Japanese Essentials: Ask a question at a store

Posted by on August 19, 2017 – Japanese Study
Ask a Question

So far we’ve learned a few simple phrases on how to ask for an item and how to ask for a price of an item. In this article we’re learn how to ask a question about a product.

Once you know the key sentence below, you’ll be able to ask for smaller or bigger size or a different brand while shopping in Japan.

Sample sentence:

もうちょっとやすいの(は)ありませんか。(Do you have one a little cheaper?)

  • もう ー further, more
  • ちょっと ー a little, a bit
  • もうちょっと ー a little more
  • やすい ー cheap

ありません is the negative polite form of ある meaning “to be” “exist” but also “to have”. You can use this verb to refer to inanimate object only. You can also use the affirmative polite form あります in the phrase above, however Japanese consider more polite to use the negative form of a verb when asking a question. To form a question, end your sentence with the particle か and raise your pitch. Once again, the particle は (topic marker) can be omitted.

We explained in our previous article that the particle の generally modifies a noun or indicates possession as the “‘s” in English. However this particle has many more usages. In particular, の can also be use after an adjective as a replacement of a noun if the context clearly tells what you are referring to.

In this case, の translates “one”. This rules is only valid for objects and can’t be used to speak about concept or people.


John: Do you have a little bit cheaper?
Clerk: How about this one?

こちらはいかかですか  is a set expression, translating “how about this one”. こちら is the polite version of これ and refers to something near the speaker. いかが translates “how about” or “how”. The expression is very polite and often used in stores.

  • やすい ー cheap
  • おおきい ー big
  • 小さい ー small
  • かるい ー light
  • ながい ー long
  • みじかい ー short

Don’t use the following one with もうちょっと:

  • ほかのメーカー ー another manufacturer
  • ほかいろ ー another color

マリ: すみません。これ、もうちょっとやすいの、ありませんか。
店員: すみません、これだけなんです。
マリ: そうですか。じゃあ、ちょっとかんがえます。

Mary: Excuse-me. Do you have a cheaper one of these?
Clerk: I’m sorry, this is all we have.
Mary: I see. I’ll think about it then.

  • だけ ー only, just
  • そうですか ー I see, okay
  • じゃあ ー well, then, so
  • かんがえます is the polite version of the verb かんがえる, “to think about”, “to take into consideration”

なんです is the contraction of なのです an emphasis mark, often used in conclusion, showing the confidence of the speaker in what they’re saying. Here, the clerk can assure that the shop doesn’t have cheaper products.


  • 自転車じてんしゃ ー bicycle
  • 携帯けいたい ー cellphone
  • 電子辞書でんしじしょ ー electronic dictionary
  • パソコン ー computer

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