Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 10: 7/22


How to put it, How shall I put it, How should I put it, Or perhaps, Or maybe, Call it … or

It is advisable to use というか・というか pattern instead since it is much more common and interchangeable


AといおうかBといおうか + (Phrase)

where A and B can be Noun, い [Adjective], な [Adjective] or Verb


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About といおうか

()おうか is an expression that combines the case-marking particle と in its quotation use, the volitional form of the う-Verb ()う, ()おう ‘to say’, and the adverbial particle か used for mid-sentence questions. It may be translated as ‘how to put it’, or ‘perhaps it’s (A), or perhaps it’s (B)’. However, the more literal ‘shall I say it is (A), or shall I say it is (B)’ is also a common interpretation.
This expression will be used twice, where both the (A) and the (B) phrase are being questioned by the speaker. As with many other uses of と of a quotation, the preceding word may be almost anything.
  • また彼女(かのじょ)誕生日(たんじょうび)(わす)れられたんだ。あきれている()おうか(きず)ついた()おうか、よくわからない。毎年(まいとし)のことだから()れてきたけど。。。
    My girlfriend forgot my birthday again. How shall I put it, I don’t know whether I am disappointed or sad. Well, this happens every year so I’m starting to get used to it…
  • あいつの運転(うんてん)(あら)()おうか(あぶ)ない()おうか、とにかくあいつが運転(うんてん)する(くるま)には()りたくない。
    How shall I put it, his driving is rough, perhaps dangerous, either way I don't want to get in a car operated by him.
  • 自分(じぶん)(からだ)使(つか)ってお(きゃく)さんの(くるま)(まも)ろうとするなんて、バカ()おうか真面目(まじめ)すぎる()おうか(わか)からない。
    How shall I put it, I don't know whether to call him stupid or too serious for trying to protect a customer's car with his own body.
  • (かれ)はいとこ()おうか、ハトコ()おうか(わたし)もどいう関係(かんけい)かはわからないけど親戚(しんせき)だということはわかっている。
    How shall I put it, I don’t know if he is my cousin or my second cousin. I don’t know how we are related, but I know that we are relatives.
()おうか is interchangeable with the more common と()うか, but it is advisable to only use it when specific emphasis needs to be made, or for some type of dramatic effect. In many cases, it will sound unnatural in daily speech.
()おうか will frequently be used with fairly vague or imprecise descriptions, in order to avoid but hint at what the speaker actually wants to say. Often, this will be something negative, and will therefore be omitted.
  • (まえ)努力(どりょく)()りない()おうか才能(さいのう)がない()おうか。。。((おれ)にはお(まえ)がこの仕事(しごと)()いていないと(おも)う)
    How shall I put it, you aren’t trying hard enough, or perhaps you are not talented… (I think that you are not suited for this job)




    I took the wrong train the other day. I made such a blunder at that time, how shall I put it, it was funny? or perhaps troubling?... Anyway, it turned into an unforgettable memory.


    A: 'What is Puchi cheese?'
    B: 'How shall I put it, a cracker, or perhaps a snack with cheese... (well, I can't think of the right word)'


    'Who is she?'
    'How shall I put it, his ex-girlfriend, or perhaps his friend, it's complicated.'


    How shall I put it, he is calm or perhaps relaxed, he takes his time with everything.


    I finally started living alone, and how shall I put it, I don't really know if I am lonely or happy.

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