"Are you doing anything" vs "What are you doing?"


English, USA
I tried to ask this in class, but it was kind of difficult to explain to my sensei...

Is there a difference between this implications in: "Are you doing anything this weekend?" 「今週の週末は何かしんですか。」and "What are you doing this weekend?" 「今週の週末は何をしんですか。」 in Japanese? 
(Is my Japanese correct/use of "ndesu" correct? >< )

As I understand it, in English, in the former, it is almost always implied that you want to do something this weekend with the person you are asking while in the latter sentence, it's not always implied that you want to do something with the person you are asking (although it is sometimes)-- you are merely interested in what they are doing.

Although this definitely could be debated (I'm going to ask on the English forums too, I think)-- I'm mostly interested in the possible different in implications between these two questions in Japanese.
Thank you veryvery much :)
  • Brave Heart

    Senior Member
    Japan, Japanese
    Hi Ariander.

    >(Is my Japanese correct/use of "ndesu" correct? >< )

    Your use of "ndesu" is correct.

    But 「今週の週末は何かしんですか。」 is not correct. I would say 「今週末は何かする予定ですか。」 . Or rather I prefer 「(この)週末は何か予定がありますか。」(=Do you have any plans for this weekend?) in such context.

    Likewise, 「今週の週末は何をしんですか。」 is not correct. I would say 「(今)週末は何をする予定ですか。」.

    Given that, is there a difference in implication as you suggested between 「今週末は何かする予定ですか。」 and 「今週末は何をする予定ですか。」?

    It's a tough question. The answer is yes or no. It all depends on context. I guess most Japanese people will not notice a difference between them.

    But, of course, if you compare my preferred alternative 「(この)週末は何か予定がありますか。」 with 「今週末は何をする予定ですか。」, the former does seem more to imply that you want to do something with the person you are asking.

    Hope this helps.


    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    First a little grammar;
    Since ん here is originally a の, the verb before it should assume the adnominal form. Therefore, 何かするんですか is the correct form.


    I don't deny that the former at times means "that you want to do something this weekend with the person you are asking" but this implication is not the most salient feature in the Japanese pair above. As Brave Heart has said, the two of the sentences are quite similar in intent because the former "do something?" is indirectly asking "do what?", which is the explicit meaning of the latter. The indirect former is more politer than the straight-forward latter.

    It seems to me that indirect diction is a code of respect for the hearer in that it creates opportunity for the hearer to graciously over-achieve the request of the humble hearer. In English as well, a question-and-answer like "Are you doing something?" — "Yes, I am [doing something]." is rather irrelevant. What is striking about Japanese periphrasis is its frequent use that often makes direct questions sound rude. A question in place of a request is perhaps not wa understood in English:

    [a friend to another in a restaurant] napikin wa doko desu ka.
    (Where is a napkin?)
    Instead of a reply like "On the table on your right," the hearer more than likely leans over to the table and get a napkin for the speaker.
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