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I'm solving exercises for N1 level and I came across this question.

新しい家に飾る絵を探しているが、なかなか__というものが見つからない。

A. これか

B. これは

C. これさえ

D. これだけ

The correct answer is B but I think it should be C.

I don't understand what the grammar point of 「これはというもの」is.

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    I think これは can be used as an expression of surprise.
    – Angelos
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 20:49
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    なかなか「これは…!」というまの… — Does that help?
    – deceze
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 20:51

2 Answers 2

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「これは」 is an expression which indicates surprise, or something that's giving the speaker pause, along the lines of "Wait, this one...". Anything coming before a 「という」 should be taken as literal exclamation; so rather than 「はという」, the sentence really is:

なかなか「これは」というものが見つからない。

Which means "I can't really find anything that makes me go 'This is it.'", or "...that I find worth considering."

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    ちなみに、「これだ」という言い方もできます。こっちの方が "this is it" に近いかもしれません。 Commented May 2, 2016 at 13:38
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The structure X というもの changes a word or sentence into a noun phrase (a concept), and means 'something like X' .

  • さえ is a particle but not a sentence ending one so it cannot appear before a と quote.
  • だけ too is a particle; it can appear in a sentence-ending as long as it is followed by the copula. So it would need to be これだけだ to fit.
  • if これか is an embedded question, then it uses a different structure to と quotes, and anyway the speaker would more likely ask a question like これは何というものですか.

Whichever way, か, さえ and だけ simply don't make sense in the context of this problem.

So why is これは? correct when it too seems to jar?

  • これは marks the topic and it is assumed to be something known by the speaker and hearer. In this case, it refers back to 飾る絵 in the first clause (ISR: intersentential reference)
  • Simplifying the second clause you get: これは見つかれない - "I can't find this" which starts to sound better but, これ is a demonstrative pronoun that points to a specific thing.
  • The speaker has a general idea in mind of what they want so you need to make これは into a general concept. By adding というもの to the topic to abstract it into 'I can't find something like this' and then adding in the adverb なかなか(Vneg~ない), you get "but, it's not easy to find something like this".

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