Point of interest: どう

どう - what vs how
180 words
Consider the following sentence:

Now, what do you think?
This is a very simple sentence - it combines the pronoun どう with the verb
う (think). In English, the translation is very simple: what do you think? (The 'now' is not literally present in the Japanese; it is included just to convey the sense that with this question the speaker is handing over to the listener.)
The interesting part of this simple sentence often trips up both English speakers and (going in the opposite direction) Japanese speakers. In most situations, どう is usually translated into English as 'how'. As a result, it is very common for Japanese speakers to mistakenly translate this Japanese into the English 'How do you think?' Conversely, it is very common for English speakers to mistakenly use the normal term for 'what', 何 (なん or なに) when coming up with the Japanese for 'what you do you think?',
う - but this would actually mean 'what do you think it is?'
Here are another couple of examples where the correct translation of どう is actually 'what' not 'how':
If you were in my place, what would you do?
What on earth is the matter?

Kanji used in this point of interest

シ   おも to think   
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カ   なに    なん what?   
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シ   わたくし    わたし I, myself   
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リツ   リュウ   た to stand   たてる to build   
ジョウ   ば place   
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イチ   イツ   ひと    ひと- one   
タイ   テイ   からだ body   
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