Question marks?

I just started learning grammar with Bunpro as it seemed quite popular amongst WaniKani users. So far, it’s been quite good.

One thing I did notice, though, is that question marks seemed to… not exist in Japanese. Is that the case, or do they appear later on? (only on level 1 of Bunpro)

For example, 「これはロビーの本でしょう。」<- a sentence like that was translated as “This is Robbie’s book, right?” (I changed あなた for ロビー because that’s my bro’s name)

There are no question marks in that, but か also doesn’t appear (か was in the lesson right before でしょう)

Any guidance regarding this matter would be wonderful. Thank you all. <3
Also, if any of you have tips for my grammar studies, I’d love to hear them!

Ah, another thing: if there is a better place to ask questions like this, I’d love to know. I am still finding my way around the WaniKani Community. =D

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There are question marks.

The question mark is implied in the でしょう as it’s a a sentence ender that is similar to say “right?” and would be accompanied with a raised intonation like a question as with か.


Do you have any example sentences that use question marks? Or are you saying that the question marks are part of sentence enders?

Thanks for the quick response, too.

No, I’m saying question marks are implied by the sentence ending word accompanied by the raised intonation. But, yes, here’s an example sentence with a question mark:


Question marks are used in more casual writing (or when writing out casual speech) where one wouldn’t use か. For example, 大丈夫?vs 大丈夫ですか。


Ah. My bad there.

Thank you. That answers all of my questions. What manga is that, mind you? I certainly don’t recognise it, but I am curious now.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.


Plenty of written Japanese does have actual question marks. It’s sometimes used just because the author feels like it (even if the sentence ends in か), but it can also be used to clarify whether the text is a statement or a question. Expanding on @athomasm’s 大丈夫 example, if question marks weren’t allowed, the only way you’d know if it’s a statement or a question is by intonation (which you obviously don’t have in writing) or context. So adding the question mark to 大丈夫 makes it clear it’s a question without having to rely on context.


BP has lots of question marks too! You’ll get to them soon enough, I imagine


Ah. Interesting. I set Athomasm’s post as the answer because it’s got a nice visual representation, too. Good for some mini reading exercise as well. I encourage others with the same question I had to read all the answers, though! They’re all well-explained. =D


Ooo. Perfect. I shall keep an eye out!

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Punctuation is a borrowed concept in Japanese. As I understand there are no strict rules. question marks are used at writer’s discretion, perhaps for extra emphasis. Or in case of casual speech it plays the role of rising intonation.


Here’s my experience. My textbook, Minna no Nihongo, does not use question marks. My Japanese friend, who lives in Kawasaki, always uses a question mark after ka when she writes to me. It seems that officially question marks do not exist. But my friend, who lived and worked in San Francisco for a few years, uses them in her Japanese writing to me. As for me, I do not use them because I want to learn the correct forms of Japanese writing.

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Well, lots of novels use them so I would not say it’s incorrect Japanese.


Yeah, not surprised. Textbook Japanese is going to be of a more formal kind where you wouldn’t normally use them.

So then why does it exist in the JIS X 4051 standard?

It’s not incorrect. It’s just not proper “formal” writing, but why would you be writing to your friend that way?

  1. I’m not familiar with that source.
  2. I’m not advanced enough to read novels yet.
  3. As I said, I want to learn correct Japanese. That does not imply that other ways are incorrect. Informal grammar and dialect forms are correct in their sphere of usage. I speak German, and I am familiar with informal grammar, colloquial usage in that language, as well as several Swiss-German dialects. I acquired those competencies after sustained German study for 8 years. I will probably acquire colloquial usage and writing skills in Japanese the same way. Right now, I find keigo and informal Japenese confusing. It distracts me from what I’m learning.
  4. I write to my friend that way because, other than my weekly Japanese lesson, she is the only person with whom I use Japanese. My Japanese teacher has told that when writing Japanese people expect formal grammar and usage. So, I use it as my teacher instructs.
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In formal situations, yes. No one is texting their close friends in that style. I think you may have confused the context she was referring to when saying that. I have Japanese friends I’ve met in my learning, too. They use a conversational style when we chat as I would with friends who aren’t Japanese.


Yeah. Presumably your friend understands that this is likely “textbook Japanese”, but if you continued to write to friends that say forever, they’d think you were being pretty stiff and unfriendly.


=O You can respond from emails?! Wow.

Good luck, by the way. I hope your studying goes well! I would like to follow a similar path, so I feel obligated to support you in this case.

Interesting points, too.

I want to learn lots of ways to say the same things. I am trying the same with English. I don’t want to have resort to words like thing, or just basic adjectives all of the time. I want to have a word for everything, if that makes sense?

Whether it’s polite, informal, rude, condescending, weird. All of it. It’s fun, after all. =D