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<< namini | nanode >>

何 [なに] (nani)
    Meaning: What
    Example: What will you have?
    JLPT Level: 4
    Category: grammar
    Author: Amatuka

  [ Edit This Grammar Entry ]
Use nan before b, p, d, t, n, r, and z. Use nani before all other letters. 
Nan and Nani

Generally nan, or nani is used for which ever flows better.
However, Nani is used when wanting to be more polite and formal.
Other situations may require getting a feel for using nan versus nani, or memorization.

In general, if the following word begins with a syllable from the t, n, and d groups. Nan is used.

Common usages:
Nan is used before particles no/の, de/で and verb da/desu.

Nani is used Before ka/か and ni/に,

If nan was used before ka/か, it would sound like the word nanka, which means "things like" or "something like that" which is also considered rude.
Nanika is instead used. Both nanka and nanika mean "something", but nanika is polite.

If nan was used in the case of ni/に, it would produce nanni なんに. This sounds similar to nannimo なんにも, which means "nothing at all".
Generally mo/も、to indicate nothing, or absence. This could confuse a listener, waiting for a mo to be uttered.


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ex #700   にしますか。[nani ni shimasu ka. ] 
What will you have?  
ex #701   の用ですか。[nan no you desu ka.] 
What is your business (here / with me) ?  
ex #4868   この花は英語で何(なん)と言いますか。 
What do you call this flower in English?  
ex #4869   この箱の中にがあるのか。 
What is in this box?  
ex #4870   あなたの好きな食べ物はですか。 
What is your favourite food?  
ex #4871   お名前はですか。(なん) おなまえはなんですか [onamae wa nandesu ka.] 
What is your name?  
ex #4872   あれはですか? (なん)あれはなんですか。[are wa nan desu ka?] 
What is that?  
ex #4873   あなたが本当に言いたいことはですか。 
What is it that you really want to say?  
ex #8630   を見ましたか。 
What did you see?  

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  See Also:  
    [ Add a See Also ]
    AmatukaNote that 何 will be either なに or なん depending on where it is used. 
    simbaukinstead of anatano namae wa nan desuka I think it is more ploite to say onamae wa nandesuka 
    walterEx 4870/71 the use of あなた seems odd to me as it seems to be trying to impose unnecessary and perhaps misleading English style on Japanese but I am not a native J-speaker and am a novice - any comments from native speakers? 

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