If you live or consume Japanese material you may have heard the expression “Nani? Nande? Nandesuka? Nandayo? Nanda?” and many others that apparently mean “What?”. In this article we will do a very deep study related to these Japanese words.
All these words that we mention in the title of the article are derived from the nani ideogram [何] which means “what”, “how many”, “which” and many other expressions related to questions. The differences between them lie in the choice of particles and verbs.
Differences between nande, nanda, nani
In Japanese there are many ways to express questions, opinions and even surprises using the “what” ideogram. If we are to ask “what” formally we can simply say nandesuka [何ですか], if we want to speak as informally as we can just say nani? [何?] That may give you an idea of surprise.
Nanda [何だ] is nothing but an informal abbreviation of nandesuka, if you still have questions just read our article on desu [です] and da [だ]. Sometimes nanda [何だ] can be spoken exclamatively by passing on an idea of “what is it?” Or a frustration, especially if you add the particle yo [よ] into a nandayo [何だよ].
Nandayo may mean “what is that?” But it is a very informal, rough and abrupt way. Women have the custom of saying also naniyo [何よ]. To better understand the meaning of yo in these expressions we recommend reading our article on ending sentences with particles.
The particle ne [ね] can still be used in expressions such as nandayone [何だよね] where the particle ne gives an idea of agreement and affirmation. The particle ka [か] is always used when asking questions, but it is not always necessary. Everything will depend on the tone you pronounce the word nanda, nande, nani…
Although the particle gives the idea that too, when used in expressions involving nani [何] and other particles that precede nani, it gives an idea of any or all. Already the particle de [で] of nande [何で] gives the idea of “why?”, “What for?” And “how?” In an informal way.
In addition to nande [何で], there are other ways to write “why” such as doushite [如何して] which is a bit informal and naze [何故] which is formal. It seems rather complicated to understand the differences between these words, but with time and custom you get the hang of it.
Sample sentences involving nande, nani, nanda
To understand a little of the words we mentioned earlier, let’s leave several sentences that can help you understand their use. Let’s try to leave several examples of nande, nani, nanda and variations, as well as naze and doushite.
|You’re the only one I want||欲しいのは君だけなんだ。||Hoshī no wa kimi dake nanda.|
|In a word, you hate me, don’t you?||要するに君は私が嫌いなんだね。||Yōsuruni kimi wa watashi ga kirai nandane.|
|I am not involved in that.||俺この件に関してノータッチなんで||Ore kono-ken ni kanshite nōtatchi nande|
|What are you serving today?||本日のランチの内容はなんですか。||Honjitsu no ranchi no naiyō wa nandesuka.|
|What is this?||これは何ですか||Kore wa nandesuka|
|It is true? Why?||本当？なぜ？||Hontō? Naze?|
|Why does the moon shine at night?||どうして月は夜輝くのか||Dōshite tsuki wa yoru kagayaku no ka|
|Why are people fooled by these schemes?||何でそんな安っぽいペテンにひっかかるんだ。||Nande son’na yasuppoi peten ni hikkakaru nda.|
|Take whatever you want.||欲しいものは何でも持っていきなさい。||Hoshī mono wa nandemo motte iki nasai.|
How to know if the reading is Nan or Nani?
The “what” ideogram has several readings such as: nani; nan; ka; na; do; i; ka. Some wonder when I will know that reading is nan instead of nani? Just watch if the next word starts with t, d or n, which in this case will be pronounced nan (Examples: Nanno 何の; Nandesuka 何ですか; Nande 何で; Nanto 何と).
If other particles follow the ideogram [何] as [が; を; も; ga; wo; mo] the reading will be nani. Of course, there are several exceptions for both cases, especially if what comes from the ideogram [何] is another kanji that forms a single word. There are cases where the two pronouns exist as in [何語], but beware that the meaning may change.
If what kanji proceeds from [何] is a counter, the pronunciation is nan (Examples: Nannin 人人; Nankai 何回; Nandai 何台; Nanmai 何枚). If followed by a noun you use nani (nani-iro 何色), of course there are exceptions like nanyoubi [何曜日].
Using nani to ask what or how many
The Japanese “what” [何] ideogram is often used in conjunction with other words to ask certain things such as:
|What’s the number?||何番||nanban|
|What day of the week||何曜日||nanyoubi|
|What a day; How many days||何日||nannichi|
|How many words||何語||nango|
|How many minutes||何分||nanbun|
|How many people||何人||nannin|
|How many times||何回||nankai|
|How many (machine counter)||何台||nandai|
|How many (flat objects counter)||何枚||nanmai|
Other words derived from nani kanji
To end the article we will share a list of words related to questions that derive from the nani ideogram [何]:
|何処||doko||Where; which place|
|何も||nanimo||Is nothing; with nothing;|
|何で||nande||Why?; for what?|
|何と||nanto||What; like; whatever it is|
|何て||nante||Like; what (exclamatory)|
|何方||dochira||Which way; which direction; Where|
|何れ[も]||dore[mo]||Which (in); anyone (+ も)|
|何でも||nandemo||Anything); whatever; I understand|
|何れ||izure||Where; which; what; both; any; eventually|
|何回||nankai||How many times|
|何度||nando||How many times|
|何やら||nanyara||Something; some reason|
|何時||nanji||How many hours?|
|どれ位||dorekurai||How much time; How far; how much|
|何処までも||dokomademo||Anywhere; all the places; completely|
|何れ何れ||doredore||What; let me see|
|何々||naninani||What about; this and that; what what? What problem?|
|何でもない||nandemonai||Is nothing; anything|
|何時まで||itsumade||How much time? Until when?|
|何もかも||nanimokamo||anything; all; almost everything|