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Grammar detail: particle か

particle か - embedded / indirect questions
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When か is added to a plain form clause, the clause can be used as if it were a noun, and 'embedded' in a larger sentence as an indirect question.
Another way of looking at this is that a standard ます form question ending in か can be used as an indirect question by converting it to the plain form.
For example, here's a ます form direct question:
デパートどこ
Where is the department store?
By putting the verb, あります, into the plain form, we now have a clause (デパートはどこにあるか) which functions grammatically as a noun. We can use that however we wish - for example, we could use it to create a slightly more polite version of our original question:
デパートどこ
っています

Do you know where the department store is?
This type of indirection is an extremely common way to be polite in Japanese.
In some situations Japanese uses indirect questions where they would not be necessary in English. For example, consider:
あしおと
足音
いた
しゅんかん
瞬間
わたし
それ
だれ
かった

The moment I heard the footsteps, I knew who it was.
Here, the question form would be それが誰ですか, but the speaker is not really actually asking the question; the 誰だか分かった is a convenient way to express 'I knew who it was'.
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Kanji used in this grammar

だれ who   
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ブン   ブ   フン   わける to divide, to distinguish   わかる to understand   わかれる to be divided   わかつ to share, distribute   
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ソク   あし foot; leg   た to add   た    たりる to be sufficient   
オン   イン   sound   おと    ね    
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ブン   モン   き to listen, to hear   きこえる to be heard   
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シュン   またた to wink, to blink   
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カン   ケン   あいだ interval, between   ま space, room   
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シ   わたくし    わたし I, myself   
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