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How would you express “some” when you’re asking for a list of things or examples of something?

My gut is to just say whatever I’m talking about, like:

好きな鳥は何ですか?

meaning “What are some birds you like?” but that seems more like it says “What does 好きな鳥 mean?” so I’m not sure.

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The English word 'some' is pretty versatile and can be attached to many other words. In Japanese, what tends to happen is that 'some' gets translated differently according to what kind of things you are talking about. Here are some examples (pun intended):

  • 誰か somebody
  • 何か something
  • どこか somewhere
  • いつか some day / some time
  • いくつか some items
  • いくらか some amount

     

Moving specifically to your question, you suggested that

好きな鳥は何ですか。

might be translated with 'some'. However, the literal meaning is "What are the birds you like?" I suppose you could argue that using 'some' in a translation is justified, but there is probably a better way. One simple way would be to ask:

どんな鳥が好きですか。(lit. "What kind of birds do you like?")

Since when you use 'some', you are asking the person to list a few items which match the criteria of 'birds you like', you could also use いくつか ("some things") [Definition here]. You could ask someone to list some bird types they like by saying something like:

いくつか好きな鳥を言ってください。(lit. "Please say some bird (varieties) you like").

As with most things in language, there is usually a variety of ways to express any given phrase or sentence. But it's probably useful to learn about いくつか anyway, so here are some more examples of いくつか, from Weblio (Click here).

  • could いくつか work for “What are some examples of this rule?” for example? – jacoballens Aug 9 at 12:24
  • Yes you could use いくつか for that too. いくつか例を挙げてください or something to that effect. – kandyman Aug 9 at 16:25

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