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Adjectival nouns attaching directly to nouns


8 May 2017
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Hi all, I've noticed that a number of -na adjectives (and some -no adjectives as well) sometimes attach directly to a noun without any particles. I get the impression that sometimes this happens because the adjective and the noun form a fixed combination that could almost be considered a separate entry in a dictionary (for example 天然資源 or 知的好奇心).

In other cases though it just seems random to me. For example 日本の主要都市 is, according to Google, much more frequent than 日本の主要な都市. Are there general guidelines for such cases?


12 Oct 2004
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Honestly, there's really not much of a difference between 主要都市 and the other examples that you cite. It's close enough to a single concept/unit that it's possible (or even common) to elide the な. There's really no universal rule or guideline you can expect to find here. It's just something you'll have to internalize with exposure to various compounds like this.

It might also be worth pointing out that it's more likely to omit the な in this particular case because you already have 日本の~, and stringing together multiple connecting な's and の's can get unwieldy. If 日本の~ wasn't present, and you just had a sentence beginning with 主要な都市では~ or whatnot, it may be less common to omit the な. Still, there are no hard-and-fast, etched-in-stone, 100%/0% rules governing this.

(edited to add second paragraph)
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