Determining the sense of 聞く

I’ve gotten into watching anime with Japanese audio and subtitles. I’m a beginner, so it’s slow going. I’ve got a frame that’s causing me trouble already. From the context, the sense of 聞く seems to be “to ask” rather than to “to hear”, “to listen”, etc. But are there any other clues in the sentence itself? Perhaps there some omitted particles and pronouns that would solidify the sense? Thanks in advance.


Context is going to be your biggest ally, as you’ve noted.

Things that “feel” right to me based on a lifetime of American English speech, which may have no bearing on Japanese:

  • I would expect to hear “I’ll ask one more time” more often than “I’ll listen one more time.”

  • The ぞ sounds to me like there’s a bit of forcefulness. That fits more with “asking” than “listening” to me.

Just my take-away. I’m sure you’ll get much better replies from others!

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See聞く Meaning number 3 is ‘to ask’. So I would say you got it right.

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What episode is this? Also, what is the surrounding context?

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This is the first episode of Black Lagoon Season 1. A salaryman who just introduced himself (by narration), just got punched in the face, out of the blue.

Clearly it’s the episode where ダッチ will 聞く a Japanese person =D

(I’ve never seen Black Lagoon, so I don’t know how often that happens in it.)


Hahaha. I’ve never seen it either, but I was able to figure out it was Black Lagoon.

Ok thanks.

Okay, from watching the scene, and the context afterwards, yeah, I’d say it’s pretty clear it’s not the ‘to listen/hear’ since the sentence ends up being tied to the context later of the guy asking:


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It’s possible to make this distinction explicit with kanji, and some media do this (for instance Persona 5, from what I’ve seen.)

If you use 訊く instead of 聞く, that can only be used to refer to asking. Similarly 聴く refers explicitly to listening.


I browsed 聞く sentences on Jisho.

We ask the developers.

I’d like to ask a grammarian.

If I were to infer anything from observation, it seems like if we took it (from context) as 〇に聞く where 〇 is “you” aka “日本人” the sense would be solidly “to ask”. Of course the shortest possible sentence is usually better, but theoretically speaking, I wonder.

Yeah, the に indicates an indirect object, and things you listen to, or the content of a question (the question itself) are direct objects.

Listening wouldn’t have an indirect object, so that leaves asking.


Plus I’m looking at the free manga preview on Bookwalker, and the dialog is a bit different, but I think it makes it more clear as right after he says that it’s followed up with a question. The line in question from the anime is somewhat similar, but not quite the same:


And I don’t remember seeing もっぺん before, but it’s apparently a synonym for もう一度. Learn something new.


Ahh, it’s kansai dialect. Interesting that the anime switches it up.


I’d never seen that before either, but I’m guessing it could be written in kanji as もっ遍. 遍 is a later level kanji and can be used as 一遍, which means “once”.

Fun learning for all levels of WaniKani users!


Yeah, looking it up it’s Kansai dialect and an abbreviation of もう一遍.


Which aligns to the dialog that eventually gets to the guy saying:

それで全部だよ お前に聞くことは

So in this case instead of an implied に it’s explicit.


Maybe he’ll say that 30 minutes later at the rate I’m going. :joy:

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Hahaha. Yeah it’s 5 lines after your screenshot.

At least I’m building my Anki deck while enjoying anime at a few frames every 5 minutes. :joy:


Good luck with that!

I tried it with episode one of K-On!, but failed after about a month (= about five to ten minutes into the episode). The reason for my failure? I didn’t have the grammar knowledge, and I was focusing on only vocabulary.

I later tried the routine with a manga volume (100 pages in 200 days!), and had much better success due to looking up grammar as well as I went along. Added vocabulary to Anki, and just took notes on grammar to refer to when the same grammar came up later.