In English we'd ask: ''What is your date of birth ?''

Is this the same in Japanese or is the use of ''What'' allowed ?



Which of these are correct ?

Can both be used ?

Is there another way of asking this question ?

1 Answer 1


Which of these are correct?

Technically, neither. 何 typically refers to a thing that you can hold, a specific time, or a definition that you are trying to understand. What you are asking for is 'when' rather than 'what.'

In English, we do sometimes use 'what' in reference to time ('What time is it', 'What day were you born", etc.), and this does pop up in Japanese, but I'll get there later.

生年月日 is actually already pretty specific, translating to date of birth, but there's something here that differs between the English and the Japanese. You can say what is your DOB in English, but you cannot in Japanese. This is because 生年月日 is already specific enough to satisfy the 'what' of the question. As such you need to answer the 'when' of the question. Therefore in Japanese you will need to say 'when is your DOB.'


When you say '貴方の生年月日は何時ですか' you ask, What time is your DOB? This is a little nonsensical in both English and Japanese.

This brings me to an earlier comment. 'What' can be used in relation to time, if you are asking for specifics, like 'what time/day/month/year did x happen?' In relation to birthdays, I would use 誕生日, as it's slightly less formal, and if you're asking for what month someone's birthday is in, it's going to be a less formal situation.

Example: お誕生日はなん月ですか?

Notice the use of なん, or what instead of いつ.

If you are going to ask for the specific time a person was born, I would say something to the effect of What time were you born on your birthday?


If you need me to break this down further to help point out the differences please leave a comment, and I'll do so.

  • Sorry, I shouldn't have used kanji. 何時 is the kanji for both なんじ and いつ. I thought it was obvious from the context of the question that I meant いつ here. But I'm satisfied with your answer. Thanks
    – Kantura
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 4:00
  • 1
    @Kantura More often then not, いつ is written as kana alone. :) It avoids confusion like what I mistakenly did. Woops! Glad it answered your question anyway.
    – ajsmart
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 11:59
  • Yeah , my textbook does indeed say that although なんじ and いつ share the same kanji 何時 , it is convention to only use it for なんじ . My textbook says that when 何時 is used to mean いつ the furigana is often included above the kanji for clarity. As I'm going through a kanji phase I like to use the kanji whenever it exists , even if it goes against convention , just for the purpose of learning the kanji. Like writing 今日は instead of こんいちわ.
    – Kantura
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Kantura You may be interested to see the answer I wrote to this question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/73927/…
    – ajsmart
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 13:35

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