I am puzzled by the word ordering in the following sentence:


This sounds unnatural to me, though I was told that this is correct by a native speaker (who was not able to explain why). Whenever I've encountered this linking/nominalization/possessive particle before, the nouns were ordered with increasing specificity. (e.g. 友達の本の名前).

Based on that principle, I would have expected the sentence to read



  1. most general: 箱 (box(es)),
  2. more specific 箱のうち (amongst the boxes)
  3. most specific: 箱のうちの一つ (one of the boxes)

What am I missing?

  • A hotel guest says this to the staff in front of a big heap of luggage. Jun 14 '14 at 16:34

If I'm not mistaken, I think there are two acceptable ways to say this in English, too:

One box among those is mine. (more literally) Among those, one box is mine.

One of those boxes is mine.

It's true the former looks slightly less-organized, but the nuance is fairly small in spoken language.


Personally, my interpretation of "そのうち" in this case would be "among those things". Hence, it's referring to a collection of non-descript items that also happens to include a box among them.

  • I agree and would not have found this sentence awkward if it read そのうちの箱。 But it seems strange to single out "one non-descript item" (そのうちの一つ) and then make it specific by saying that it's a box. Jun 14 '14 at 16:25
  • In that regard, it's not uncommon to use a relatively generic counter (especially if there isn't a particularly specific one for it) and then clarify what it is (cf. 七人【しちにん】の侍【さむらい】).
    – Kaji
    Jun 14 '14 at 16:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.