There are a few compound nouns that are made by compounding something with na-adjectives like 好き and 嫌い, for examples:

  • 花見好き
  • 子供好き
  • 水嫌い
  • 人嫌い
  • 負け嫌い

Are these compounds followed by a な particle? Or do they lose the na-adjective status and become 名詞 nouns (followed by a の particle)?

水嫌い な 犬
水嫌い の 犬

  • 3
    Both forms are used, and some people (or at least I) feel more comfortable with の. But I am interested to see something less subjective than my feeling. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


In word formation, there is a rule known as Right Hand Head Rule, which states that the component that comes to the right side of a complex word determines the base meaning and the grammatical category (parts of speech) of the whole word, and is called the head. This applies to Japanese as well. In all of your examples, 好き and 嫌い are the heads of the respective examples, which are na-adjectives (adjectival nouns). That is why the whole word becomes a na-adjective.

However, for the combinations with 嫌い, there is an alternative way to derive them. That is, besides the na-adjective 嫌い, there is a verb 嫌う, whose stem is 'kiraw-'. The stem is often used as a noun, and it can create compounds as well. Again following the right hand head rule, the created compound becomes a noun (e.g. 'mizu-giraw-'). Whenever there is a stranded consonant in Japanese, a vowel is inserted to make it compatible with Japanese phonology, and particularly for wago, the inserted vowel is 'i'. So the compound becomes 'mizugirawi'. A phonological rule in Japanese further comverts 'wi' into 'i', and the compound noun 水嫌い appears, which will take の.

  • Re right hand head rule, are you claiming that there are no languages in which the head of a compound word is at the beginning?
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 14:46
  • @Zhen Lin I am not saying that. But many languages follow it, irrespective of the word order. For example, English has the Verb-Object order whereas Japanes has the Object-Verb order, but irrespective of that, both follow this rule.
    – user458
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 14:49
  • Ah. I was mostly interested in finding out whether it really is the case in natural languages. I don't know of any languages which have primarily head-first compounds, but then again I don't know of many languages.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 14:53
  • 1
    Pretty good overview (including criticisms) at Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Righthand_head_rule
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 21:28
  • 2
    @Lukman When it comes to adjectival phrases like these, it makes more sense to assume an adjective, no? Besides, nobody uses 好く anymore ;-)
    – Claytonian
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 13:59

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