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五万円だったら買うんでか

Zizka

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Hello,
In the sentence above, why is there a ん there? What role does it play? I’ve seen it pop up every once in a while but I don’t know what it does.
Also, why is there a が as a final particle here? I’ve checked in the dictionary but I don’t think either of the two definitions apply. It’s not to indicate the subject and it’s not a disjunctive conjunction. I’ve also looked into Tae Kim’s guide and there's nothing there either.
 

Zizka

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I saw it on duo lingo but maybe I made a mistake.

I'm curious about that ん there however.
 

Buntaro

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Zizka,

Here are three forms of the verb “buy”:

買います
買うのです
買うんです

The ん takes the place of の but with the same meaning. It is my understanding that they all mean the same thing. But I also understand that the ん form adds an additional feeling of strong emotion, such as surprise. This ん form is commonly heard in conversational Japanese.
 

Zizka

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Thank you, so it substitutes 「の」only when preceding です?
 

bentenmusume

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Zizka,

Here are three forms of the verb “buy”:

買います
買うのです
買うんです

The ん takes the place of の but with the same meaning. It is my understanding that they all mean the same thing. But I also understand that the ん form adds an additional feeling of strong emotion, such as surprise. This ん form is commonly heard in conversational Japanese.
I'm going to clarify/expand upon Buntaro-san's post because (no offense, Buntaro-san) I don't think this quite gets covers everything that needs to be understood about the ~のです/~んです form. (Incidentally, many people call it "the explanatory の(ん)", but I'm going to call it "the contextual の(ん)" for reasons I'll explain below.)

First of all, I wouldn't think of it as another "form of the verb". The contextual の can appear after any plain form predicate, including -い adjectives (高いんです), -な adjectives (綺麗なんです) and nouns (学生なんです).

As for it conveying "a feeling of strong emotion", that might apply in certain cases, but it's certainly not universally true. The main function of the contextual の/ん is that it indicates that there is some larger context behind the statement/question. (As Buntaro-san suggested, の and ん are essentially equivalent here with the former being more written-style/formal and the latter being more spoken-style/colloquial.)

From here I'm going to quote myself from a post on another forum where I wrote an in-depth explanation of this. (Warning in advance that this is going to get long. Feel free to just skim it, or come back to it when you feel like exploring the topic further.)

bentenmusume said:
The easiest way to understand the "explanatory" or "contextual" ん is that it's always referring some sort of larger context.

In declarative statements, it works like this:

東京に行きたいです is just a simple statement of fact. The speaker is expressing a desire to visit Tokyo.

東京に行きたいんですけど… (or the like) is what you'd say to an employee at Narita Airport if you wanted to get into the city. It adds the nuance of "I want to go to Tokyo...(so can you point me towards a train or bus that will take me there?)"

If you used the former (without ん) you would probably be understood in context, but it would sound decidedly non-native, as if you were just confessing a desire to visit Tokyo to the person for no particular reason.

With questions (like in the OP), it's still the same basic idea.

If there was a birthday party for one of your friends, and you simply wanted to ask another a friend whether s/he's going or not, you would say something like:

けんちゃんのお誕生日会、行く? Are you going to Ken's birthday party?

On the other hand, if you saw that same friend holding a present, you might react by saying:

あっ、けんちゃんの誕生日会、行くの?(or 行くのか with falling intonation if you're being more blunt/familiar/masculine)

It's not that it's turning a yes-or-no question into a "why" question. It's still the same question, but it's not being asked in a vacuum anymore. Rather, there's extra context that's being referenced. ("Is that present in your hands to be taken as a sign that you're going to the party tonight?" if you wanted to be ridiculously verbose about it.)

Now let's apply this to the example in the OP:

いいですか? is a simple question, a confirmation of whether or not something is okay.

If you needed to talk to a co-worker urgently but he was in the middle of discussing something with someone else, you might say:

(すみません、)ちょっといいですか?

On the other hand, if in the same situation, your co-worker sees you approach, tells the other person to hold on, and then turns to face you, you might say:

あっ、いいんですか?

Your asking of whether it's okay or not isn't coming out of nowhere. You're reacting to your co-worker's non-verbal invitation and making sure that what he means by that is that it's okay to interrupt their conversation.

This is often glossed in textbooks as something like "Is it that...? (with "it" referring to the situation, or what you're seeing) but this isn't something we say in natural English.

I've found it's easier to think of ~ん (or ~の)-inflected questions as "statement questions" with rising intonation.

"Are you going to the party?" and "Is it okay?" are simple, unmarked questions. On the other hand, "You're going to the party?" and "It's okay?" (or "It's cool?" or whatever) suggest that something in the larger context has already led you to believe that.

Asking ~いいんですか? when there's no real larger context can sound oddly presumptuous. (e.g. you wouldn't just raise your hand in class and ask the teacher お手洗いに行ってもいいんですか?) On the other hand, leaving out the ん/の and just asking いいですか? when there's clearly something being referred to could come off as stilted or oddly detached from the situation at hand.

It's a subtle point, and probably won't inhibit understanding most of the time, but it's one of those things that will make your Japanese sound a lot more natural if you can master it.

Hope this helps!
 

Buntaro

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Hi Zizka,

I want to add that this final の is often used at the end of sentences in conversational Japanese. For example

まだ決まってないの。
I haven’t decided yet.
 

bentenmusume

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Hi Zizka,

I want to add that this final の is often used at the end of sentences in conversational Japanese. For example

まだ決まってないの。
I haven’t decided yet.
Two things about this:

1. Sentence-final の in declarative statements is characteristic of feminine informal speech. The masculine informal equivalent would be まだ決まってないんだ。(Note that this does not really apply to informal questions: 行かないの?, etc. is not markedly feminine, though 行かないのか? is also possible)

2. の still has the contextual nuance described in my post above. It's not simply something that appears in conversational Japanese and can added or dropped with no appreciable change in nuance.
 

Zizka

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So I just saw another sentence with a final が and I like with the first sentence I don’t know what the purpose if that final particle is.

「五万円だったら買うんです
「これを一緒に運んで欲しいんです
In both cases it’d used with the ん we talked about in this thread. Is it a coincidence? I’ve read each reply again to see any mention of the final が but can’t find any.
 

bentenmusume

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Sentence-final が is a contrastive conjunctive particle ("but", "however") similar to けど, but more formal/written-style.


(I would imagine there is almost certainly an entry for it in the DBJG, but I don't have a copy in front of me, so I might be wrong.)

Some additional points:

- It can also be use to "soften" an expression or to lead into another statement, even in cases where we probably wouldn't explicitly say "but" in English. Also, the actual following statement is often omitted entirely when it's clear from context what it would be. (e.g. ちょっと聞きたいんですが, "I'd like to ask you a question...[but would that be okay?], 東京駅に行きたいんですが、"I'd like to go to Tokyo Station...[but can you tell me how to get there?] etc.)

- No, it's not entirely a coincidence that you're seeing it with the contextual ん, as statements with the nuance that the contextual ん provides often lend themselves to setting up an expression to follow (like the examples in the parenthetical above). That said, neither が/けど nor the contextual の/ん specifically require the other to be present in terms of grammar, meaning, or otherwise.
 
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