Onamae wa nan desu ka?

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by EugP, May 15, 2008.

  1. EugP New Member

    Russian and Hebrew
    I am a little confused in terms of the use of "wa". From what I understand, "wa" is a particle marking the subject of the sentence. I really have 2 questions:

    1. In one of the referenced websites in this forum, it says:

    Onamae wa nan desu ka - means What is your name

    but to me it seems like it means "What is the name"

    so I think the right way is:

    Anato no namae wa nan desu ka - this makes sense to me because if I break it down, I know "Anato no namae" means "your name", and "nan desu ka means "what is it".

    So my first question is: Is my opinion correct? And is it possible/ acceptable to say "Anato no onamae wa nan desu ka"?

    I feel like I am missing/ overlooking something. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Moderator note:
    The second question is now a separate thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2008
  2. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Hello EugP,

    Welcome to the WordReference fora! :) Hope you will have a lot of language fun (and learning) here. By the way, the fora endorse "one thread, one topic" policy. I have moved your second question to a new thread because it is about a different issue (as future answers will show). I hope for your understanding.

    Now, I'd like to answer your questions.
    Both the reference work and you are right. Most literally, it is, "What is the honourable name?" (well, there is no definite or indefinite articles in Japanese but that would be a weird English sentence). Japanese often omit mention of individuals and objects if they are evident from the context. "I" and "you" are one of the first to be omitted. In fact, referring to your interlocutor with a demonstrative pronoun is often rude. This would make "Anata no onamae wa nan desu ka?" grammatically acceptable but socially impossible.
  3. EugP New Member

    Russian and Hebrew
    Thank you for the explanation! And sorry for the double post, won't happen again.

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