When the か particle serves as a parallel/disjunctive marker (A or B = AかBか), is there a strict requirement that it must follow each noun? Or when joining more than two items, should they be replaced by a comma?

That is, for "A, B, or C" would one use "AかBかCか", or – as I've seen happen with や – is it considered better to simply use a comma "A, B, Cか..." (or would it be "Aか, B, C..."?).

As a related issue, the answer here mentions that when か is then followed by certain particles such as "は, が, に, を" it seems to be OK (or even necessary) to drop one of the particles. Quoting the example here:

誕生日はお母さんかお父さんかがケーキを作ってくれる。 (x)

誕生日はお母さんかお父さんがケーキを作ってくれる。 (o)

誕生日はお母さんかお父さんかケーキを作ってくれる。 (o)

Is this purely an artifact of casual speech like other particle dropping, or is it actually necessary to sound correct even in formal speech? And for which particles is this necessary? In particular, when using parallel な-adjectives instead of nouns, which of these would be preferred:

有名か豊かな人 (o/x ?)

有名か豊かかな人 (o/x ?)

  • It might be clearer to compare 有名か裕福な人 vs 有名か裕福かな人 than 有名か豊か(か). Commented Mar 12 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


As a factual answer, na-adjectives connected with か generally do not sound right in attributive usage. Both 有名か豊かな人 and 有名か豊かかな人 do not sound right to me although I believe grammatically both are okay.

For an ok example, cosider:

  • 小さいころからピアノを習わせるというのは、親が熱心か裕福かどちらかだ

Here it can be 熱心か裕福かだ, but 熱心か裕福だ is less natural/unnatural.

On the other hand, when making an similar attributive usage from the above:

  • 親が熱心か裕福な人 (someone whose parents are eager or rich)

is natural (2nd か dropped) and 親が熱心か裕福な人 is odd.

Likewise, of the two in the question, 有名か豊かな人 is the better one, but I don't think it is idiomatic. People just say 有名人か金持ち. Generally, XかYなN is avoided and XなNかYなN would be more easily natural.


  • 誕生日はお母さんかお父さんがケーキを作ってくれる。

should be grammatically fine. Even if it is less frequent, it is acceptable to me.

  • Thank you! Does とか also follow the same usage guideline?
    – 1110101001
    Commented Mar 15 at 21:09
  • E.g. is 熱心とか裕福な人 better than 熱心とか裕福とかな人 for the same reasons?
    – 1110101001
    Commented Mar 23 at 23:05
  • 1
    @1110101001 Basically yes (as for the comparison between those two). But, 熱心な人とか裕福な人 would be even better.
    – sundowner
    Commented Mar 24 at 0:14

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