なん + (X)... なに?!?

Hello.

勉強するなんて好きですけど「なんて」という事はどうですか?

I have found myself identifying a lot of なん + ‘X’ words while practicing reading. Any tips on learning the difference between all of these words? Perhaps we could use this topic as a means to document all of these words and their meanings.

Here are the ones I have identified so far (not certain on all definitions):

なんて - emphasizer appended to nouns / verbs.
なんですか (なんだか) - What?
なんか (何か) - something / anything
なんで - why (and sometimes how?)
なんだ - probably just a な adjective directly preceding a んだ (contraction of のだ)
なんでもない - nothing?
なん + counter - for/how many + counter (ex. なんにち)

Again, any tips for distinguishing these words would be much appreciated!

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Or a noun.

なにか means something. なんか is more of a word you put in to downplay whatever you’re saying.

何ですか in kanji. Also usually you don’t put か after だ. Not sure if it’s absolutely not allowed, but I never hear it. なんだ? means ‘what is it?’

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Most of these are just contractions of なに. It changes to ん in many cases where something immediately comes after it. A “raw” なに? like the memes is one of the few situations where it isn’t shortened to なん.

Some clarifications I guess:
なんて means “things such as”, and it often has negative connotations. Such as そんなことするなんて… “to think you’d do such a (terrible) thing…”
なんです、なんか are all just contractions of なに + some other grammatical phrase. No special meaning.
なんでもない means “not anything” literally. なんでも is なに + でも
なんだ is typically a contraction of なのだ, yes.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen なんで to mean “how”, where did you get that from?

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They use this in Minna no Nihongo in one of the earlier chapters instead of the more common どうやって. One of its few flaws. I haven’t heard it used like thst in other contexts, I don’t think.

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Both of those mean “why” though, at least in all the cases I can think of… usually to say “how” they’d use どう or どうやって or something like that, no?

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That’s what I meant, yes. I will be fine doing N1 in a couple months.

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Oh, good luck! I was a bit confused at first. Was trying to think of any way that どうして could be translated to “how” in some situation. :sweat_smile:

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Maybe as どうしても… however you do it…

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Right… I do know that it literally means like “how do?”, but I think どうして by itself typically is asking why and not how. There’s also like どうしたら which means “how can/could (one do something)”.

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Though なにか can be contracted to なんか, no?

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Yes, but I wouldn’t in most contexts. Only in casual speech. Since it can come off as rude, for above mentioned reason.

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Yeah, I should have added that was mostly the context of my question. For example this sentence from a manga:

ん‥‥なんかくさくねえか?

I would expect that would be the contracted なにか since the other なんか is mostly used as a suffix, right?

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Oh yes, I agree there!

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Cool. Just confirming my understanding. Thanks!

It can mean “how” in the sense of “by what means”?

There are indeed other ways to say how, but なんで is one of them.

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