So, in English, we tend to use phrases like "Do you speak English?" when what we"re really talking about is ability -- i.e. "Can you speak English?"

My question is, does this work in The impression I get is no, but I want to make sure. Like, if someone were to ask "日本語しゃべるの?", it wouldn"t be "Do you speak" as in "Can you speak", it would be "Do you speak" as in "Do you ever speak", or possibly "Are you going to speak", right? To ask about ability, I have to actually use a potential form of the verb -- しゃべれる. Right?

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asked Oct 22 "14 at 7:31

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The most common form is 「日本語ができますか?」 or 「日本語(を)喋れますか?」. It"s completely OK to directly ask someone"s ability in this case.

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I usually make "indirect" questions like 「日本語をお話しになりますか?」 only when I talk to someone who is far higher than me and have to be super polite.

「日本語しゃべるの?」 sounds a bit weird to me, because 「しゃべるの?」 is a casual expression but the speaker is asking too indirectly. 「日本語しゃべれる(の)?」 or 「日本語できるの?」 is better when you are talking to your friend.

In certain situations, as you suspected, 「日本語しゃべるの?」 can mean "Are you gonna speak (e.g. in the meeting tomorrow?)".

Likewise, "Do you drink?" is "お酒飲める?" (casual) or "お酒はお飲みになりますか?" (polite) in

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answered Oct 22 "14 at 8:39

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Naruto"s answer has good advice on politeness; 「日本語しゃべるの?」is extremely casual and could result in problems if used in the wrong situation.

Beyond that, one point: verbs have different conjugations, one of these is the potential form which implies "capability to become".

日本語をしゃべれますか? literally means "CAN you speak", while 日本語をしゃべりますか would mean "DO you speak" as you ask. In context it"s unlikely anyone will mark a difference between them.

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answered Oct 22 "14 at 9:09

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