Is there anymore to the usage of なんか that isn't saying "something", but rather something like, or along the lines of? I know the two are very similar, but using なんか at the end of a sentence seems to be very clear syntactically, while using it to modify a noun seems weird, especially given the か at the end- further kanji isn't generally used, I don't think. So is there more to it? Is there a more formal way of saying it that would make sense syntactically?

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    Compare など and なんて. – snailcar May 31 '14 at 11:38
  • The comparison just makes me more confused, where do those come from? – user3457 May 31 '14 at 21:05
  • Could you give an example or two so we can make sure which なんか you're talking about? – snailcar Jun 3 '14 at 9:32
  • I forget what exactly my friend said- it was なんか followed by a noun. She was trying to say "Something like a-". There is more than one なんか? – user3457 Jun 3 '14 at 18:29
  • Are you sure it was なんか followed by a noun and not preceded by a noun? – l'électeur Sep 4 '14 at 5:30

My answer will be based on the assumption that OP is talking about when 「なんか」 is indeed followed, not preceded, by a noun as s/he so states in the comments (but not in the question).

In informal conversation, there actually exists such a structure.

"なんか + Noun + みたいな(のような) + Noun"

For instance, I have little appetite when I have a fever. Since I do not want to eat a regular meal, I would say to someone:


"Could you go get some jello or yogurt type of things for me?"

In this sentence, your TL "along the lines of" is spot-on. Note that in this case, 「なんか」 can be replaced by 「なにか」.


Just in case, I will briefly talk about when 「なんか」 is preceded by a noun. There are two main usages of this structure.

1) Citing an instance.

A: どこか[暖]{あたた}かいところに行きたいなあ。"I'd love to go someplace warm."

B: 暖かいところ?サイパンなんかどう? "Someplace warm? How about Saipan?"

2) Making light of something.

「[愛]{あい}なんかいらない![金]{かね}が[欲]{ほ}しい!」 "I don't want love! I want money!"

Note that when 「なんか」 is preceded by a noun, it cannot be replaced by 「なにか」.

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  • l'électeurさん, Is なんか in 2) used only with negative constructions? If affirmative is possible, could you provide an example? – user1602 Jan 7 at 4:41

It can be used in front of adjectives to convey the sense of "somewhat" (e.g. なんか強い = "somewhat strong"). Is that close to what you're getting at?

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  • 1
    I know the use- I just don't know where it come from. I suppose the syntax label might have been misleading... – user3457 Jun 1 '14 at 19:35

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