1

Consider

もしたくさんの遺産があったとしたらどのように使うのですか?

Say if it so happened that you had a lot of inheritance, how would you use it?

versus

仮に、お金が一億円あるとしたら、何に使いますか。

If you were to have 100 million yen for instance, what would you use it for?

In the former sentence, のですか is used, while in the latter just か is used.

Question: Why is のですか used in one and not the other?

I was taught that のですか is appropriate to use when seeking specific information to fill a gap in knowledge. It seems that a direct question (like in the second sentence) qualifies as that. So why does it lack the 「のですか」?

2 Answers 2

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This type of の for seeking clarification is generally not used with purely hypothetical questions that have nothing to do with the reality. There is usually no need to "wonder about someone's intention" for such questions.

  1. 仮にお金が1億円あるとしたら、何に使いますか?
  2. 仮にお金が1億円あるとしたら、何に使うのですか?

Sentence 1 is a natural what-if question you can ask casually for fun.

Sentence 2 sounds rather sudden when said without any prior context. It sounds like the speaker has some actual concern about a millionaire's (or the listener's) mindset. However, it would sound natural after sufficient context has been established, as in the following examples:

  • 私には大きなお金の使い方がわかりません。仮にお金が1億円あるとしたら、何に使うのですか?
    I have no idea how to spend a lot of money. What does someone spend it on if they have 100 million yen?
    (The speaker has doubt about a millionaire's mindset in general.)
  • え? 今すぐ1億円が欲しい? 仮にお金が1億円あるとしたら、何に使うのですか?
    Huh? You need 100 million yen right now? Even if you had it, what would you spend it on?
    (The speaker wants to clarify the speaker's intention.)

The same goes for your first example about 遺産. It sounds like a nuanced question to me.

1

First, 使うのですか is too polite compared to 使いますか.
使うんですか is better to say unless you're a butler.

使うんですか feels like you've already mentioned the thing or you know the listener knows the thing. 使いますか can be used in more situations, and you can almost always replace 使うんですか with 使いますか。

もしたくさんの遺産があったとしたらどのように使うんですか? would be used when you're already talking about the inheritance. And 使いますか can be used in the same situation.

もしたくさんの遺産があったとしたらどのように使いますか? can be used when you just want to know the answer and try asking it too.

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