In what situation can I use ~かい (for interrogative question)?



One day, I asked my japanese friend how I could invite some friends to eat. He said

I know that we could also say:


but I got interested in why he used "kai".
I'd like to know others situations that japanese people use "kai"

daniel tomio

Posted 2011-08-26T02:35:28.770

Reputation: 2 187

4As others have said, it's a typical familiar inflection. Importantly, it is a typical male inflection... – Dave – 2011-08-26T07:16:55.003



As opposed to 「か」, which is open-ended and can have any sort of answer, 「かい」 is expected to have an answer in the affirmative or negative only, that is, yes or no, with subsequent explanation optional.



× 誰が来たのかい

Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams

Posted 2011-08-26T02:35:28.770

Reputation: 4 719

@danieltomio 行かないかい? is okay too, but I think 行かない? would sound more natural. – None – 2014-05-25T13:14:52.560

could you give me an example? I still can't differenciate "kai" than "ka". yoroshiku – daniel tomio – 2011-08-26T02:49:47.803

「後で八百屋に行きますかい?」 when the listener is preparing for a shopping trip. The listener is clearly stepping out, but will they also be going to the supermarket? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams – 2011-08-26T02:53:01.140

the traslation of this sentence could be "are you going to the market later?". In this situation could I use "行きますか。"? – daniel tomio – 2011-08-26T03:06:22.313

Yes, you could. Or you could use 「かい」, if you want to restrict the answer to a firm yes or no, instead of "well, I'm meeting a friend along the way, so we'll see when the time comes". – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams – 2011-08-26T03:09:01.983

hm, naruhodo. thnks – daniel tomio – 2011-08-26T03:15:19.780

Good point. Interesting. It seems to have been too difficult to whomever downvoted. – None – 2011-08-26T04:05:16.320

1Can't you say things like 何色が良いかい, or is this a nonstandard development? – Matt – 2011-08-26T04:32:09.307

You could, but 「かい」 would be something like 「解」 instead in that case. 「何」 requires an open-ended answer, so using 「かい」 as the question particle would be inappropriate. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams – 2011-08-26T04:36:08.040

2That's my point, though... You can find examples of this sentence online, and they definitely don't mean "解". (Whereas, indeed, 誰が来たのかい" is very rare.) So the question is, are these usages nonstandard, or is the difference subtler than "yes/no vs open-ended"? – Matt – 2011-08-26T04:43:44.993


@Ignacio: It's not 解. The い is a suffix which is probably derived from よ or や, at least according to Daijisen.

– Zhen Lin – 2011-08-26T04:50:21.450

I want to know usage of かい。Now I see that 辞書+かい and 動詞 +の+かい(I think question form for speaking)??Please answer me if ok? – ZarNge – 2011-08-26T06:54:11.513

1can I say "一緒に行かないかい?" – daniel tomio – 2011-08-27T18:29:24.547


かい is used to soften the rudeness of か in informal speech. Sentences like "見たか?" or "好きか?" are harsh to the ear, and using かい instead of か is thus nicer to the listener.


Posted 2011-08-26T02:35:28.770

Reputation: 11 564

1@Axioplase However since this is a "male-usage", how do female speakers soften the か ? – Pacerier – 2012-03-26T03:23:41.883

1@Pacerier I think female speakers say 一緒に食べに行く? or 一緒に食べに行かない? – None – 2014-05-25T08:02:40.813

@danieltomio (行く)かい? / (行ける)かい? is less common than (行か)ない? / (行こ)うか? / (行こ)う(よ) etc. at least among young people. – None – 2014-05-25T13:13:37.100

1for an invitation, within friends among japanese people, is it normal to say かい like "行くかい" (or maybe "行けるかい")? – daniel tomio – 2011-08-28T03:44:44.223

1I mean, is it more common than 「行かない?行こうか?、、、」? – daniel tomio – 2011-08-31T21:24:26.293


I'm not so sure about the folksiness, but it's definitely very informal. I've mainly heard it used in speaking to children and intimates. I don't think it would be used toward social superiors in most situations. By the way, there's an analogous variant of the copula, だい, as in 「ママのおにぎりはどうだい?」.


Posted 2011-08-26T02:35:28.770

Reputation: 2 617

Is there any situation I could use だい, as a foreigner speaker? would it sound weird if I say it? – daniel tomio – 2011-08-26T03:32:02.527

@daniel tomio: yes "どうだい?" is very ok. You can use it all the time you let your friends taste that cake you made, or when you decide what time to meet at (9時は、どうだい?) – Axioplase – 2011-08-26T03:48:18.683