05 - Oh, it's you, ka?

One of my favorite excuses for not learning Japanese is that I don't have enough time.

Sadly, I can't always use this excuse.

Today is one example—because we're looking at one of the simplest grammatical constructions on the face of the planet:

Noun + か

Yeah, we can make entire sentences just by sticking か (ka) onto a noun.

Here's our delightfully simplistic equation:

Noun + か = Noun, huh?

Honestly, I'm not totally sure how to translate this expression into English.

Basically, we just slap か (ka) onto nouns when we want to say, "Oh, that [noun]?" or "Oh, it's [noun]," or "[Noun], huh?"

For example, here's a line from an anime:

どれだ?…これか!
dore da? kore ka!
Which one is it? This one!

So in this example, he is looking for a certain wire.

He says, どれだ? (dore da?) "Which one is it?"

Then he finds the one—or, thinks that he's found the one, and he says これか! (kore ka!)

これか (kore ka) literally means "this," これ, plus か, the question marker. So he's really just saying "This?!" But the nuance is something like "Ah, it's this one!"

I should point out that this is VERY casual Japanese.

Don't use it at school.

Don't use it at work.

Maybe don't even use it if you're a girl, because it's kind of rough-sounding.

Just look at all these (wannabe) tough guys using it...

俺か? 俺の目的は ずばり…金さ。
ore ka? ore no mokuteki wa zubari... kane sa
Me? I'll make it short. I want... money!

母さんか そんな人のことはどうでもいいだろ
kaasan ka sonna hito no koto wa dou demo ii daro
Mom, huh? Who cares about someone like that.

大丈夫か?タクヤ!!
daijoubu ka? takuya!!
Are you okay? Takuya!

大丈夫か?
daijoubu ka?
Are you guys okay?

If you want to be extra rude, the next time one of your friends walks into a room, you can be like:

お前か?
omae ka?
Oh, it's you.

The nuance of this is something like, "What are you doing here?" Or it could be like, "Oh, it's just you (how disappointing)." It really depends a lot on the context... which you'll get a feel for naturally over time.

Typically, the thing coming before か is not getting much respect... so, yeah... be careful.

I warned you.