Guide: How to Say “How” in Japanese

Learning how to say “how” is essential to communicate effectively in Japanese. Whether you want to ask how someone is doing, how something works, or how to do something, understanding the various ways to express “how” will greatly enhance your language skills. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways to say “how” in Japanese, providing helpful tips and examples along the way. Let’s dive right in!

Formal Ways to Say “How” in Japanese

When speaking in formal situations or with people you are not familiar with, it is important to use the appropriate language. Here are formal expressions for “how” in Japanese:

1. どのように (Dono yō ni)

This formal phrase is a versatile way to ask “how” in Japanese and can be used in various contexts. It is often used when seeking information or instructions.

Example: この問題はどのように解決しますか?(Kono mondai wa dono yō ni kaiketsu shimasu ka?)
Translation: How do I solve this problem?

2. いかに (Ikani)

Another formal expression for “how” is いかに. It sounds slightly more formal and is commonly used in professional settings.

Example: このプロジェクトはいかにして成功させますか?(Kono purojekuto wa ikani shite seikō sasemasu ka?)
Translation: How can we make this project successful?

3. どのようにして (Dono yō ni shite)

When you want to emphasize the process or method of doing something, adding “して” (shite) to “どのように” (dono yō ni) creates the phrase “どのようにして” (dono yō ni shite).

Example: この漢字はどのようにして書きますか?(Kono kanji wa dono yō ni shite kakimasu ka?)
Translation: How do I write this kanji?

Informal Ways to Say “How” in Japanese

Japanese conversations among friends, family, or peers often rely on informal language. Here are some informal ways to say “how” in Japanese:

1. どう (Dō)

One of the most commonly used ways to say “how” casually is “どう” (dō). It is a versatile and straightforward term that suits various conversational contexts.

Example: 今日の映画、どうだった?(Kyō no eiga, dō datta?)
Translation: How was today’s movie?

2. どんな風に (Donna fū ni)

When you want to ask “how” to describe something in a casual manner, “どんな風に” (donna fū ni) is a useful phrase to employ. It allows you to inquire about the specifics or details.

Example: 彼女とのデートはどんな風に過ごしましたか?(Kanojo to no dēto wa donna fū ni sugoshimashita ka?)
Translation: How did you spend time on your date with her?

3. どうやって (Dō yatte)

When you want to emphasize the method or approach of doing something casually, you can use the phrase “どうやって” (dō yatte).

Example: これはどうやって使いますか?(Kore wa dō yatte tsukaimasu ka?)
Translation: How do I use this?

Tips for Using “How” in Japanese

Here are some additional tips to consider when using the various expressions for “how” in Japanese:

1. Politeness Matters

Japanese culture places great importance on politeness. When speaking to someone you should respect or in more formal situations, it is crucial to use the appropriate formal expressions for “how.”

2. Context is Key

Pay attention to the context in which you want to use the word “how.” Depending on the situation, you may choose a different expression or adjust the level of formality accordingly.

3. Practice with Native Speakers

To become more fluent in using “how” and other Japanese phrases, it is beneficial to practice with native speakers, either through language exchange programs or by immersing yourself in Japanese-speaking environments.


Congratulations! You have learned several ways to say “how” in Japanese. Remember to adapt the level of formality based on the situation and always consider the appropriate expressions when conversing with others. With regular practice, you will become more comfortable using these phrases and enhance your language skills in Japanese. Enjoy exploring the rich world of communication in Japanese, and always strive to expand your knowledge!

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