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To ask "Where are you from?" say Dochira kara desu ka (doh-chee-rah kah-rah deh-soo kah). Dochira is the polite form of doko (doh-koh; where), and the particle kara means "from.

To answer this question, replace dochira with a place name and eliminate the question particle ka. Take a look at these examples:

  • Watashi wa San Furanshisuko kara desu. (wah-I tah-shee wah sahn-foo-rahn-shee-soo-koh kah-rah deh-soo; I'm from San Francisco.)
  • Boku wa Tokyo kara desu. (boh-koo wah tohh- kyohh kah-rah deh-soo; I am from Tokyo.)

The second speaker uses boku (boh-koo) instead of watashi (wah-tah-shee) when referring to himself. Men and boys often substitute boku for watashi to make the sentence less formal

To say that you live somewhere, use the te-form of the u-verb sumu (soo-moo; to live/reside) and add the verb iru (ee-roo; to exist) right after it. For example, Tokyo ni sunde iru (tohh-kyohh nee soon-deh ee-roo) and its polite version, Tokyo ni sunde imasu (tohh-kyohh nee soon-deh ee-mah-soo), both mean "I live in Tokyo."


Talking about Where you're going: When you strike up a conversation while traveling, talking about where you're from is usually followed by questions about where you're going. Asking someone where he or she is going is easy. Just replace the particle kara (kah-rah; from) in Dochira kara desu ka (doh-chee-rah kah-rah deh-soo kah; Where are you from?) with made (mah-deh; up to), and you get Dochira made desu ka, which means "Where are you heading to?" When someone asks you where you're going, you could say Sapporo made desu. (sahp-poh-roh mah-deh deh-soo; To Sapporo.)

Talking about your family

below table contains terms for family members. For each English term, two Japanese terms correspond - a polite term and a plain one. Which term you use depends on the context.

For example, you can call your mother by saying Okasan! Doko (oh-kahh-sahn doh-koh; Mom! Where are you?). Or you can ask your mom Okasan, otosan wa doko (oh-kahh-sahn, oh-tohh-sahn wah doh-koh; Mom, where is Dad?).

Family Terms
EnglishPolite TermPlain Term
familygokazoku(goh-kah-zoh-koo)kazoku (kah-zoh-koo)
siblingsgokyodai (goh-kyohh-dah-ee)kyodai (kyohh-dah-ee)
parentsgoryoshin (goh-ryohh-sheen)ryoshin (ryohh-sheen)
fatherotosan (oh-tohh-sahn)chichi (chee-chee)
motherokasan (oh-kahh-sahn)haha(hah-hah)
older brotheronisan (oh-neee-sahn)ani (ah-nee)
older sisteronesan (oh-nehh-sahn)ane(ah-neh)
younger brotherototo-san (oh-tohh-toh-sahn)ototo (oh-tohh-toh)
younger sisterimoto-san (ee-mohh-toh-sahn)imoto (ee-mohh-toh)
husbandgoshujin (goh-shoo-jeen)shujin (shoo-jeen)
wifeokusan(oh-koo-sahn)kanai (kah-nah-ee)
childkodomo-san (koh-doh-moh-sahn)kodomo (koh-doh-moh)
sonmusuko-san (moo-soo-koh-sahn)musuko (moo-soo-koh)
daughtermusume-san (moo-soo-meh-sahn)musume (moo-soo-meh)
grandfatherojisan (oh-jeee-sahn)sofu (soh-foo)
uncle ojisan(oh-jee-sahn)oji (oh-jee)
auntobasan(oh-bah-sahn)oba (oh-bah)

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