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Consider the following sentence:

その薬は去年期限切れだったので、捨てました。

I'm trying to explain what the bolded の does in the above sentence.

This is what I came up with:

の is used as a back referral

The sentence would look like this :

その薬は去年期限切れ(薬)だったので、捨てました。

But because 薬 can be understood from context, it is left out in the same sentence.

When I looked up 期限切れ in the dictionary*, it is listed as (Nouns which may take the genitive case prt. 'no') I'm not sure what it means exactly so...

(Question): Is there something I need to understand differently because of this dictionary categorisation? How are "Nouns which may take the genitive case prt. 'no'" different from just nouns?

Would 日本語 in 日本語の先生 also be a "noun which may take the genitive case prt. 'no'"? Because so far many nouns are able to take の, and I dont understand the separate category for it.

EDIT: I think this was what I meant to ask - did the in question come from elision or does it have something to do with 期限切れ being a no-adj ?

(Just looked it up in other dictionaries**, it's labelled as no-adj)

*taken from JMDict

**checked against WWWJDIC and japanese.nciku.com

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your question is not really clear… Are you asking about "の" or "期限切れ"?

の is used as a back referral

Actually, it's a simple elision..

誰のペンですか? 私の(ペン)です。
Whose pen is it? it is mine

何のタイアですか? 車の(タイヤ)だ。
Of what kind of vehicle is this tire? It's a car's one.

As far as "の for an adjective" goes, a famous example would be "色々" which can go with の as well as な, to mean "various", but I'm not sure either how this feat goes along the hint of your dictionary, if it's ever related.

EDIT: I think this was what I meant to ask - did the の in question come from elision or does it have something to do with 期限切れ being a no-adj ?

Edit: Well, then both, probably :)
Because 時間切れ works with a の, we could drop the word 薬 afterwards. If we were considering a word without の, like "静か", we would have to use a palliative の instead:
その公園は去年静かなのだったので、寂しい。 (I'm sad because this park was a quiet one last year (and isn't any more)).

Edit2: on の-adj.

There are some nouns that have a different function when used の. Consider the nouns "普通" and "日本語". You say 普通の先生 and 日本語の先生, but while it is a "teacher of Japanese" it is not a "teacher of normality". It's also not a "teacher from the Japanese language" but it's an "average teacher". You are not working with a genitive here, but you are really making an adjective that modifies the following group.

As for why some adjectives work with の and others with な, I have no idea.

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I'm not sure what exactly I should be asking. Thinking it over I should have asked if the の in question came from elision or if it had something to do with 期限切れ being a の-adj (Just looked it up in other dictionaries, it's labelled as の-adj) –  Flaw Aug 2 '11 at 9:39
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静かなのだったので isn't quite the same as the の your first examples. The の in 名詞文 ("A is equivalent to B") elides the repeated noun, as you noted, but it doesn't have this function in 形容詞文 ("A has the quality B"). 静かなのだった therefore falls under the ~のだ pattern, and since adding a further ので to this would be redundant, 静かだったので is better. –  Derek Schaab Aug 2 '11 at 12:24
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@Derek: no, I really meant a "palliative の", and I mentioned it's a different one from the "elision の". Moreover, since it's a palliative の, it's not the の of ので, it's one as in "静かなのが好き" (I like the calm ones). I maintain my position :) –  Axioplase Aug 3 '11 at 1:26
    
OK, I guess I just misinterpreted you along the way somewhere. 静かなのが好き sounds good, but I still feel uncomfortable with 静かなのだったので. I can't explain exactly why. Let me think about it some more. –  Derek Schaab Aug 3 '11 at 12:45
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Are no-adjs even a real thing in Japan? Any noun can modify another noun once no is appended, and this modification may be rendered with an adjective in a different language (eg 日本の文化 -> Japanese culture). It seems to me that 期限切れ is no different in this regard. They could have translated it as "the condition of being past the expiration date", and let the reader infer that 期限切れの means "expired", but since the typical use is attributive anyway, they decided to make things simpler for themselves and for foreign learners by translating 期限切れ[の] directly as "expired".

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"Any noun can modify another noun once no is appended" This is why I don't understand the dictionary's distinction between nouns and no-adjectives. –  Flaw Aug 2 '11 at 14:38
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