I searched the term on the site, and I noticed that while it could mean "what's that", it also had some negative meanings. What would be a better way to ask "What's that?"

  • Did you do any research outside jlse?
    – ajsmart
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:17
  • yes, as a matter of fact, I searched jisho and eow. The rudeness was mentioned on a site comment and with some previous chat partners.
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:29
  • 1
    Next time, you should indicate that research as well.
    – ajsmart
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:31
  • 1
    thanks for the feedback
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


何それ? is not necessarily rude, but it is certainly informal. As such, it should probably only be used with friends or family or in an informal environment. Using it outside those boundaries might risk it sounding somewhat brusque or perhaps even rude.

A standard polite alternative is:

それは何ですか。 What is that?

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