I thought の when used in questions is for when you’re asking for an explanation or to have a curious tone, but んだ is also for explanation and I’ve seen both used to end questions so what are the differences between them?

  • Once crucial difference is that generally, んだ can only end a WH-question (what, when, where, how, who). – Angelos Aug 21 '19 at 2:20
  • @AeonAkechi We can say 見たんだ?... – naruto Aug 21 '19 at 2:49
  • @naruto Not a native speaker, but doesn't that have a different nuance from 「見たの?」At any rate, that's why I said 'generally'. – Angelos Aug 21 '19 at 3:32

For yes-no type questions:

  1. 食べたの?
  2. 食べたんだ?

Sentence 1 is very common, and sounds friendly and neutral (i.e., you have no prior assumption). Syntactically, sentence 2 may not be a question, but with a question mark, it sounds more like a confirmation with a surprised and/or accusatory tone ("So...you ate it, is that right?").

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For wh-type questions (どこ, 何, etc):

  1. どこへ行くの?
  2. どこへ行くんだ?

Sentence 3 is a simple, gender-neutral, colloquial question. Sentence 4 sounds masculine (or sometimes militaristic), blunt and often oppressing. You usually don't have to say a sentence like 4 even to your family.

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