どう / いかが / どうして / どうやって Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Interrogative Adverb
Essential Meaning: How / In what way
- どう is an adverb that corresponds to the English interrogative word “How?” or to the interrogative phrase “In what way?” The polite version of どう is いかが. In informal speech, ですか may be omitted after どう / いかが.
- E.g. お母さんはどうですか。[How’s your mother?]
- E.g. お母さんはどう。[How’s your mother?]
- どう / いかが can also be used to offer or suggest something (e.g. “How about X?“, “Would you like X?“). In such cases, どう / いかが are used to inquire about the hearer’s state of mind rather than the state of what is being offered or suggested.
- E.g. コーヒーはどうですか。[How do you feel about the coffee? / Would you like some coffee?] In this case, どう is used to inquire about the hearer’s state of mind regarding the coffee rather than the specifics surrounding the coffee itself. It’s ambiguous whether the speaker is offering the hearer some coffee or is referring to some pre-existing coffee.
- どう is also used to ask about the way of doing something. いかが is generally not used in this way.
- E.g. この言葉はどう読みますか。[How do you read this word?]
- The idiomatic expression どうして is used to inquire about manners, reasons, or causes. It can be interpreted as “How?“, “In what way?“, or “For what reason?” depending on the context (なぜ is an unambiguous way of asking “For what reason?“, but it is quite formal). The expression どうやって is similar to どうして but only applies to manners (i.e. “How?“, “By what means?“). どうして and どうやって are comprised of どう plus the + て-Form of する and やる, respectively.
- E.g. どうして日本語を勉強しているんですか。[How / Why do you study Japanese?] In this case, どうして may be referring to the reason / cause for studying Japanese (i.e. “Why?“) or to the manner of studying Japanese (i.e. “How?“).
- E.g. この木はどうして枯れたんですか。[How / Why did this tree die?] In this case, どうして may be referring to the reason / cause for tree dying (i.e. “Why?“) or to the manner in which the tree died (i.e. “How?“).
- E.g 彼はどうやってここへ来たのですか。[By what means did he come here?] どうやって unambiguously refers to a means (i.e. “How?“).
- E.g 彼はなぜここへ来たのですか。[Why did he come here?] なぜ unambiguously refers to a reason (i.e. “Why?“).
新しいアパートはどうですか。[How is your new apartment?]
土曜日はどう。[How about Saturday?]
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