How to say where are you in Japanese? どこですか?

Introduction

Hi everyone! How are you doing? Let’s learn together with us through the following article. If you have time, please take a look at many useful articles on our website. Go here. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘doko desu ka?’ when you are watching Anime? Here is the comprehensive answer for you.

1. Meaning in English

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In the first place, let’s learn about the meaning of ‘doko desu ka‘ in English. ‘Doko desu ka’ is a very common Japanese phrase. Japanese use this phrase in their daily conversation. Yes, many times! What is the meaning of ‘doko desu ka’ in English? It actually means “where is it?”. To understand this sentence as well as the Japanese, we need to know each meaning of the word.  Therefore, we have to break every word in this sentence to conclude the meaning overall. Simply speaking, you can ask where the things are using the sentence ‘doko desu ka?’.

Additionally, please note that the Japanese use fewer vowels and consonants than English. Translating Japanese usually would be very difficult if you use the Latinate word like in English and many other languages. The easiest way to learn Japanese is by using the Japanese character itself. Want to know about it? Take a look here.

2. The Structure and Word Definitions

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Doko desu ka is a phrase to ask for a place or location in Japanese. In Japanese, every sentence that ends with ~ka saying with rising intonation is a question sentence. This sentence is very important and useful for you when coming to Japan. Let’s break each meaning of the word to understand the overall meaning of this sentence.

Doko desu ka consists of 3 words, as follows.

Word in RomajiWord in JapaneseMeaning in English
(1) dokoどこWhere
(2) desuですis – the polite form of the copula verb
(3) ka?か?question word that indicates a sentence is a question

Pattern:
Doko + desu + ka?
Where is (it)?

3. How to write doko desu ka in Japanese?

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Do you have trouble when typing the Japanese word into the translator using romaji or alphabet? Same here. This is our help for you. As mentioned previously, it would be very difficult to get the meaning of a Japanese word using other characters than the Japanese itself. In the case of doko desu ka, here is how to write this sentence in Japanese. 

To write the sentences doko desu ka, you just need to use hiragana as follows. If you want to learn the Japanese Characters, please take a look here!

どこですか?” 〜 do (ど) ko (こ) de (で) su (す) ka (か)

In addition, among the sentence ‘doko desu ka?’ There is the word doko. For the other word, desu and ka, you just need to write them in Hiragana. Then, you can write doko using hiragana or kanji. Do you know what is the kanji of doko? There are 3 Kanji for doko as the following.

Doko: 何処 何處 何所

According to Furigana Bunko Website, nearly 75% of Japanese use 何処 as the Kanji of doko. Other than this, the top 2 and 3 most common Kanji for doko are 何處 (9.9%) and 何所 (6.2%), respectively. Choosing one of these 2 words would not be bad.  Do you need to learn more about the Japanese character? Please find out here.

4. Doko desu ka in JLPT

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If you want to know the level of the sentences doko desu ka in Japanese. Here is the right explanation for you. The sentence doko desu ka consists of the word doko which means where or what place in Japanese. Doko is a Japanese pronoun and belongs to the level N5 at the JLPT. Do you want to learn more about the JLPT? Read here.

5. Similar word to doko

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Doko desu ka is truly a common sentence when asking the place or locations in Japanese. Unfortunately, a culture of respect for social status is highly enforced in Japan. You can’t say this to your boss or someone you respect. Thence, here are the other polite words you must know. Using them would make your Japanese sound more beautiful and softer!

In case you want to use another word instead of using doko when asking for the place, the options below would be the best choices depending on the place. 

  • For the unspecified place: どちらですか? dochira desu ka? (very polite sentence)
  • Of the place, you barely know: どこかしら doko kashira, どちらかしら dochira kashira

6. Example of the sentences

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To understand how to use and when using the sentence, doko desu ka please look at the example below. 

ExampleRomaji (How to Read)Meaning in English
Asking position
ここはどこですか?
Koko wa doko desu ka?Where is here?
Asking place
博物館はどこですか?
Hakubutsukan wa doko desu ka?Where is the museum?
Asking object
お皿はどこですか?
Osara wa doko desu ka?Where is the plate?
Asking person
田中さんはどこですか?
Tanaka san wa doko desu ka?Where is Mr. Tanaka?

7. ~wa doko desu ka?

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As you might notice in the previous part, there is always the particle wa (は) before the sentence doko desu ka. Please keep in mind that, the most common structure of this sentence is actually with the object as follows.

Topic (Object/Subject/Place) + wa (は) + doko desu ka?

Please look at the dialogue below.

Original Dialogue in JapaneseDialogue In RomajiDialogue In English
A: 彼の本はどこですか?
B: 机の上です。
A: Kare no hong wa doko desu ka?
B: Tsukue no ue desu.
A: Where is his book?
B: It is on the desk.
A:最初の写真はどこですか?
B:きれいですね。
A: Saisho no shashin wa dokodesu ka?
B: Kireidesu ne.
A: Where was the first picture taken?
B: It looks beautiful.
A: あなたがずっと行きたかった場所はどこですか?。
B: 日本です。
A: Anata ga zutto ikitakatta basho wa dokodesu ka?
B: Nihondesu.
A: Where are the places you have always wanted to go?
B: It is Japan.
A: ご出身はどこですか。
B:日本から参りました。

A: Go shusshin wa dokodesu ka?
B: Nihon kara mairimashita.
A: Where are you from?
B: I’m from Japan.
A: 完了することができないのはどこですか?
B: 参考文献の所ですが、、
A: Kanryō suru koto ga dekinai no wa dokodesu ka?
B: Sankō bunken no tokorodesuga,,
A: Where is the part that you cannot finish?
B: The reference parts,..

8. How do you say “where are you” in Japanese?

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There are 2 ways to say “where are you” in Japanese. These are the most common and polite ways that the Japanese often use in their daily conversation. What are they? Take a look below!

SentencesMeaning in English
(1) あなたはどこですか?
Anata wa doko desu ka?
Where are you?
(2) どこにいますか?
Doko ni imasu ka?

Where are (you) at?

Generally speaking, you may use the above sentences to anyone. When you want to make them feel more casual you just need to change the end of the word as the following?

SentencesMeaning in English
(1)あなたはどこ?
Anata wa doko?
Where are you?
(2)どこにいるの?
Doko ni iru no?
Where are (you) at?

When you remove ~desu and ~masu in your sentences, it becomes casual automatically. You may hear these patterns in the casual Japanese conversations on Anime or J-Drama.

9. Toire wa doko desu ka? Meaning in English

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As you might hear this phrase most of the time in any Japanese book. Exactly! The phrase ‘Toire wa doko desu ka?‘ Is a very important, yet useful sentence. Coming to Japan, you must have an abundance of chances to use this sentence, right! I believe you want to get into trouble to find the toilet when you need it the most.

The original sentences written in Japanese is トイレはどこですか? (toire wa doko desu ka?) means Where is a toilet? Or Where is the toilet?

 Structure: Topic (Subject/Object/Place) + wa (Particle means is or ‘to be’)+ doko desu ka? (where)

You can use this pattern when asking about other rooms, buildings, and many places. Such as the following:

SentencesMeaning in English
(1) 受付はどこですか?
Uketsuke wa dokodesu ka?  
Where is the reception?
(2) 郵便局はどこですか?
Yūbinkyoku wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the post office?
(3) 教室はどこですか?
Kyōshitsu wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the classroom?
(4) 図書館はどこですか?
Toshokan wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the library?
(5) 東京駅はどこですか?
Tōkyō Eki wa dokodesu ka?
Where is Tokyo Station?

10. Doko desu ka for traveling in Japan

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Aside from ‘toire wa doko desu ka?’, there are several useful sentences for travelers using ~wa doko desu ka? Please see the following table. Remember these sentences would help you a lot. Thus, please keep them!

SentencesMeaning in English
(1) 一番近いホテルはどこですか?
Ichiban chikai hoteru wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the nearest hotel?
(2) 交番はどこですか?
Kōban wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the police box?
(3) 観光案内所はどこですか?
Kankōan’naijo wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the tourist information center?
(4) コンビニはどこですか?
Konbini wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the convenience store?
(5) 商店街はどこですか?
Shōten gai wa dokodesu ka?
Where is the shopping street?

11. Doko desu ka? VS Doko ni imasu ka?

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Are you in trouble to get the meaning of “doko desu ka?” and “doko ni imasu ka?”. In some cases, these two sentences are the having the same thing in English. Nevertheless, there are other situations where they are different.

People can use “doko desu ka?” for all conditions without any trouble because it means (where is…). On the other hand, we can use ‘doko ni imasu ka?‘ Only to ask people and animate things. Why? Because the word ‘imasu‘ or ‘iru (casual)’ is a verb that indicates living objects. We cannot use it for nouns and non-living objects. Take a look at the following sample to get more!

Sentences in Japanese Meaning in English
(1) 猫(ねこ)はどこにいますか?
“Neko wa doko ni imasu ka?”
Where is the cat?
(2) 彼女(かのじょ)はどこにいますか?
“Kanojo wa doko ni imasu ka?”
Where is she?
(3) 先生(せんせい)はどこにいますか?
“Sensei wa doko ni imasu ka?”
Where is the teacher?

12. Doko desu ka? VS Doko ni arimasu ka?

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As mentioned previously, doko desu ka has a very neutral meaning. Meanwhile, doko ni arimasu ka is often used for specific cases. In the sentences ‘doko ni arimasu ka?’, there is the word ‘arimasu’ or ‘aru’ which is a verb that indicates inanimate objects. We cannot use it for animate things. Please remember and look at the following example!

Sentences in JapaneseMeaning in English
(1) 部屋(へや)はどこですか?
“Heya wa doko desu ka?” 
Where is the rooms?
(2) 病院(びょういん)はどこですか?
“Byouin wa doko desu ka?” 
Where is the hospital?
(3) 鍵(かぎ)はどこですか?
”Kagi wa doko desu ka?
Where is the key?

Conclusion

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we can conclude the meaning and how to use the Japanese phrase, doko desu ka with the following points:

  • Doko desu ka? means where is (it) in Japanese.
  • The phrase doko desu ka? is a very general and neutral yet common phrase in Japanese daily conversations.
  • Memorizing as well as practicing the example of sentences would enhance our understanding and fluentness in Japanese. Please review the example and practice more!

Commonly, there are object and particle wa before the phrase doko desu ka? In order to make a question in Japanese.

About Eka 72 Articles
Hi, I’m Eka. I’m one of the awardees of the 2016 MEXT College to College Recommendation Scholarship. I completed the one-year JASSO-Tokyo Japanese course (2016-2017) and won second place in the Japanese speech competition held internally at JASSO at that time. After that, I continued my education at NIT. Akashi College and earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree after 2 years of study. I love teaching children English and Japanese, writing blogs, designing graphics, and creating digital content. I hope you enjoy the knowledge I share here based on the experience I gained in Japan for over 5 years. Thanks!