What did 「っけ」 mean, again?

Ha ha, I’m so clever because if you translate the title of this post into Japanese, it uses the same expression that the question is asking about, thus creating a paradox and opening a blackhole in some alternate universe… or something like that.

…As you can tell, I’ve been too lazy to come up with any real content or finish any of the 20-some drafts I have waiting to be worked on. So I put together this simple post about 「っけ」. Still, it’s a simple and very useful expression, so I feel like I can give myself a pat on the back on this one.

「っけ」 is essentially a simple sound you put at the end of a sentence when you are asking about something that you are trying to recall but can’t seem to quite remember. If you want to say, “What was that thing again?” in Japanese, this expression will do just the trick. It’s also perfect for those tip-of-the-tongue type moments.

As I mentioned, you can see an example of 「っけ」 in the title of this post itself.

– What did 「っけ」 mean, again?

You can also use 「っけ」 at the end of polite sentences as well. Though it adds a bit of a casual tone to your sentence, it should be fine if you are well acquainted with the person you’re talking to. It’ll at least add a little more color to the zombie style of Japanese you find in textbooks in any case.

– What is the mean of this word? (I am a zombie)

– What was the meaning of this word, again? (shoot, I forgot)

Don’t forget to add 「だ」 to nouns and na-adjectives

The only care you need to take in using this expression is to make sure to use the declarative 「だ」 when attaching 「っけ」 to nouns or na-adjectives.

Wrong) 今日は、何曜日っけ?
Correct) 今日は、何曜日っけ?
– What day of the week is it, again?

In fact, though it’s not required, 「っけ」 is generally used with 「だ」 and 「た」 for all parts of speech. In other words, it is usually in the form of 「だっけ」 or 「たっけ」. For i-adjectives and non-past verbs, you can use 「だっけ」 by adding 「んだ」.

1) 今日は行かなくてもいいんだっけ?
– Is it ok to not go today? (I can’t remember.)

2) これからどこへ行くんだっけ?
– Where are we going from here, again?

Just keep these points in mind and you should be well on your way to using this useful expression for all the times you forget what’s going on. (Which happens quite often in my case.)

– What is this again?

– Was there a door in a place like this? (I don’t remember one being here.)

– What time does class start again? From 1:00?

9 thoughts on “What did 「っけ」 mean, again?

  1. All of your examples here end on だ or た, does this suggest that っけ derives from か? Also, where does it fit in with i-adjectives and present tense verb plain forms? For example, you can use it with plain form だ, but not ある. Thanks for bringing it up too, another one of those things I hear often enough, but until now chalked up to it being just another crazy inaka dialect ending to things.

  2. Thanks for your post. very good information there!
    And to answer the previous question, even though I’m not sure. When I want to use the っけ with い adj or ある I usually add んだ to what I am saying. For example, 明日授業あるんだっけ?
    Please tell me if this is correct, because I really don’t know… haha I just use it.

  3. Thanks for the question.

    There’s no rule that says あるっけ or いいっけ, etc is wrong. Though, あるんだっけ and いいんだっけ might “sound” better and is more common.

    This dictionary says that in Tokyo, only たっけ and だっけ is used.



    So, it might be safer to stick with just だっけ and たっけ. At least you’ll never be wrong.

    Personally, I tend to only use だっけ and だっけ (hence my examples) but I don’t think I can simply write that you have to add んだ to dictionary form verbs and i-adjectives. For instance, you can easily find examples of あるっけ on google.

    By the way, the same link says that っけ originally comes from 「けり」. I have no idea how 「けり」 is used though. (It’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about っけ anyway.)

  4. I can’t believe っけ comes from けり、perhaps they have a good backup, I would more subscribe to raize-san theory that it might comes from the sound shifting of か、a reasonable shift I think. I was told that っけ is colloquial and that I shouldn’t use it in meeting room, so I asked my coworkers what would be the polite counterpart, the answer I got was “何でしたけでしょうか.”Yuck!


  5. ax: けり is a 古語 sentence ending particle(?) that adds a flavor of retrospection. With that, I can see っけ coming from けり. I can also see how your 何でしたけでしょうか could mean the same thing (though yeah, it makes the zombie speech of textbooks look lively).

  6. Comment on あるっけ…

    If you go by what your typical Japanese dictionary says (the one linked to above, for instance), あるっけ would be ungrammatical:

    Using 形容動詞の終止形 would be, for instance, だめだっけ
    The there’s the 助動詞「だ・た」, which would be something like 飲んだっけ or 食べたっけ

    I personally can’t really say あるっけ sounds at all grammatical to me. True, there are occurrences of it to be found using google, but, for instance, あるんだっけ, ありましたっけ, and あったっけ especially, are all far more common than あるっけ. And just because some native speakers *may* say it doesn’t mean it’s prescriptively correct. I get the feeling that, for the vast majority of Japanese speakers, あるっけ or other such similar constructions would sound grammatically odd…

    Then again, the っけ particle has a tendency to be used in more informal contexts, so perhaps debating over anal grammatical correctness would be somewhat of a moot point here.

  7. Saved the day again, man! Cheers.

    This page is result #1 in Google for “っけ remember” (that’s what I suspected it meant when I encountered it in “ビートルズはいつ解散したっけ”). Thanks for clearing that up!

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