「買ますか」 would be more natural than 「買ますか」 for "can buy".

  • Thank you. Why is で used in this case as opposed to に? Also you say 買えますか is more natural, but is 買いますか incorrect? – Link Jan 31 '18 at 15:58
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    Any decent beginner Japanese textbook will cover the differences in usage between で and に. There are also many online resources covering the same. See here and here to begin. – BJCUAI Jan 31 '18 at 17:02
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    @Link 買えます is the potential form of 買います, so where 買います is used as "will buy" (like: 明日くつを買います。-> "I will buy shoes tomorrow."), 買えます is used for "can buy" (so for example: 明日くつを買えます。-> "I can buy shoes tomorrow.") – psosuna Jan 31 '18 at 17:25
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You can also say

Xはどこで売っていますか。 → Where do they sell X?

The implication (obviously) is that if something is being sold, then you are able to buy it. That being said, you wouldn't use this form if you're wanting to buy something that is not commonly sold (rare/uncommon items, illegal items, etc.)

So you have to use a bit of common sense here: if you know it's something that is not readily available to the general market, don't use 売っています. Then you'd need to use 買えます ("can buy") as explained in the other answer.

  • How about 「Xは、どこが売っていますか」? (Also, is there any known issue with using double stars for writing hiragana in bold in comments?) – Right leg Feb 1 '18 at 0:00
  • @Rightleg seems so (related meta post) – Andrew T. Feb 1 '18 at 3:17
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    @Right leg: You can say "Xは、誰が売っていますか?", but you can't say "Xは、どこが売っていますか?" But we sometimes hear they say "Xは、どこ 売ってる?" instead of "Xは、どこ 売ってる?" – mackygoo Feb 1 '18 at 3:18
  • So, you mean that it's not grammatically correct to consider a place as a subject, except in a casual conversation? – Right leg Feb 1 '18 at 7:40
  • @Rightleg Places don't sell things. People do. But Japanese pronouns for places can also refer to space-occupying entities like companies and organizations, so in this sense you can't say a store as a lot sells goods but okay if you mean a store as clerks sells. どこが売る sounds weird in the first impression because we usually interpret it as "place" どこ. – broccoli forest Feb 5 '18 at 7:41

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