JLPT N4 Grammar: 〜かどうか (How to say “Whether or not~” in Japanese)

In English, we often use “whether or not~” in various contexts.  But do you know how to express this phrase in Japanese?

Whether or not you know how, in today’s blog we examine the JLPT N4 grammar point: 〜かどうか – meaning “whether or not”.  This is a useful word to know as it has different uses in the Japanese language.

First watch Yuka-sensei explain it in the video above, and then recap with this companion blog!

How to Use the JLPT N4 Grammar Point: 〜かどうか (whether or not~)

As stated in the introduction, this JLPT N4 grammar point simply translates to “whether or not” in Japanese: 〜かどうか.  It can also be translated to mean “I don’t know if~”.

The form is:

Short form  +  かどうか  +  わかりません

At the end of the sentence, there are other words you can swap out with わかりません。These include: 覚えていません (I do not remember), 忘れました (I forgot), まだ決めていません (mada kimete imasen), and other words like these.

Let’s look at some examples!

Example 1

A: 今年の夏休みに旅行に行きますか?
kotoshi no natsu yasumi ni ryokou ni ikimasu ka?
Are you going to travel anywhere this summer?

B: 旅行に行くかどうかまだ決めていません。
ryokou ni iku ka dou ka mada kimete imasen.
I haven’t decided yet whether or not I will travel.

In this example, Yuka-sensei obviously does not know yet if she will travel for the summer or not.

Another way of translating this is: “I haven’t decided if I will travel or not yet.”

Let’s look at another example.

Example 2

kotoshi, JLPT o ukeru ka dou ka wakarimasen.
I don’t know whether or not I will take the JLPT this year.

Here, Yuka-sensei is asked if she will take the JLPT this year or not.  But she doesn’t know!

This is why she replies with “I don’t know whether or not / 〜かどうか分かりません.”

The sentence structure is quite simple.  The short form verb JLPTを受ける “to take the JLPT” followed by 〜かどうか分かりません “I don’t know whether or not~”.

Most likely, however, she won’t need to take it as a native speaker 😉

So we have figured out verbs – but what about adjectives?

Example 3

benri ka dou ka wakarimasen.
I don’t know whether or not it is convenient.

便利 (benri) – “convenient” – is a な adjective.  Typically な adjectives are followed by だ.  However to use them with 〜かどうか, omit だ.

This rule applies for nouns as well.
Ex: 無料むりょうかどうか (whether it is free or not).

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