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I don't understand the role of "な" when used before "のに" as in these two sentences (with given translations):

朝目がさめて初めて、外が雪のに気がついた。

He noticed that there was snow outside only after he woke up in the morning.

せっかくの日曜日のに働いた。

Although Sunday is precious (to me), I worked (all day long).

I'm similarly confused by the なので pattern, but I assume the principle is the same there. My best guesses so far are that:

  1. There's some relation to な-adjectives, but I don't see how 雪 or 日曜日 would be acting as adjectives here.
  2. The な has essentially the same role as だ (i.e. a "copula"?), but you can't use だ in the middle of a sentence like that.
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You are on the right track. is a formal noun with a general meaning such as the case, the fact, or the situation. The sequence ...な is an appositive clause modifying the formal noun .

彼は学生だ
'He is a student.'

[彼は学生な]のだ
'It is the case [that he is a student].'
The appositive clause 彼は学生な 'that he is a student' modifies the formal noun 'the case'.

As you suspect, is the form of copula that is used exclusively when it is used in a clause that modifies a noun (i.e., relative clause or appositive clause).

彼は静かだ
'He is quiet.'

[静かな]人
'person [who is quiet]' (relative clause with na-adjective as a predicate)

Na-adjectives are actually very close to nouns, and depending on the theoretical framework, they can be actually considered a subclass of noun. You can usually observe this form used together with na-adjevtives, but with nouns, you don't usually see it except for a number of fixed expressions like the one you see here because with nouns, you have the option of using the genitive case particle , and that is preferred.

彼は学生だ
'He is a student.'

× [学生な]人
'person [who is a student]' (relative clause with a noun as a predicate; usually considered ungrammatical to use )

学生の人
(Uses genitive case particle)

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First, the two のに are completely different.

外が雪なのに気がついた。

そとが+雪+な+の+に気づく

の is used to make a noun of the preceding proposition, so as to make the proposition the object of 気づく (object indicated by に).
But then, a proposition cannot end with a noun, it must end with a verb, and 雪 is not a verb. The proposition is in fact そとが雪だ。 And when you put だ in determinant form (so that it determines の) you turn it into な. That's it.
To realise [the fact that [outside is snow]]

日曜日なのに働いた。

This is a "grief" のに, and also goes with a proposition, not a noun. Your proposition is 日曜日だ. You turn だ into な, and you can now stick のに behind it.

So, your point 1 is wrong.
Your point 2 is right, and turning だ into な is a solution.

なので will work similarly, and be like the second example (since ので and the second のに are single grammatical particles).

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That would explain why I had been somewhat confused in general by the first sentence. It makes much more sense when you split up the の and the に like that. I guess I didn't realize there was a non-grief のに. –  Shane Oct 13 '11 at 18:35
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