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The Difference between Nani Desu Ka and Nani Sore- (Grammatically correct)

The Difference between Nani Desu Ka and Nani Sore- (Grammatically correct)

Nani Desu Ka means “What is this?” It is correctly written as Nan Desu ka, while Nani Sore refers to the thing that belongs to you, or which you already have. Although Nani Sore is considered grammatically incorrect, The second one is thought to be incorrect, and the first one is written as Nan Desu ka, not Nani Desu Ka.

Nan Desu Ka and Nani Sore are two phases of the Japanese language. They have unique usage in terms of grammar and fluency, but one is said to be correct and the other is incorrect. Nan Desu Ka is the correct way of saying “What is it?” and Nan Sore is considered informal and wrong.

But we will take a deeper look at both these phrases and their correct meanings. In this post, I will discuss the grammatically correct versions of both these phrases in detail. You will get all the information you need to be a beginner in the Japanese language. Just stay with me till the end.

What does the phrase “nan desu ka” mean?

“Nan desu ka” in Romaji means “what is it?”  You can use it alone or add it to a sentence, such as “kore wa nan desu ka” = what is this?

Nan desu ka can be broken down as follows: (Nani), which means “what” (desu ka), It is a proper participle used to phrase a question.

As a result, one can deduce that this common phrase means “What?” or “What is it?”  It is written in Romaji (Japanese) as:


(Nan desu ka? kore wa nan desu ka?)  and also, (Nande?) both mean the same thing. 

In other words, It’s a formal way of asking, “What exactly is it?”


(nan) means “what.”

(desu) means; being in a state verb "is"
(ka) is a particle indicating a question

I think now you know the meaning of Nan Desu ka and the grammatically correct way to use it.

Check out this video to know the 100 Japanese phrases for beginners.

What’s the distinction between Nani sore and Sore ga Nani?

You can get the answer from the examples given below:

Soreness in Nani? =?= What exactly is it?
Sore ga Nani=?= so what?

What country do you come from?

“Can you tell me where you live?”

By answering these questions, you get to know the difference between sore ga Nani and Nani sore.

What is the distinction between Nani Desu Ka and Nani Sore?

The first question should concern the phrase “nan desu ka?”  “Nani desu ka” is not the correct phrase.

The second one is grammatically incorrect.

The distinction between “nan desu ka?” and “Nani sore?” is significant. 

The first is usually translated as “What did you say?” The second one means “What  is that?”

"Sore wa nan desu ka?" must be the first question. It means what is it.

The words “sore ” refer to something that happened previously. It refers to the past.

It is the English equivalent of the phrase “it is.”

Both can be used to express what it is.

The subject is omitted in the expression “なにですか”. 

It is better to say それはなにですか, あれはなにですか or これはなにですか,  and so on. These are the Japanese versions of these phrases. It is a slightly informal expression.

“それはなにですか” It is the better way to write the above expression.

I know this is quite complex, and so is the Japanese, but if focused and learned step by step, it has the easiest syllables.

A wall showing Japanese written on it
Japanese is as easy as pie

“Nani Desu ka” VS. “Nani Sore”- What’s the difference?

“Nan desu ka” translates as “What is it?” “Nani sore” is an informal way of saying “What is it?” To be polite, you’d say “Nan desuka sore?” or “Nan desuka sore?”
It is explained in a better way as;

  • Nani Desu ka = May I inquire, what is that?
  • Nani Sore = What exactly is that?

So, it is clear that Nani Desu ka is a polite way to say the same thing that is said rudely as Nani Sore.

There’s nothing particularly interesting in the phrases other than “sore/kore,” which applies to “that/this” in the same English questions, “it” otherwise.

“Nani” becomes “nan” when the next word begins with “n,” “d,” or “t,”.

You can see in this example,

“Nan Desu ka?” or “nan da yo!”

“nan na no sore?” is equivalent, but “na” is used because “Nani” is a pronoun.

The same thing happens when you say “hen’nakibunni,” which means to feel kind of not like you’re used to feeling all the time.

I’ve been studying Nihongo for a few months, and I’m not the best at English either.

What is the meaning of “Nani Desu Ka”?

Nani means “what”.Desu is a verb that means “to be.” Ka is a tag suffix that denotes a question.

So, your sentence begins with “what is?” and ends with “what is it?”

By the way, when “Nani” is followed by “desu,” the I is not heard or said. Therefore, Nani desu ka is the correct sentence.

An image showing Japanese literature
Japanese Literature

何ですか, you must be wondering what does this mean?

When do you put it to use? If you’re unsure about something or if someone calls out to you, do you ask Nan desu ka?

Desu is an all-purpose verb (is). Ka is a question mark. It is used to complete the sentence.

And it is commonly pronounced: Nun dess ka

I hope I have given most of the details regarding both these phrases.

This table shows some of the Japanese words along with their meanings in English.

What is it?
Where is that?
What is this?
Doko kara kimashitaga?
Where are you from?
Some of the Japanese phrases along with their English meanings
Have a look at this video to know the meaning of “Nan desu ka” from this video

Are Nani and Nan the same?

They are almost the same. I will further elaborate with the following examples. 

Nani and Nan are the same.

Nani ga suki desu ka?

It means: what do you enjoy?

For Nan, we have an example such as;

Nan nin desuka?

It is translated as: How many people are there?

Alternatively, we can ask, “How many people are there?”

Another question that uses Nan is:

Anata wa Nan desu ka?

It means, What is your age?

Nan is easier to pronounce. although some Kanjis use Nani in place of Nan too.

In Japanese, how do I say Nani ga and Nani wo?

In Japanese, Nani wo or Nani ga does not exist. You should practice dividing your sentences more effectively. ‘Nani’ is a thing, as are ‘wo’ and ‘ga.’

Nani is a word that is similar to the English word ‘what’.

Both wo and ga are participles. This is a small extension that helps the word to define its meaning in a better way.

It denotes that something is acting on the object that follows it. It means that the object in front of it is the object of an action.

This is the short answer, but if you are interested in learning Japanese, you will have to look forward to sentence division and structuring.

What does “nande desu ka” mean in Japanese?

Nande desuka is an informal way of saying Naze desu ka? Because naze means “why,” this question means “why is that?”

People in Kansai may ask, “Nande Yanen?” You might say something incorrectly, expecting someone to respond with “nande yanen?” It is known as “boke,” and it is one of the basic communication skills required to live in Kansai. For various reasons, you cannot substitute “nande” for “naze” in this case.

What does it mean?

“Kore was nan de desu ka” translates as “What is this?”

“Nan de” means “what,” and the “ka” denotes and asks a question.

Japanese seems to be a very simple language to different people.
The colloquial form of naze desuka is nande desuka. That is to say, why? Why is this the case?

The Japanese language has several levels of politeness that can be used depending on who is being addressed.
Desuka, Nande That is, why is that the case? or why is it that way?

All in all, Nande and naze both mean why and desu means is, and ka is usually used at the end to ask a question.

A new way of learning Japanese through fruit flash cards.
Fruit Flash Cards: A better way for children to learn Japanese.

What does “des ka” mean in Japanese?

In Japanese, the phrase “desu ka” appears at the end of many questions. “Desu” is Japanese for “Is.”

While the particle “we” is used to break up sentence structure in the same way that “is” is, the word “desu” itself contains the meaning of “is,” as in “to be.”

The particle “Ka” is used at the end of sentences to indicate that the sentence is a question.

For example, if I had just eaten something delicious, I could say “Oishi desu” to mean “(This) is delicious.” If I wanted to ask someone else if something was delicious, I could say “Oishi desu ka,” which translates to “Is (that) delicious?”

“Desu ka” by itself as a short response to someone means “Is it?” However, people are more likely to say “sou desu ka” than “desu ka.”

Desu ka” is pronounced as des ka when written. Desu is a formal way of ending a sentence and is most easily referred to as if one were pronouncing the full stop. “Ka” is essentially a question mark pronunciation.

This is partly due to the difficulty of determining whether someone is asking a question or not by simply listening to their tone of voice.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Nani desu ka and Nani sore are two different phrases. “Nani Desu ka” means “what is it?” In this phrase, ka is used to indicate a question, Nani means what, and desu is used as an adverb to complete the phrase. Nan desu ka is the correct way to write this phrase. The Kanjis write it as Nan desu ka, as it seems more appropriate to them.

On the other hand, Nani sore refers to a surprise or action in reply to a comment that seems to be different. It translates to “What is that?” It indicates any attitude or something that belongs to you, although it is said to be grammatically wrong. People don’t use this phrase in their daily language.

So, both these phrases have separate meanings. The correct use of these phrases has already been explained with examples, which will help you to get a better understanding of the Japanese language and its grammar, along with particles.

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