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の (Dependent Pronoun)

の (Dependent Pronoun)

の (Dependent Pronoun) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Pronoun

Essential Meaning: The X one / The one that


  • い-Adjective informal nonpast + の
    • E.g. たかいの [A big one]
  • な-Adjective Stem + なの
    • E.g. 丈夫じょうぶなの [A durable one]
  • Relative Clause + の
    • E.g. 去年きょねんったの [The one I bought last year]


  • の (Dependent pronoun) is a dependent pronoun that translates roughly to “The X one” or “The one that”. It is used in place of a noun when it is obvious from context what the speaker is referring to. の (Dependent pronoun) generally serves to make sentences more brief and colloquial. As an example, if Morpheus from The Matrix offers you a choice between the red pill and the blue pill, it would be natural to answer: あかいのおねがいします。[The red one, please!] It is obvious from context that pills are the topic of discussion, so you can use の (Dependent pronoun) rather than referring to the pills explicitly. Keep in mind that の (dependent pronoun) must follow either an adjective or a relative clause.
    • E.g. Following an adjective: わたしおおきいのをった。[I bought the big one.] Presumably, the speaker chose among objects of varying sizes and decided to buy the big one.
    • E.g. Following a relative clause: わたし去年きょねんったのを使つかった。[I used the one that I bought last year.] The speaker had multiple choices of items to use and decided to use the one that he or she bought last year.
  • Nouns that are referred to by の (Dependent pronoun) are not necessarily tangible. They can be intangible things such as ideas, dreams, hopes, et cetera.
    • E.g. いままでいたアイデアのなかでは村田むらたくんがったのが一番いちばんさそうだ。[Among the ideas that I’ve heard thus far, the one that Murata-kun mentioned seems like the best one.] In this example, の (Dependent Pronoun) refers to an intangible idea.
  • の (Dependent pronoun) closely resembles the omitted form of の (Genitive), so be careful not to mix them up. Notice the difference between between the following two examples:
    • E.g. わたしはトムの(ぺん)がしい。[I want Tom’s (pen).] If ペン is inserted after の, it creates a noun phrase (i.e. トムのペン) because の is preceded by a noun. This is therefore an example of the omitted form of の (Genitive).
    • E.g. わたしくろいの(ぺん)がしい。[I want the black one (pen).] In this case, pen can NOT be inserted after の to create a noun phrase because くろい is not a noun. In other words, either ペン or の can be used after くろい, but not both. This is therefore an example of の (Dependent pronoun).
  • There is also a subtle difference in meaning between の (Dependent pronoun) and の (Nominalizer). The difference is that の (Dependent pronoun) refers to a distinct noun antecedent, whereas の (Nominalizer) refers to an entire sentence.
    • E.g. 高田たかださんが使つかっていたのをおぼえていますか。[Do you remember the one that Takada was using? OR Do you remember the fact that Takada was using it?] It is ambiguous whether this の is a nominalizer that refers to the preceding sentence (i.e. “高田たかださんが使つかっていた”) or a dependent pronoun that refers to the thing that Takada was using. The connotation of the sentence depends on which version of the の particle is being used.

Example Sentences:

わたしおおきいのをった。[I bought the big one.]

わたし去年きょねんったのを使つかった。[I used the one that I bought last year.]

A: どんなくるましいですか。B: ちいさいのがしいです。[A: What kind of car do you want? B: I want a small one.]

友達ともだちがワインをみたがったので昨日きのうったのをした。[Because my friend seemed like they wanted to drink wine, I served them the one that I bought yesterday.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:30, listen for this line: きみまえひろがるはNew World, きらきらFuture [The thing that is spread out in front of you is a new world, a bright future]

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