Is it true that all nouns must be able to accept a が particle and a を particle?

I was curious about how we could form a sentence with:

  1. 特別が

  2. 特別を

  3. 出色が

  4. 出色を

2 Answers 2


Nouns can always take the particles を and が. 形容動詞 cannot take these particles unless they are also classified as 名詞. As far as I know, neither 出色 or 特別 are independently-functioning nouns in standard grammar. One way you can check is by googling the exact phrase "特別を", for example. If hits are low, or if you get hits with 特別 set off from the を by quote marks, brackets etc. (for example, 「特別」を訳す, translate the word "特別"), the odds are good that you can't use it. That said, people will use language as is their wont, and there are some legit hits for 特別を. That does not mean it is standard, correct usage, and will not give you license to use it.

There are some na-adj. that are also nouns. 安全なところ, a safe place; 安全を守る, observe safety.

Additionally, some na-adj. can be converted into nouns by adding the suffix さ to them. 静かな街, a quiet street; 街の静かさ, the stillness of the street. You can google these to test them as well.

  • 2
    +1 for the Google test, but I think the inherently subjective nature of what is "correct" becomes quite relevant here.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 3:17
  • What is tricky about these examples is that they allow genitive case: 特別の.
    – user458
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 3:49
  • @ Matt - True dat, but you can't learn if there aren't rules. I know I don't feel like I'm 自在 enough to muck about and go all Joycean on 標準語's ass.
    – rdb
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 4:03
  • @rdb the question here is how do we check for sure whether a 形容動詞 is also an independently-functioning noun? The googling part sounds cool but its limitations are great (for example, like some words are already seldom used or perhaps seldom used in writing.. so they will already have low hits etc). so some words we can add the さ suffix while some we can't, but how od we know if we can? Is there a dictionary that we can trust (because they tend to contradict each other)?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 10:25
  • 1
    As Matt has noted, the idea of what "correct" usage is flexible and ever-changing, and, as Axioplase has noted, various authoritative sources will differ. To know "for sure" is probably not what you need. To know how words are normally used is enough, and I think you will be surprised how useful Google is in that regard.
    – rdb
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 17:56

Well, it seems obvious and weirdly asked.

  1. A noun does not "accept" a particle.
  2. A noun can always be the object or the subject of a sentence.

Trivial examples "Nounが名詞です" and "Nounを習った". A few less trivial examples, just for the sake of it:


Special is better than common (à la "less is more")


I want to make special things common (as a progressive architect may say)


There is excellency in the natural examples and in the 引きやすさ. (Example drawn from http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/三宅徳嘉)


How do you translate 出色 in English?

  • 1
    I think that perhaps Pacerier is asking about these two terms in particular because many dictionaries do not list them as nouns, only as "na adjectives", so that 特別を普通にする and 出色がある would be ungrammatical. Actual usage of these words is starting to go beyond the limits described by the dictionaries though, albeit often as self-conscious language play/"implied quotative" use (e.g. Google 特別が and see how many examples put quotes around the 特別, acknowledging the use as unconventional). Similar phenomena can be observed for other word types: "うれしいを、しっかり"; "知るを楽しむ", etc.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 1:53
  • @matt Edict shows them as nouns. I know that my last example is cheating using implicit quotes, but I think the others are fair, provided I'm not mistaken.
    – Axioplase
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 2:05
  • Edict may be more progressive on this issue, it no doubt depends on the dictionary. I have no problem with your examples -- just pointing out that some authorities might consider them nonstandard. I think it is the gap between these authorities and actual usage in certain idiolects that inspired the question here.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 2:18
  • 1
    Your ‘trivial’ examples seem to ignore the use–mention distinction.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 7:03
  • 1
    Put Zhen’s comment differently, you can even say 美しいを英訳するとどうなりますか, but this does not mean that を can be attached to an i-adjective. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 12:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .