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The question in the title is just one of the various ones that I don't quite get. They all use the phrase

such and such+ 顔になった + sentence ending particles

Literally it sounds weird to me but the general idea I get from the phrase is that it can used to comment on someone's growth e.g. 男の顔になったな could be what something a father says to his son when he's seen that he has grown up. Anyway, anyone care to explain this?

Thanks.

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「[男]{おとこ}の[顔]{かお}になったな。」 could mean two very different things.

1. "You/Someone now look(s) like a full-fledged adult."

This is the meaning for which the phrase would be used more often than the other I shall explain below. It is a well-intended compliment and the speaker has been waiting for this to happen -- most likely for years.

Even though the word 「顔」 is used, it does not mean that only the person's face has changed. It includes how he acts, speaks, etc. It is talking about his whole person that has grown to reach the level where he could be called an adult.

One thing that I feel is important to mention as a Japanese-speaker is that unlike what you said in your question, this phrase is not really something a father would say to his son. It would be more like what an uncle would say to his nephew, a male family friend to the son of that family, etc. There might be exceptions where a father might say it to his son, but it would be rare in Japanese culture if not in yours.

2. "You/Someone now look(s) like a hungry wolf."

This implies that even though someone was looking like a nice husband/father/whatever-his-profession-is only 30 minutes ago, but now that he is out on the street at night only after one thing. "Two faces of a man" is what one is talking about.

  • The only reason I gave the example that a father would say it to his son because I remember in something that I was reading the father who ran a mercenary group said that to his son a while after he had joined them(before that they hadn't met for years). I didn't mean to imply that this is something that would be commonly said. – bobbinonzeocean Dec 26 '14 at 16:48
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男の顔になったな

It's like saying

成長{せいちょう}したな〜

  • Boy, you've come a long way.
  • Boy, how you've grown!

So, you are right, it's a comment on someone's growth.

It's relevant from the point of view of an adult looking at a young boy's growth over a period of time. I guess a father could say that to his son, but I imagine something more along the lines of a company president / boss saying that to a junior employee that has flourished / made noteworthy progress in the company.

Rather awkward longer version:

少年{しょうねん}の顔{かお}から成熟{せいじゅく}した大人{おとな}の男{おとこ}の顔{かお}になった。

  • You went from a young boy's face to a mature adult's face!

Other Patterns

仕事{しごと}の顔{かお}になった。

To become serious when one is going to start working.

少女{しょうじょ}の顔{かお}になった。

Like a girl who has finished work and meets her boyfriend and then switches to "cute" mode.

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Literally, it means "The face now looked more of a face of a boy."

It can be interpreted as 1) Getting either wiser or more mature than before. 2) A young man entering adulthood.

As for how it is used, normally it is being used by parents telling their sons growing up and at other instances, a lover speaking to their lover. But frankly speaking, it is usually used to indicate growth of someone.

  • I know you are not trying to write vernacular English, but "The face now looked more of a face of a boy." makes no sense. Literally it should be more like (your/someone's face) became the face of a man and it simply means "you are a man now." – Jorge Bucaran Jan 1 '15 at 15:00

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