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の (Nominalizer)

の (Nominalizer)

の (Nominalizer) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Nominalizer

Essential Meaning: That / The fact that / Doing X / That X / ~ing

Construction: 

  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + の
    • E.g. はなすの [That X speaks]
    • E.g. たかいの [That X is expensive]
  • (な-Adjective stem / Noun) + [な / だった] + の
    • E.g. しずかなの [That X is quiet]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいなの [That X is a teacher]

Notes:

  • の (Nominalizer) essentially converts an entire sentence into a noun phrase that can be used grammatically any way that a noun can be used. This works similarly to nominalizers in English such as infinitive and gerund verbs.
    • E.g. Nominalized sentence as a subject: 日本語にほんごおしえるのはむずかしい。[Teaching Japanese is difficult.] In this example, “Teaching Japanese” is the subject and “is difficult” is the predicate.
    • E.g. Nominalized sentence as a direct object: わたしはクリスがビールをむのをた。[I saw that Chris was drinking beer.] In this case, “that Chris was drinking beer” is the direct object of the verb “saw“.
  • One restriction to note is that の (Nominalizer) can not appear in position B in the structure A は B だ in order to avoid ambiguity with the expression のだ. Instead, the nominalizer こと should be used in such cases.
    • E.g. *こまったのはかれがられないのだ。 [The trouble is that he can’t come.] In this example, it’s ambiguous whether のだ is an example of the expression のだ or an example of の (Nominalizer) + だ. This is unacceptable.
    • E.g. こまったのはかれがられないことだ。 [The trouble is that he can’t come.] There is no ambiguity in this example.
  • Nominalized sentences are subordinate clauses, so they cannot take the particle. Generally speaking, the subject of subordinate clause is marked by .
    • E.g. *ぼく小林こばやしさんはピアノをいているのをいた。[I listened to Kobayashi-san playing the piano.] The particle cannot be used to mark the subject of a subordinate clause. Therefore, this sentence is ungrammatical.
    • E.g. ぼく小林こばやしさんがピアノをいているのをいた。[I listened to Kobayashi-san playing the piano.]
  • The nominalizers の and こと are sometimes interchangeable. However, the general difference between の (Nominalizer) and こと is that の (Nominalizer) is used when the preceding sentence describes something concrete or perceptible, and こと is used when the sentence describes something abstract and imperceptible.
    • E.g. 日本にほんくこと/ の は簡単かんたんです。[Going to Japan is easy.] の (Nominalizer) and こと are interchangeable in this example.
    • E.g. クラークさんがフランスへくの /ことをっていますか。[Do you know that Mr. Clark is going to France?] の (Nominalizer) and こと are interchangeable in this example.
    • E.g. わたし自分じぶんからだがふるえているのをかんじた。[I felt my body trembling.] This example takes の (Nominalizer) because trembling is clearly a directly perceptible event.
  • The following verbs take の (Nominalizer). They tend to be verbs of perception or concrete action.
    • E.g. る [To see]
    • E.g. える [To be visible]
    • E.g. く [To hear]
    • E.g. こえる [To be audible]
    • E.g. かんじる [To feel]
    • E.g. める [To stop]
    • E.g. つ [To wait]
    • E.g. つける [To discover]
    • E.g. ふせぐ [To ward off]
  • The following verbs take the nominalizer こと. They tend to be abstract or conceptual verbs.
    • E.g. 期待きたいする [To expect]
    • E.g. しんじる [To believe]
    • E.g. すすめる [To advise]
    • E.g. かんがえる [To think]
    • E.g. たのむ [To ask]
    • E.g. めいじる [To order]
    • E.g. による [Be due to]
  • The following verbs can take either こと OR の (Nominalizer). They tend to be ordinary verbs that are neither directly related to perception nor totally abstract and intangible.
    • E.g. る [To know]
    • E.g. わすれる [To forget]
    • E.g. がつく [To notice]
    • E.g. おもす [To recall]
    • E.g. おぼえる [To remember]
    • E.g. みとめる [To admit]
    • E.g. ける[To avoid]
    • E.g. やめる [To quit]
    • E.g. 後悔こうかいする [To regret]
    • E.g. かる [To understand]
    • E.g. きだ [To like]
    • E.g. きらいだ [To dislike]
    • E.g. こわいだ [Scary]
    • E.g. うれしい [Happy]
    • E.g. かなしい [Sad]
    • E.g. やさしい [Easy]
    • E.g. むずかしい [Difficult]

Example Sentences:

日本語にほんごおしえるのはむずかしい。[Teaching Japanese is difficult.]

わたし雪子ゆきこさんがビールをむのをた。[I saw Yukiko drink beer.]

日本にほんくのは簡単かんたんです。[Going to Japan is easy.]

わたし小林こばやしさんがピアノをいているのをいた。[I listened to Kobayashi-san playing the piano.]

クラークさんがフランスへくのをっていますか。[Do you know that Mr. Clark is going to France?]

WILD Examples:

At 1:25, listen for this line: すべてをあげてしまうはもったいないから…あげない![If I totally completely give up everything it would be a waste, so I won’t!] In this example, の nominalizes the sentence 「すべてをあげてしまう」.

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