We have a new student in our class. She speaks Japanese very fluently but her name does not look or sound Japanese. How do I ask “Are you Japanese?” in Japanese?


Answer by Professional Japanese Teacher
(1) 日本(にほん)の方(かた)ですか。
Nihon no kata desu ka.
Are you a Japanese?

(2) 日本人(にほんじん)ですか。
Nihonjin desu ka.
Are you a Japanese?

To ask if someone is a Japanese person, we can use either one of the above expressions.

The first example is more polite because we use kata which is the honorific form of jin (person). Kata is used in a polite way as you are not familiar with your classmate. The sentence literally means “Are you a person from Japan?”

In the second example, we use Nihonjin, where Nihon means Japan and jin means person.

As both expressions are asking personal information, it’s best to add Sumimasen (excuse me) in front of your question to avoid sounding rude.