I read about the grammar of のは in the text and wanted to clarify something here. This can be used to express 2 different meanings: The reason for [A] is [B]. Doing [A] is [B]. With the first meaning, I understood everything perfectly. But about the second one - there were strange examples that sound unnatural (or am I wrong?)

  1. 私が生まれたのは北海道の小さな村です。- I understand what is meant here, but it’s not more logical to say 私が生まれた所は北海道の小さな村です? 
  2. このメンバーの中に独身なのは田中さんだけです。As I understand it, it can’t be replaced with は? It’s like the literal meaning of A is B, that’s all. Here, for example, 必要なのはインターネットと コンピュータだけです. Or we can still replace it with は?  It seems, I still don’t understand the difference between は and のは after nouns.
  • " It seems, I still don’t understand the difference between は and のは after nouns." I don't understand why you describe the problem this way, because in the examples you give of using のは, it doesn't come after a noun. Commented May 26 at 8:00

1 Answer 1


のは is not a particle. It is の+は; a nominalizer plus the particle は.

I'm not sure there is any logic to saying either

  • 私が生まれたのは北海道の小さな村です
  • 私が生まれた所は北海道の小さな村です.

But the former sounds simpler. In English we can say, "Where I was born is a small town in Hokkaido" or "The place I was born is a small town in Hokkaido". I wouldn't say one is more logical than the other. They both express the same idea.

In either

  • 私が生まれたのは北海道の小さな村です
  • このメンバーの中で独身なのは田中さんだけです

の is nominalizing 生まれた. 独身 is already a noun (I'll say more about this below). So, you cannot drop の in this case. は as a topic marker must follow a noun, it cannot follow a verb or an adjective. の provides the noun or better said の nominalizes the phrase so it can be used much like a noun would be used.

I'm not sure what you're saying about 必要なのはインターネットと コンピュータだけです. This is exactly the same construction.

The following would be ungrammatical

  • 私が生まれたは北海道の小さな村です
  • 必要はインターネットと コンピュータだけです

There are other ways of expressing these ideas a bit clumsily as follows:

  • 私が生まれたは北海道の小さな村です or
  • このメンバーの中で独身のメンバーは田中さんだけです
  • 必要なものはインターネットと コンピュータだけです

Perhaps the last one isn't particularly clumsy, but the first two are (perfectly understandable, but repeating the same word twice so close to each other just sounds odd).

But my point in these three examples here isn't the clumsy nature so much as the fact that some stand-in for a noun is needed. の accomplishes the job and nicely avoids the clumsiness.

In the case of 独身, which is already a noun, something similar but nevertheless a bit different is going on here. 独身 is already a noun. 独身なの would translate as "the one who is single" (Thank you @chocolate for pointing out that 独身 is a noun and not an adjective.)

In none of these sentences is の expressing the idea of a reason for something else. You are perhaps thinking of the explanatory の, but that's not what is happening in any of these examples you've given here.

You might use the explanatory の in a circumstance in which you need to explain why you didn't show up for work:


But these explanatory の's are rarely translated into English since in English we don't have a similar construct.

  • I see, thanks! in this context, when の acts as a transformation of a phrase into a noun. can I replace it with こと or ということ? 私が生まれたということは北海道の小さな村です or このメンバーの中に独身だということは田中さんだけです Commented May 25 at 20:05
  • 1
    @DmitriiHude I would say sometimes. But in these examples, こと would not sound right. こと is more for an abstract idea. Where you were born or a particular member of a group, these are not abstractions; こと wouldn't work well with these examples. For example, if you said 生まれたこと, sounds like you might then opine upon the nature of being born or the significance of your birth; you wouldn't be talking about where you were born or your mother etc.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented May 25 at 20:08
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    このメンバーの中に独身なメンバーは田中さんだけです -- 「このメンバーの中独身メンバーは…」って言うと思うんですがどうでしょう。「[グループ]の中 ~~なのは…」「この中 ~~なのは…」って言うとき「に」は使わないと思うのと、「独身なのは」「リンゴなのは」「[名詞]なのは・なのだ・なのでetc.」はいいですが、「独身」は形容動詞じゃないので「独身なメンバー」じゃなくて「独身のメンバー」っていうと思うんです。
    – chocolate
    Commented May 26 at 6:53
  • @A.Ellett so when we use it after nouns Its like 'as for the thing that...' ? for example - 問題は。。。 - 'the problem is..' and 問題なのは is like 'as for the thing that problem...' - thats the difference? and i actually didt get this part: '[グループ]の中で ~~なのは…」「この中で ~~なのは…」って言うとき「に」は使わないと思うのと' - we cant use it, why? Commented May 29 at 16:18

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