In this question (the title question), the speaker would be asking 'how many siblings' the listener has - the answers given would need to include the listener. As opposed to '兄弟が何人いますか' where the question would be the same but the answer would need to exclude the listener. I suppose I'm asking what the distinct difference in the nuance of ’兄弟’ is in these two questions. Apologies for a rather vague and poorly worded question...

Thank you!!

2 Answers 2



Literally "How many brothers and sisters are there [in your family]?"

The "in your family" is implied.


Literally "How many brothers and sisters exist [for you]?"

The "for you" is implied.

There's no difference in the meaning of 兄弟 here, the difference is in the implication carried by です and います. So the problem is that part of the meaning is not actually explicit but implicit, hence it is confusing.


This is just additional information to complement Ben's answer.

'兄弟' can be siblings both including and excluding the listener. If I'm asked as '二人兄弟ですか', it always includes me, and if the question is '兄弟は何人ですか', it's hard to tell which was implied.

'兄弟は何人いますか' sounds more like 'how many brothers do you have?', so I may just say '一人います', but it has the same ambiguity. To be clearer, I would answer like '私を含めて二人です', '私の他に一人います', '兄が一人います', '上に一人います', etc.

Note: '兄弟何人いますか' does not sound natural. We usually use .

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