How can you tell the type of verb complement clause without the accompanying particle? と marks statement clauses or direct quotations and か marks question clauses according to my copy of Practice Makes Perfect Complete Japanese Grammar.

Yet what defines which clause is which type?

In the given examples, ビルさんは日本語は簡単だと言いました. The statement clause should be ビルさんは日本語は簡単だ, with the subject being ビルさん and object being 日本語 with the verb being 簡単だ? And the whole clause acts as a direct object for the verb 言い marked by the statement particle と?

Yet in an example for a question clause, マイクさんはだれが来るか知りません(Mike does not know who will come). How is this a question clause (マイクさんはだれが来る) other than it's been marked by a か? Then the entire sentence is a statement, declaring Mike'slack of information on who's coming, is it because the clause is inquiring "who will come"?

Am I mistaken by deciding which particle to use based on the given clause alone, by observing the structure and meaning of the clause, but instead I should decide contextually with the sentence itself?

In a practice question later, このレストランが一番おいしい(か、かどうか、と)思いますか。 should be translated to "Do you think this restaurant is most delicious?". The given answer is ? Wouldn't that mark the clause (このレストランが一番おいしい) as a statement clause? What's wrong with using か, marking it as a question clause or かどうか marking it as a yes/no question, given you can only answer yes or no for a superlative question?

Are these three sentences grammatically or contextually different?

  • このレストランが一番おいしい思いますか。 Statement clause, stating the restaurant is most delicious and asking if *you* agree with the statement?
  • このレストランが一番おいしい思いますか。 Question clause, asking *you* if the restaurant is the most delicious as a question sentence?
  • このレストランが一番おいしいかどうか思いますか。 Question clause, as a yes/no question, asking *you* if the restaurant as "yes it is the most delicious" or "no it is not the most delicious" question?

Can all three of them be translated to "Do you think this restaurant is most delicious?"?

1 Answer 1


In ビルさんは日本語は簡単だ言いました, Bill is the one who said “Japanese is easy.” The statement clause is 日本語は簡単だ. (By the way, 簡単だ is not a verb but an adjective.)

Similarly, Mike is the one who doesn’t know who will come in マイクさんはだれが来る知りません. The original clause だれが来る is a question because it contains a question word だれ.

と is the only correct choice in the practice question. か doesn’t work because the original clause このレストランが一番おいしい is not a question but a statement. かどうか is not used with 思います. “Do you think whether this restaurant is the most delicious?” must sound strange in English, too.


My explanation in the last paragraph above was misleading. か doesn’t work for the same reason かどうか doesn’t work. It’s because the verb of the main clause is 思う. Even if the subordinate clause were どのレストランが一番おいしいですか, which is clearly a question, the correct answer would still be と, making the final sentence どのレストランが一番おいしい思いますか.

  • I see, so to determine which particle to use depends on whether or not the clause is a question clause. In this case, determined by the だれ?
    – Emu_Flock
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 1:10
  • 1
    @Emu_Flock: It depends more on the verb of the main clause. I edited my answer. 知る can take both と and か, just like English “know” can take both “that” and “whether” or “if”, but 思う only takes と.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 2:00
  • @Emu_Flock: But what I said in the second paragraph is still valid. For example, マイクさんは彼が来ると知りません is a valid sentence while マイクさんはだれが来ると知りません is not. To determine which particle to use with 知る, you still need to know whether the subordinate clause is a statement or a question, and だれ is the key to that in your example. マイクさんは彼が来るか(どうか)知りません is also valid, but it doesn’t mean the same as the first sentence in this comment.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 2:10

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