Question about こと and もの

this has been driving me a little crazy, and maybe someone here can help?

I often see こと and もの pop up in weird places. I think I understand what they mean when reading/listening but I wouldn’t now when to use them in speaking/writing.

I came across an example in a book I was reading that makes it clearer then I could explain.

前の飼い主の小林さんのことを思い出してるのかなと思う。
for context: a dog (Chris) misses his old owner (小林さん)

why is 小林さん used to modify こと here (why not exclude the こと)?
Is it saying something closer to Chris remembered things about 小林さん (like how he looked or his habits) as apposed to 小林さん himself.

as a bonus question I see (の)かな pop up at the end of sentences a lot but can’t find a definition for it that makes sense. what does it mean?

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か - question marker.
な - talking to myself marker.
かな - question I am asking myself.

(E&OE)

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That makes perfect sense. thanks a bunch for clearing that up

And I knew I’d seen an explanation about のこと somewhere:

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That’s an excellent link. makes perfect sense thanks a ton for your help.

It always bugs me when there’s little intricacies that I can tell are flying over my head so this is a weight off my shoulders

(の)かな is hard to translate into an exact English phrase. It’s used to express nuances like “I wonder if…”, but when speaking to someone it can also have the added nuance of asking the other person’s opinion as well.

Like in your case, “I wonder if the dog misses his previous owner, what do you think?” would be the nuance going on.

It’s like you’re making a guess about something and wondering if it’s true, but also looking for confirmation about it at the same time.

In Japanese it’s considered fairly direct to talk about someone else… well directly, so when you see or hear (person)のこと, it’s essentially just a way to soften the sentence. I guess you can think of it as “about (person)”. Literally 小林さんのことを思い出す means something like “remembering things about kobayashi-san” but the meaning is more or less the same as if you dropped the こと. It’s just to make it more polite or kind towards that person essentially.

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It feels pretty similar to English to me. If you ask yourself a question out loud in the presence of other people, the same nuance is there.

At least, if I ask myself out loud “I wonder who left this glass of water on the stairs?” one of my children is likely to point at the other :smiley:

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誰かのこと means things about said person. “the way they look, talk, etc”, and it is indirect this way.
For the かな thing, か is doing its normal job but な is used to talk to oneself. It can also be used informally by males as a more “pushy” version of ね

This is a decent write up about かな sentence ending: