Shimekiri made ni dekiru ka dōka wakaranai.

(I’m not sure if I can do it by the deadline or not.)

Situation 1: Mr. Mita finds Ms. Gray working on her lunch break.



Mita: Are, Gurei-san, isogi no shorui?

Gurei: Un. Shimekiri made ni dekiru ka dōka wakaranai kara, o-hiru yasumi henjō de ganbatte-iru no.

Mita: Oh, Ms. Gray, is it an urgent document?

Gray: Yeah. I’m not sure if I can do it by the deadline or not, so I’m doing my best and giving up my lunch break.

The term XかどうかY is translated in English as “whether or not” or “if … (or not)” and is used when we are dealing with an embedded yes/no question. “X” can be a verb in plain form, adjectives or nouns, while “Y” tends to be a verb that expresses knowing or understanding:


(I’ll try and think about if it’s possible or not.)


(Do you know whether it’s cold or not in London at the moment?)

More colloquially, どうか can also be replaced with the negative form of “X” as long as another か is attached to it:


(I don’t know whether I can or cannot do it.)

Situation 2: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are talking at home about their baby’s vaccination.

妻:来週、じゅんを予防接種に連れて行ってくれる? 私は仕事で無理そうなの。いつお休みが取れるか教えて。


Tsuma: Raishū, Jun o yobō-sesshu ni tsurete-itte kureru? Watashi wa shigoto de muri sō nano. Itsu o-yasumi ga toreru ka oshiete.

Otto: Ii yo. Jā, chōsei shite-miru ne.

Wife: Next week, could you take Jun for (his) vaccination for me? It’ll be impossible for me because of work. Let me know when you can take some time off.

Husband: That’s fine. Well then, I’ll try and adjust (my schedule).

When the question phrase in the sentence includes an interrogative word — いつ (when), だれ (who), どこ (where), なに (what) or どうして (why) — then どうか is not used, and the pattern becomes interrogative + X (a verb in plain form) + か Y, as with Mrs. Shiba’s “いつお休(やす)みが取(と)れるか教(おし)えて”:


(Please tell me why you were late.)

Bonus Dialogue: Eric Sere is with his girlfriend, Yuri. She asks him why he looks so sad.









Eric: Actually, I got a message that my mom is not doing well. I’m worried, so I want to go back to my home country.

Yuri: If you leave Japan now, it’s not clear when you’ll be able to come back.

Eric: I know. But I’m so, so worried…

Yuri: Your younger sister, she must be taking good care (of her). Even if you go, Eric, you won’t be of any help, right?

Eric: I won’t be able to tell if I’ll be of any help or not without going (home). Moreover, it might be the novel coronavirus, that’s my concern.

Yuri: If it is the novel coronavirus, on the contrary you’ll be a nuisance. If you wait a bit more, your mom may be able to make a video call.

Eric: Yeah, I guess. I’ll see how the situation pans out a little more, then.

Yuri: Just a little longer. Let’s do our best.


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