な-adjectives: dropping the な?

When using な adjectives, when does it make sense to drop the -な?

I’m a beginner in Japanese grammar and this has been something I’m struggling to understand. The question came up again for me recently when learning a new word in my lessons, 高級 (high class). These two examples are listed on the Context page:

  • 高級なホテル (a high class hotel)
  • 高級ホテル (high class hotel)

When would you use the former vs the latter?

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You always have to have the な if it’s before a noun. However 高級ホテル has likely become a word of its own due to high frequency. When phrases are frequent enough, little things like な tend to be dropped, so I assume that’s what happened here (disclaimer that I don’t actually know the history of this specific word).

Something that might be helpful to know is that な adjectives are actually nouns (な = だ), so 高級ホテル would be a compound noun. You can’t just do that with any な adjective and noun though. The pairing must be common enough to become a compound. So unless you know otherwise, I’d just put な in :slight_smile:

As for when to use 高級なホテル vs 高級ホテル… I have no idea sorry

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The first is an adjective describing a noun, and the second is a compound noun. It’s like 青い空 vs 青空. Both mean the same thing, “blue sky,” but with a slight difference in nuance: with the compound noun, the blueness feels more intrinsic. (It’s the same, I think, with な vs の with the な-adj. that can also take の; the の gives it a closer, more intrinsic, inseparable feel.) At least, that’s my impression.

I still don’t exactly know when you’d use one vs the other, though

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Here I would say 高級 is used as a prefix. Similar like in 高級軍人, 高級品 and a ton of other words. It’s similar to saying “high class X” in English. 高級 is also a noun which may or not take の as a linker, so perhaps that would explain it.

I would say the nuance is different. 高級ホテル is a class of a hotel, 高級なホテル would mean that one specific hotel is of high class. Ironically, the given examples

Kind of sort of point to that, but the difference in English is almost non-existent.

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That’s just the Japanese avenging the rest of us who had to learn English as a 2nd language and figure out when you decided to use “'s”, “of”, a space or nothing at all.

  • Warlord

  • Gulf war

  • Wars of the Roses

  • Russia’s war against Ukraine

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Backyard and front yard are fun too

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When in doubt use the な. Better to over than under な. Lol. Language isn’t an exact science. There are lots of times I say something exactly correct and my friends still question me. So this な/no な, isn’t going to make or break your communication.

But interesting question I’ve found the answers interesting.

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