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how do you form informal questions with 何 and without ですか? would 何 just go at the end?

「あなたの大好きな季節何?」

and is it appropriate to leave off です or だ with な adjectives and nouns? i’ve seen 〜なの?used, but i’m not quite sure what the rules are on that.

「これは食べものなの?」 vs 「これはたべもの?」

basically i’d like some guidelines on informal questions in japanese! i keep struggling on what sounds normal because i don’t want to be overly formal and use ですか?all the time!

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There are a lot of ways you could go with this. Informal language tends to be a bit different between males and females, for one. In your first example,「好きな季節は?」or「どの季節が一番好き(だ、なんだ、なの)?」would work. Here, だ is more masculine-ish, なんだ is also somewhat masculine-ish and softer, なの is feminine-ish. You also probably wouldn't want to use 大好き here, since you presumably don't know if the other person has a season they like that much. It is possible to say e.g.「僕の大好きな季節はな~んだ?さあ、当ててみて」though.

「これ、食べもんなの?」,「これは食べ物なのか?」,「これは食べ物か?」are all pretty normal ways to ask the question.「これって、食べられるの?」「これ、食べられるか?」are similar ways to ask the same question (well, they literally mean "is this edible?" though).「これはたべもの?」can certainly work (it can sound cute/funny), but if you don't want to sound like a foreigner you probably don't want to use it.

For some formal → informal examples:

「どこへ行きましょうか?」 → 「どこへ行こうか?」 ⇔ 「どこ行こうか?」

「何をしているんですか?」 → 「何をしてる(の)?」 ⇔ 「何してんの?」

「それ、やめてくれませんか?」 → 「それ、やめてくれる?」

「どうですか?」 → 「どう?」

「これでいいですか?」 → 「これでいい?」

  • thank you so much for this long and detailed answer! it means a lot. i have a few follow-up questions though. why is the format for confirming nouns な and の?what is the purpose of adding な?and is の in 「これ、食べもんなの?」feminine or just an informal particle? – jacoballens May 15 at 22:58
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    The の is "feminine-ish" in that males do use it (pretty often really), but it's used more often by females because males often prefer some other form in informal contexts. Also, the な is required before の because 食べ物 is a noun. If you said これは食べ物の?it would literally mean "Is this something of (that belongs/attributes to) food?" – VVayfarer May 16 at 5:58
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    The なのか?on the other hand is more masculine(-ish). And の -ending can be used (somewhat) more politely with です too, e.g. as in なんですの? This is quite feminine (and lady-like), while a neutral version would be なんですか?which is just a shorter version of なのですか? – VVayfarer May 16 at 6:21

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