Isn't の at the end considered feminine? Also, what should I use if I want to sound masculine or gender neutral?



  • の at the end of a question is not feminine. の used at the end of a statement is. Check link
    – DXV
    Aug 29, 2018 at 2:52
  • @DXV well my book says the opposite unless I didn't figure out something Aug 29, 2018 at 2:58
  • Please check the link I gave. It's discussed in detail over there. Also, I hear の at the end of questions by men all the time. I'm a man and use it too. But, I won't say something like そうなの or 知らないの. These are feminine.
    – DXV
    Aug 29, 2018 at 3:04
  • In the image you posted, 何をしているの may be originally feminine, but it's not anymore as far as I know (23 yrs in Japan). However, 勉強しているの is definitely feminine, even now.
    – DXV
    Aug 29, 2018 at 3:06
  • @DXV ah thanks the link you gave really helped Aug 29, 2018 at 3:24

3 Answers 3


That chart is not incorrect but maybe a little misleading. Here's my impression (I dropped を and い because it's usually dropped in informal sentences):

  • 何してるの?: gender neutral, very common
  • 何してるんだ?: masculine, highly blunt, can be accusatory
  • 何してるんだい?: masculine, gentle, mainly in fiction
  • 勉強してるの。/ テレビ見てるの。: feminine, mainly in fiction
  • 勉強してるんだ。/ テレビ見てるんだ。: masculine, blunt, mainly in fiction

In the real world, 勉強をしているの and 勉強をしているんだ are both uncommon. People usually simply omit の (e.g., "勉強。", "勉強してる。", "テレビ見てる。" as an answer to "何してるの?"). If they really need the nuance of の, they add something else after の/のだ (e.g., "勉強してるんだけど。", "勉強してるんだよね。", "勉強してんねん。 (kansai)").

  • 1) Are you saying that 勉強してるの is feminine as a statement/answer, but 勉強してるの as a question is okay for men? 2) You say that 勉強 is more likely than 勉強をしているの and 勉強をしているんだ (statements/answers), but what about a verb where you can't just omit している, e.g. what would be the most common way to reply that "I am eating"? Would it just be 食べている or 食べているんだ or something else? Thanks. Aug 29, 2018 at 5:52
  • 1
    @user3856370 1) Yes. 2) Good point, I edited my answer. の is not commonly used in this situation unless you need to emphasize it.
    – naruto
    Aug 29, 2018 at 6:08

I agree with the discussion at the link that DXV sent. I also agree with DVX's implication that the image you sent may be outdated. Please let me elaborate:

For the specific phrase:


I think the tone of one's voice is more important than the actual use of の at the end. It is possible to say this in a masculine way, a feminine way, and a gender-neutral way, simply by modulating your voice.

I also think that the image is missing an important third possibility:


This sounds masculine to me, and


sounds like an older man.

Considering the image you sent, if I knew:

  • There are two people
  • One is a man and one is a woman
  • Person A asked 何をしているの? and Person B asked 何をしているんだい?

then I would say:

  • It highly likely that Person A is the woman and Person B is the man
  • It's quite likely that Person B is an older man.

However, this doesn't mean it is always possible to associate 何をしているの? with a specific gender.

So I think an updated version of the image you sent might say:

何をしているんだい? (likely an older male)

何をしているんだ  (likely a young male)

何をしているの? (male or female)


Using ん or の indicates a reason when giving an answer. An answer for a reason would end for "~のです" for "that's why...". ん is more common is spoken (informal) language and the です is either omitted or changed to だ.

Thus the question "何{なに}している?" is asking the reason for "what are you doing?" or "what are you doing that for?". Notice that it gives emphasis in much the way as the phrase in English. Of course, this is also achieved with tone of voice. If you aren't sure which to use "何{なに}し[ている]{LLH}?" with a rising pitch accent is gender neutral.

It is acceptable for men to use the "feminine" forms at times but it is considered more blunt if women use the "masculine" form. Notice that feminine form more closely resembles the polite "何{なに}をしているですか?" as it would be written. In general, using だ instead of です is more often used by men in Japanese.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .