Before some form of する, what's the difference between 何 and どう? For example, 何してるの vs どうしてるの? Or 何をしよう vs どうしよう?

Perhaps in many cases only one of the question words is acceptable; then what's a good way to remember which one?

1 Answer 1


なに is a nuance-less "what". Anything can fit. どう can be translated as "what" in some context but usually implies the nuance of a way/path (abstractly speaking) that needs to be taken.

何してるの = What are you doing?

どうしてるの = How are you doing? This can be both "How are you?" and "What do you do (in this case)?"

何しよう = What should we do? Like you're bored or need to find an activity, and wondering what you could do

どうしよう = What should we do? There's a situation that needs to be resolved. "We are not making it for the party, what should we do?"

  • When どうしてるの is used in the meaning "What do you do (in this case)?", is it the same as "どうしよう?" ? Or it has a different nuance?
    – max
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 20:03
  • 1
    @max The difference between どうしてるの and どうしよう is the difference between the explanatory-no and the volitional よう. どうしてるの seeks a general clarification/explanation ("What do you (usually) do when a case like this happens?"), while どうしよう seeks an immediate suggestion for the problem at hand ("What should/can we do (now)?").
    – naruto
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 0:15

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