かい

かい Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Yes-No question marker in informal male speech

Construction: 

  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + かい
    • E.g. はなすかい [Does X speak?]
    • E.g. べるかい [Does X eat?]
    • E.g. たかいかい [Is X expensive?]
  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + のかい
    • E.g はなすのかい [Does X speak?]
    • E.g. べるのかい [Does X eat?]
    • E.g. たかいのかい [Is X expensive?]
  • (な-Adjective Stem / Noun) + [X / だった] + かい
    • E.g. しずかかい [Is X quiet?]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいかい [Is X a teacher?]
  • (な-Adjective Stem / Noun) + [な / だった] + のかい
    • E.g. しずかなのかい [Is X quiet?]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいなのかい [Is X a teacher?]

Notes:

  • かい is a sentence-ending particle that marks yes-no questions in informal male speech. だい is the equivalent particle for WH-Questions (e.g. “Who?“, “What?“, “When?“, etc.) in informal male speech. Due to the informal nature of かい, the sentence that it follows must be in an informal form.
    • E.g. *日本語にほんご面白おもしろいですかい。[Is Japanese interesting?] This sentence is self-contradictory due to the formal copula ending and the informal particle かい。
    • E.g. 日本語にほんご面白おもしろいかい。[Is Japanese interesting?] This sentence is OK because the adjective is informal.
    • E.g. *上野うえのさんはアメリカへきますのかい。[Is Ueno-san going to America?] This sentence is improper for the same reason as above.
    • E.g. 上野うえのさんはアメリカへくのかい。[Is Ueno-san going to America?] This sentence is OK because the verb is informal.
    • E.g. *どこへくかい。[Where are you going?] This sentence is improper because かい cannot be paired with a ”Where” question.
    • E.g. どこへくだい。[Where are you going?] だい is appropriate with WH-Questions.
    • E.g. *あのひとはだれなのかい。[Who is that person?] This sentence is improper because かい cannot be paired with a ”Who” question.
    • E.g. あのひとはだれなのだい。[Who is that person?] だい is appropriate with WH-Questions.
  • Informal questions that end with かい and のかい / なのかい correspond to formal questions that end with ですか and のですか, respectively.
    • E.g. Formal: 日本語にほんご面白おもしろいですか。[Is Japanese interesting?]
    • E.g. Informal: 日本語にほんご面白おもしろいかい。[Is Japanese interesting?]
    • E.g. Formal: 日本語にほんご面白おもしろいのですか。[Is Japanese interesting?]
    • E.g. Informal: 日本語にほんご面白おもしろいのかい。[Is Japanese interesting?]
  • Feminine informal questions can be created simply by dropping かい and and using rising inflection to indicate that the sentence is a question.
    • E.g. 日本語にほんご面白おもしろい? [Is Japanese interesting?]
    • E.g. 上野うえのさんはアメリカへくの? [Is Ueno-san going to America?]
    • E.g. あのひと先生せんせいなの? [Is that person a teacher?]
  • For further info on the topic of informal question markers, please refer to the pages on のだ and だい.

Example Sentences:

日本語にほんご面白おもしろいかい。[Is Japanese interesting?]

上野うえのさんはアメリカへくのかい。[Is Ueno-san going to America?]

日本語にほんご勉強べんきょうするかい。[Do you study Japanese?]

このアパートはしずかかい。[Is this apartment quiet?]

きみたちは学生がくせいかい。[Are you all students?]

そのほんむずかしいのかい。[Is that book difficult?]

あのひと先生せんせいなのかい。[Is that person a teacher?]

WILD Examples:

At 1:47, listen for this line: づいたかい?この無常むじょう [Have you noticed it? The transience of this life?]
This song begins with the following line: やっとましたかい[Did you finally open your eyes?]
Listen to this dialogue from 0:42: Belle: りたほんかえしします。Clerk: もうんだのかい [Belle: I’m returning the book I borrowed: Claerk: You already finished reading it?]
This song begins as follows: おーい、おーい、カバくんきみ背中せなかかたいのかい? それとも本当ほんとうらかいのかい[Hey, Hey, Mr. Hippo. Is your back hard. Or is it actually soft?]

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