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The two words appear to both mean the English word question. Are they completely interchangeable?

2 Answers 2

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I am not a native speaker, but as I understand it: 質問 means a question in general; 設問 is a question that has been posed. That is, 設問する is to ask a question that you already know the answer to or for the purpose of generating discussion.

Be careful, however, because what we call a "question" on an exam in English is a 問題 in Japanese.

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According to the dictionary:

せつもん【設問】: a question to assess the knowledge of a candidate or student.
問題を作って出すこと。また、その問題。
https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/124833/meaning/m0u/設問/

しつもん【質問】: a question about something you don't know.
わからないところや疑わしい点について問いただすこと。また、その内容。
https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/98804/meaning/m1u/質問/

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    Why was this downvoted? Was it because setumon might be extended beyond just students/candidates?
    – ajsmart
    Sep 19, 2018 at 19:45

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