ね Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Don’t you think? / Is that correct?

Construction: 

  • Sentence + ね
    • E.g. べるね [X eats, don’t you think? / X eats, isn’t that right?]
    • E.g. はなすね [X speaks, don’t you think? / X speaks, isn’t that right?]
    • E.g. たかいね [X is expensive, don’t you think? / X is expensive, isn’t that right?]
    • E.g. しずかだね [X is quiet, don’t you think? / X is quiet, isn’t that right?]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいだね [X is a teacher, don’t you think? / X is a teacher, isn’t that right?]

Notes:

  • ね is used as a request for agreement or confirmation from an addressee. You can think of the ね of agreement as (“Don’t you agree?” or “Don’t you feel the same?“) and the ね of confirmation as (“Is that correct?” or “Can you confirm?“). ね of agreement is emotive and is paired with rising intonation, while ね of confirmation is emotionally neutral with no rising intonation.
    • E.g. ね of agreement: 今日きょうはいい天気てんきですね。[Today’s weather is great, don’t you agree?]
    • E.g. ね of confirmation: あなたは学生がくせいですね。[You’re a student, isn’t that right?]
  • ね can follow any type of sentence except the impolite imperative (e.g. め [Read!] and べろ [Eat!]). ね can follow the relatively weaker imperatives なさい and ください.
    • E.g. *べろね。[???] There is a conflict in meaning between the strong and aggressive command form and the conciliatory ね particle.
    • E.g. んでくださいね。[You need to read, don’t you agree?] In this case, ね lightens the imperative statement.
  • ね is sometimes used in a non-sentence final position in order to draw the hearer’s attention to something or to confirm that the hearer has understood what the speaker has said up to that point. This is analogous to interjecting “Ok?” or “All right?” in English conversations.
    • E.g. もしもし。今晩こんばんね。。。銀座ぎんざんでからかえるからね。。。十一じゅういちはんごろになるよ。[Hello. So, tonight, OK?…I’m going to have a drink in Ginza and then come home, OK? I’ll probably be home around 11:30 PM, all right?]
  • てね or からね can be used to vaguely and equivocally express the reasoning behind a certain belief or attitude and seek the hearer’s agreement with that belief. You can think of it as meaning “It’s because of X, you know?”.
    • E.g. あの先生せんせいはとてもきびしくてね。[It’s because that teacher is really strict, you know?]
    • E.g. あの先生せんせいはとてもきびしいからね。[It’s because that teacher is really strict, you know?]
    • E.g. みすぎてね。[It’s because I drank too much, you know?]
    • E.g. みすぎたからね。[It’s because I drank too much, you know?]
  • ね can also be used after to make a confident assertion and then seek agreement (i.e. “I assert X is the case. Don’t you agree?“).
    • E.g. 英語えいごかるよね。[You understand English, isn’t that right?]
    • E.g. あの先生せんせいはいい先生せんせいですよね。[That teacher is a good teacher, don’t you agree?]
  • ね can also be used after to express the opposite of よね (i.e. to make an unconfident assertion rather than a confident one, and seek out the listener’s agreement), as in “I’m not sure about X. Am I right?“. In this case ね is spoken with falling intonation in order to convey doubt.
    • E.g. 山下君やましたくん京大きょうだいはいれますかね。[I’m not sure, but I think Yamashita-kun got into Kyoto University. Am I right?]
    • E.g. あの先生せんせいはいい先生せんせいですかね。[I’m not certain, but I believe that teacher is good. Am I correct?]

Example Sentences:

坂本さかもとさんはタバコをわないね。[Sakamoto-san doesn’t smoke, right?]

A: 今日きょうはいい天気てんきですね。B: 本当ほんとうにそうですね。[A: Today’s weather is great, don’t you think? B: Yes, you’re completely right about that.]

あなたは学生がくせいですね。[You’re a student, right?]

パーティーにいらっしゃいますね。[You’ll be at the party, right?]

WILD Examples:

This song makes a funny play on words between “neck” and “ね”. You can hear the phrase いた [It hurts! (don’t you feel the same?)] throughout the song.
At 4:00, listen for this line: これがくさ [This is grass, isn’t it?]
Listen to this line at 2:03: のこ半分はんぶんみじかすぎる[The remaining half is too short, isn’t it?]
Listen to this line at 0:22: わりするわ、わるまでにきて [I’m having another drink, come here by the time I finish it]

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