What should I do? vs What am I going to do?

Brave Heart

Senior Member
Japan, Japanese
Hi all.

Assuming "What should I do?" and "What am I going to do?" are similar in meaning, could you tell me the difference between them?

I have a hunch that "What am I going to do?" may convey some sense of perplexity, but I'm not sure.

In addition, if there are other similar expressions, please give me some.

Thanks. :)
  • I think you're right when you say, "'What am I going to do?' may convey some sense of perplexity." It usually suggests not having any idea about what you are going to do. In contrast, "What should I do" may (1) either be asking for advice (What do you think I should do?) or (2) may suggest that there may be a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do and that you're trying to decide (but you do have some idea about the possible reactions).
    I'd like to add to Joelline's answer. When someone says "What am I going to do?" they are generally not asking someone else what they are going to/should do, they are asking themselves "out loud". It is an expression of internal confusion and uncertainty.

    As Joelline said, "What should I do?" is simply a question asking for an answer from someone else. You could also say "What do you think I should do?"