In Lesson 39, you learned that the basic word for “what” is 誰. In addition to this, there two additional words for “who” that become important when speaking in more formal/politer situations. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at these words. The words we will look at are 誰, どなた, どちら, and どいつ.
After we learn about the words for "who," we will go over the two words for "where," どこ and どちら.
The basic word for “who,” 誰, may be used in casual, plain, and polite speech. It is for all intended purposes, the generic word for asking “who” someone is.
Who did that?
Who should I pass this to?
Who should I ask?
Whose is this?
Who are you?
Sentence Note: This sentence would likely be spoken by a guy in an extremely informal, abrupt fashion, most likely to someone who he views to be inferior to himself.
Who is the fairest of them all?
Sentence Note: The use of だい at the end of the sentence indicates a rather coarse, abrupt, masculine question. It is rather bombastic and isn’t used so much anymore, but you will hear it frequently used in anime, music, etc.
どなた is the respectful version of 誰. Its purpose is to ask who someone is. However, it is normally not used at someone directly. For instance, you might ask your boss about who someone is by using どなた, but you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say どなたですか. However, if you were to ask someone who happened to just appear to you and are perplexed as to how that person is, you could respond with Ex.7
Who are you?
Who is it that gave the flowers?
Who is it that’s next?
Sentence Note: In Ex. 9, the speaker is merely asking for whoever is next to point himself/herself out. It is almost undoubtedly the case that the speaker knows who the person next is, and it’s also likely that the case that the person next is physically near the speaker.
Excuse me, but who is the person in charge?
Anyone, is there someone who knows who this child is?
When used to mean “who,” どちら is almost used asどちら様. This is used to ask not just who someone is, but also who they are affiliated with. This is because it comes from a kosoado which literally means “where?”
Say if you were to receive a phone call from someone you don’t know. The natural response in Japanese to this is どちら様ですか. Perhaps you’re at work and there is a visitor waiting to see your boss. As a secretary who is in a hurry to tell his/her boss who has come by, you may ask Ex. 12.
May I ask who you are?
As you can see, this variation is more respectful. At times, though, it’s not always appropriate to ask “who are you?” to a client or someone you should be giving the utmost respect/courtesy. In such a situation, you may wish to use something like in Ex. 13a or 13b.
Excuse me, but could I have your name?
Excuse me, but could I ask your name?
どちら様, nevertheless, plays an important role in “who” questions in respectful speech. This is because of how it is nuanced towards asking for affiliation and not just one’s personal name.
Who is that person over there (from)?
Pardon me, but who was it that introduced you to come to our store today?
Who should I get in contact with?
“I apologize, but I will need to call you back because I’m on the phone.” “Oh, ok.” “To whom am I speaking? Just in case, may I have your phone number?”
“Pardon me, but may I ask your name and contact information?”
どなた様ですか is also a thing. As you can see from the examples below, it’s used as the respectful form of 誰 in very honorific yet indirect circumstances.
I don’t know who it was, but I would like to show my appreciation to the person I had kindly show me the way a moment ago.
Who should I send it to?
Who should I visit?
Anyone can apply.
It’s OK for anyone to use!
Sentence Note: Ex. 23 is indicative of an advertisement.
In Humble Speech
When it’s necessary that you humbly ask who in one’s company someone wishes to speak to in a business situation, you may wish to useどちらの者.
Who do you have business with?
In reality, you might wish to ask the following question, but there are certainly situations in which asking whom one has business with is appropriate. In Ex. 19, you also implicitly ask about the department of the company the person you are speaking to who has business with.
What sort of business do you have (with us)?
When asking someone who you need to call, you could just use 誰. どの者 may also be used, but some speakers find this to be stiff. Because this is a humble setting, there is no grammatical need to use anything more than 誰.
Who shall I call for you?
Rude Language: どいつ
Although outdated outside of certain set expressions, another word for "who" is どいつ. If you think this sounds like ドイツ (Germany), you'd be right. You would be far from the first person to recognize this. Japanese people also love making puns with it because of this!
Who's the rumored woman?
Just anyone's not alright!
Every last one of them is a German!
Grammar Note: This word creates a kosoado series, as is indicated by こいつ. We will look more into these pronouns later in IMABI.
The basic word for "where" is どこ. Aside from just meaning "where," it can also mean "what part?" or ask about to "what extent" something has gone. You can see how these nuances relate to each other in the examples below.
Where is the bathroom?
Where is Mr. Mikami?
Where do you live?
What (part) is wrong about (that/it)?
It doesn't hurt anywhere.
No matter the work place, my relations with people don't go well.
Could you tell me how far you've progressed?
What part of the iPhone is good?
As mentioned, どちら literally refers to "where." This is seen in respectful language.
Where will you be staying?
Where are you going?
Where will you sit?
May I ask where you were born?
May I ask for your address?
Where is the escalator?
Where can you buy uniforms?
“Mr. Wang, what is your country of origin?” “Taiwan.”
Reading Note: 王 is a Chinese surname. When read the Japanese way, people will read and refer to someone with this surname as オウ. If using a Mandarin rendition, people will refer to that person as ワン. If using the Cantonese rendition, people will refer to that person as ウォン.