Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 8: 17/18

question marker

strongly masculine

Verb + () + かい
[い]Adjective + () + かい
Noun + (なの) + かい
[な]Adjective + (なの) + かい
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使用域 タメ語
The 終助詞(しゅうじょし) (sentence-ending particle) かい is a grammar structure that is used in Japanese to highlight a question. Despite commonly being thought of as one word, it is actually the combination of (the sentence-ending particle) and い, another sentence-ending particle that is primarily used by men (in a similar way to and ).
かい will usually be used directly after the word/phrase that it is highlighting. In the case of verbs and い-Adjectives, may be inserted before かい. For な-Adjectives and nouns, なの may be inserted directly before it. However, (or なの) are frequently omitted, due to how casual かい is.
  • このドーナッツ食(た)べたいかい
    Do you want to eat this donut?
  • このおもちゃが欲(ほ)しいかい
    Do you want this toy?
  • 彼女(かのじょ)綺麗(きれい)なのかい
    Is your girlfriend pretty?
  • 彼(かれ)いい人(ひと)なのかい?
    Is he a good person?
When it is not omitted, (or なの) may be shortened to ん (or なん). This is in the same way that and なの would behave in the のです and なのです grammar structures.
  • お前(まえ)一緒(いっしょ)に行(い)きたいかい
    Do you also want to come with me?
  • 大学生(だいがくせい)なんかい。中学生(ちゅうがくせい)と思(おも)っ
    You are a college student? I thought you were a middle schooler.
Although there are some exceptions, かい will almost always be used to ask simple yes/no questions.
  • 勉強(べんきょう)てるかい
    Are you studying?
Because かい is very casual, and quite direct, it often sounds like an accusation. Due to this, care should be taken with your tone of voice, so as not to be taken the wrong way.
  • また鍵(かぎ)なくしかい
    You lost your keys again, didn't you?
Fun Fact
Outside of かい, the sentence ending particle い is not commonly used in modern Japanese, and therefore will only appear in a few very specific structures (like だい). Despite being similar to , い is considered to be fairly ぞんざい ‘rough’, and should only be used with people that you are very familiar with, and never to someone above you.
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Do you really want to go?
[masculine yes/no question marker]
Is just this enough?
[masculine yes/no question marker]
Are you really going to go wearing that hat?
[masculine yes/no question marker]
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 48 & 170
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 204