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I've come across this sentence in my manga.

そ そうか そういう疑いを持っているのか

It's actually fairly easy, but the particle at the end has confused me. I thought it was the two particles and , but then I saw this in a dictionary:

のか - Particle - endorsing and questioning the preceding statement (sentence ending particle); lamenting reflections on the preceding statement (sentence ending particle)

That seems to fit, because it's at the end of the sentence, and he's commenting on what another character said to themselves. But beyond that, I have little idea of what this means. Is it actually a question particle similar to か? When would you use this instead?

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1  
I prefer to think of it as gerund-の and question-か. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 12 '11 at 3:02
    
@IgnacioVazquez-Abrams: Yeah, I got the impression a lot of people like that way, but I can't decide for myself until I actually understand what this way means. –  AlbeyAmakiir Oct 12 '11 at 3:32
    
@IgnacioVazquez-Abrams: Well, it seems I misunderstood what you meant anyway. I assumed "gerund" was a fancy grammar term for whatever grammar concept "of" is. I never remember what the terms are. –  AlbeyAmakiir Oct 12 '11 at 5:18
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You turn the verb into a noun, then ponder it. "To be or not to be, that is the question." –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 12 '11 at 5:31
    
What of is is the genitive case particle. It is totally different from gerunds. –  user458 Oct 12 '11 at 6:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is called a formal noun, and has a very general meaning that can be translated to English as 'the case', 'the fact', or 'the situation', and it heads an appositive clause. It is the same used in the のだ consruction. It typically implies that the appositive clause is an explanation to the previous context. It has pretty much similar implications that the English the case that ... implies.

...
'It is the case that ... .'

... で ...
'Things being the case that ... , ... .'

...
'Is it the case that ... ?'

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So there's more than one の particle? The one more-or-less meaning "of" and this one (or is a formal noun not a particle? I've never been one to remember the names for grammar concepts)? That means I misunderstood why people preferred to think of it as the two separate pieces. –  AlbeyAmakiir Oct 12 '11 at 5:15
    
There are at least 5 の particles. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 12 '11 at 5:30
    
@AlbeyAmakiir As the name suggests, a formal noun is a noun, not a particle. There may be a possibility that it is a sentence final particle, but clearly not the kind of particles that are attached to a noun phrase. –  user458 Oct 12 '11 at 6:38

sawa's answer explains the の, but I feel のか as used in the question hasn't been fully explained.

It doesn't correspond well in this situation to "is it the case that...?", because that is a question that demands an answer. This particular use of のか doesn't. I doubt it would be said with a questioning tone.

"So you have that/those kind(s) of doubt(s)/suspicion(s)/question(s) (about it), huh."

I believe this is sense 二[7] of か in Daijisen:

7 引用した句の意味やある事実を確かめ、自分自身に言い聞かせる意を表す。「急がば回れ―」「そろそろ寝るとする―」

and sense 四[9] of か in Daijirin:

⑨ 独り合点の気持ちを表す。詠嘆・回想の気持ちが強い。
「『春はあけぼの』か、いい文句だな」
「そうか、失敗だったのか」

The word "ponder", which Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams used in a comment to the original question, seems to fit quite well as a description of what this か is doing.

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It is syntactically a question, but it can used as a rethorical question, just like the question What am I doing? is used to express an exclamation. –  user458 Oct 13 '11 at 3:40

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