So I came across this sentence when reading "Kokoro" by Natsume Souseki:


And a translation says:

...My friend was from a wealthy family in the Central Provinces, and had no financial worries. But being a young student, his standard of living was much the same as my own.

which shows that the pattern "AA" expresses something along the lines of "regarding A", "considering A". Am I wrong?

I wonder if there are any rules or restrictions in this use, as well as any possible indications and nuances. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank your in advance!

The full book: http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000148/files/773_14560.html

(I'm not native English speaker and this is my first question here (geez, I'm nervous!) so, I'm sorry if there're any mistakes or confusions in my question.)

  • +1 Interesting question! I'm native Japanese speaker, but I have never considered about it.
    – ra1ned
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 8:00
  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/15930/7810 Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 14:21
  • I am writing an answer, hoping you do not edit your question too much.
    – user4032
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 15:24
  • Aah I just did some minor edits. Sorry for any inconvenience from that!
    – Harmonika
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 15:34
  • 1
    Related: What does the pattern xはxで mean
    – Flaw
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


This question is 40-50% linguistic and 50-60% non-linguistic. Without a proper understanding of both, it would be impossible to really appreciate this sentence on any meaningful level.

First, let us look at the linguistic side of the question just because that is what this place is mostly about.

「Noun + が + Same Noun + (である/だ, etc.)」


"[Noun] being what it is", "[Noun] being the kind of [Noun] that it is", etc.

Note that this 「が」 cannot ever be replaced by 「は」 because it is a fixed expression.

This is a way of emphasizing the unique quality or characteristic of the object in question without explicitly mentioning that quality or characteristic . This is why I call this question "at least 50% non-linguistic". In this case, you have to know as prior knowledge how expensive this 「学校」 is. I will come back to this later.


therefore, means:

"because of the/our school being what it is and his/our age being what it is"

So, it is implicitly saying that the school was very expensive and his friend was very young.

The school in question is said to be 東京帝国大学{とうきょうていこくだいがく}, which is now called 東京大学. The period setting is at the end of Meiji Era. Even though it was a public school, the yearly tuitions at that school were as high as a working man's salary for several months. This is why the living standard of the narrator's friend was not very high even though he was from a rather wealthy family.

"which shows that "A が A" means something along the lines of "regarding A". Am I wrong?"

Sorry but I have no idea how you got that idea. "regarding A" is a little too weak as a translation.

I wonder if there are any rules or restrictions in using this pattern, as well as any possible indications and nuances.

To use 「A が A」 correctly, one must assume that the listener/reader has a general idea of what quality about A one is referring to. Otherwise, it just will not work well as that quality will not be explicitly mentioned (unless asked about later).



B:「そう、お父{とう}さんがお父さんだもん。」← That Akira is tall because his father is tall is implied. B knows that A also knows that Akira's father is tall.



B:「すごいわよね。勤{つと}めてる会社{かいしゃ}が会社だものね。」 ← That Hayashi's company pays well is implied. B knows already that A also knows well about that characteristic regarding Hayashi's company.


May be somewhat unrelated, but I ran into the expression 「うちはうち、そとはそと」 not too long ago. Not sure if it is a natural expression, but this has a similar pattern, even though the 助詞 is different. This also might have a parallel to the English expression "X is/are X," such as "rules are rules," which has a similar kind of assumption of the listener's knowledge.

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