Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We can use as a substitute in successive sentences for something we've already mentioned so that we don't need to keep saying what it is:

  • どのTシャツが好き? → 赤いが好き。

Then there is the possessive/associative の:

  • 家の屋根、空の鳥、etc.

I was telling my friend about a new wallet I bought. By implication (or obviousness), it means the wallet I had before is now the "old wallet". So I wanted to talk about the contents of the old wallet. Can I use these two s consecutively to describe them, like:

  • 古いの の 中身

Is this grammatical? Used? Or would it be better to just say 古い{財布・もの・やつ}の中身?

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The first の is the pronoun の.
The second の is the genitive の.

There are two possible sequences of these two のs:

  1. genitive + pronoun:  この本は花子のだ。 "This book is Hanako's."

  2. pronoun + genitive:  赤いのの表紙 "the cover of the red one"

In the former, the sequence of two のs is ungrammatical; you have to delete one of them.
In the latter, the sequence of two のs is okay.

(Examples adapted from a draft version of Hiraiwa's Constraining Doubling, although there are a number of publications on this subject--see the references section of the linked paper for further discussion.)

share|improve this answer
Can you say この本は花子のんだ though? – user54609 Jan 18 '14 at 2:20
Hiraiwa says some speakers use んの or のん, in which case deletion doesn't occur. I take this to mean that you should avoid the のん version in standard Japanese, though the paper doesn't say so explicitly. – snailplane Jan 18 '14 at 2:24
~のん sounds childlike to me. (幼稚園児か、小学校低学年くらいの・・・でも、近年はあまり聞かない気がする・・・古い言い方なのかも) – user1016 Jan 24 '14 at 6:37
@Chocolate ええこと言わはるわ。むっちゃ懐かしい響きや。確かに最近聞かへんな。 – l'électeur Jan 24 '14 at 8:38
@TokyoNagoyaさんは東京と名古屋火傷、関西弁なん? – istrasci Jan 24 '14 at 15:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.