Do / Nani o shimasu ka

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by guyper, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. guyper Senior Member

    French Creole
    'Do shimasu ka'

    What's the difference between 'Do shimasu ka' and 'Nani o shimasu ka'?

    Thank you
  2. SpiceMan Senior Member

    Osaka 大阪
    Castellano, Argentina
    Translating, both of them become "what will you do?".

    But dou is more a question along the lines of how, in what way, rather than what.
    nani wo... is exactly what.

    It's hard to grasp at first since both things are asked "what" in English.

    - shuumatsu nani wo shimasu ka < what will you do this weekend?
    - kanojo ga uwaki shitara, dou shimasu ka < what would you do if your girlfriend were cheating on you?
  3. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Elaborating on SpiceMan's comments, I find implying a response to a situation. You know that your girlfriend is cheating. This situation, as it is assumed, requires you to react. You may be at liberty as to how you are going to react (including a self-imposed restraint) but that you are likely to react is very probable.

    On the other hand, nani-o sounds more like selecting a choice from several possible alternatives.
  4. Ocham Senior Member

    I'm sorry to interrupt you, but ...

    We don't usually say Nani wo shimasuka in our daily speech.

    We say Nani suru? (What are we going to do?) or
    Nani wo suru no? (What are you going to do?).

    Houkago Nani suru? (... after shcool?)
    Daigaku detara Nani wo suru no? (... after graduating from college?)

    Nani wo is usually used among your friends or families. It is rude to
    say Nani wo in formal situation. Do you know we say Nani wo! in
    quarrel when someone offends you?
  5. slara

    slara New Member

    Sorry, I'm really really new to Japanese but... How do you get from that question [nani wo shimasu ka?] that you're asking what someone WILL do instead of "what are you doing?" ?
  6. ktdd Senior Member

    Mandarin - Beijing
    There are only two tenses in Japanese, past and non-past. No future tense exists, not even a paraphrastic one like in English (will do, going to do). Suru (do) is used for both present and future. Only the context will tell which is intended. Similar situations exist in English:
    It's a dead end. What do we do? -- the speaker is really asking about what we do next, or what we are going to do.
    Your girlfriend is cheating on you. What do you do? -- this question is expressed in Japanese using "nani wo shimasu ka". (There are nuances and style concerns but for a beginner it's good enough I guess.)
    In English, simple present seldom refers to ongoing actions. That role is fulfilled by present progressive:
    What are you doing?
    The Japanese equivalent is:
    Nani wo shiteimasu ka?
  7. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Yes. And this can slightly convey "What do you want to do?", too.


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