The Meaning of Nani in Japanese

Learn Japanese Words and Phrases

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The word Nani in Japanese means "what." And depending on the situation, "nan" may also be used for the word "what" in the Japanese language.

Using Nani in a Sentence

Nani wo suru tsumori desu ka?
This translates as: What do you intend to do?

Nani is the more formal and polite term to use when asking a question. In other, more casual situations it be fine to use nan. As a general rule, if the following word begins with a syllable from the t, n, and d groups, nan is used

How Is Nan Used?

Nan is used before particles, such as: /の, /で and verb da/desu.

Nani is used before: /か and /に,

You need to be careful when you use nan because, for example, if nan was used before ka/か, it would sound like the word nanka, which means "things like."

Another example is if nan was used in the case of ni/に, it would be nanni なんに. This sounds very much like nannimo なんにも, which translates as "nothing at all."

Pronunciation of Nani

You can hear the word's pronunciation in this audio file: "nani."

Japanese Characters for Nani:

何 (なに)

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Abe, Namiko. "The Meaning of Nani in Japanese." ThoughtCo, Nov. 20, 2017, Abe, Namiko. (2017, November 20). The Meaning of Nani in Japanese. Retrieved from Abe, Namiko. "The Meaning of Nani in Japanese." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 23, 2018).