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きんかくじが どこか _____か。

a. しります
b. しっています
c. わかります
d. わかっています

It looks like I asked a 4-choice question, but only 1 choice is outright wrong. The other 3 are all possible (2 are more likely than the other). However, the situation where each question is asked is different from one another and their expected answers are completely different also. Can you tell when to ask which and what kind of answer is expected?

a. しります

This is the outright wrong answer because しります means “to GET to know,” not just “to know”. “Do you get to know where Kinkakuji Temple is?” is a bit awkward question even in English. Definitely it is not considered correct in Japanese.

b. しっています

b. しっていますか question can be asked in a general conversation anywhere in the world and its expected answer is “yes, it’s in Kyoto, Japan” or a simple “no.” This question is merely asking whether or not you have the knowledge about the location of the temple.

c. わかります

The question c. きんかくじが どこか わかりますか is most likely asked not too far from the temple by a tourist who has gotten lost on the way to the temple and the answer the asker is hoping to hear is an instruction to get to Kinkakuji Temple. Because, as it is explained in my previous post, the word わかります/わかる means “~ is clear enough to (understand, explain, etc.).” So even if you have been to the temple, if you cannot explain how to get there, your short answer should be “いいえ、わかりません.”

d. わかっています

A question with d. わかっていますか won’t be asked without a preceding context. As I explained in this post, きんかくじが どこか わかっていますか sounds more like “Do you REALLY know where Kinkakuji Temple is?” so this question won’t be uttered unless somebody says something ridiculous about the location of the temple, like “5 minutes walk from here” when you are in the middle of Sydney!

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