904 - なんか

JLPT N3: なんか (something like, someone like)

なんか is a super common and useful word, so you might have heard it before.

At the beginning of a sentence, it functions like an "Umm..." to give you time to put your thoughts into words.

Sometimes, we'll just translate it as "kinda," "sorta," "somewhat," etc.

For example, we saw this sentence in the Bunkai Beast lesson on the versatility of nouns:

なんかおしゃれだね。
なんか おしゃれ だ ね。
You look kind of fancy today. // You’re kind of dressed up today, huh?
Literally: "sorta + stylish + だ + ね."


Sometimes, it's just a なにか that's slurred together in casual speech.

Other times, it's interchangeable with など. If you're not sure how to use など, or need a refresher, you might wanna read our previous N3 lesson.

The なんか we're looking at in this lesson is used the same way as など in the link above, only in informal speech. It shows you don't think much of, or really dislike, something. 

You should note that this なんか is completely interchangeable with なんて.

And, just like the previously mentioned など, it follows a NOUN.
 
For example:

あの女の言う事なんか、信じないほうがいいよ。
あの おんな の いう こと なんか、 しんじない ほう が いい よ。
I wouldn’t believe a word that woman says if I were you.
Literally: “that + woman + の + say + thing + なんか, + shouldn’t believe (=don’t believe + way + が + good) + よ.”


謝罪なんてするものか。あいつが俺に謝るべきだ。
しゃざい なんて する ものか。 あいつ が おれ に あやまる べき だ。
As if I’m just going to bend over and apologize. He’s the one who should say sorry to me.
Literally: “apology + なんて + do + thing + か. + that guy + が + I ([=masculine]) + に + apologize + should + だ.”


Thrown off by that ものか? Don't worry – it's actually an N2 grammar point! We'll get to it eventually, but in the meantime here's a quick explanation: ものか is an emotive rhetorical question that shows the speaker strongly denies something. For example, in the above sentence, it emphasizes that the speaker strongly believes there is absolutely no reason why they should apologize. I like to think of ものか as an "As if!"

 

Sometimes, you'll see a particle slipped between the noun and なんか/なんて. Here's an example of how to use them with :

気球なんて絶対乗りたくない。
ききゅう に なんて ぜったい のりたくない。
There’s no way in hell I’d ever get in a hot-air balloon.
Literally: “hot-air balloon + に + なんて + absolutely + don’t want to ride.”

 

Going back to similarities with などなんか can also be used to "lower yourself" in regards to the person you're speaking to, therefore showing humility and politeness. You can think of this as a kind of "I am not worthy and I am grateful" type deal.

For example:

なんかのために来てくれて、本当にありがとう。
わたし なんか の ため に きて くれて、 ほんとう に ありがとう。
Thank you so much for coming all the way here just for me.
Literally: “I + なんか + の + sake / benefit + に + come (and) + give (me) (and), + truly / really + thank you.”

 

Wahey, you got through another lesson!

お疲れさま!