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念のために{ねんのために} means "just in case", but since the kanji is 念, from 残念{ざんねん}, I'm just wondering if it has the nuance of "to avoid unfortunate incidence..." or whether it is as versatile as "just in case"

例えば{たとえば} Just in case you don't know, this is a pen 念のために、これはペンです

Now I'm pretty sure this doesn't work, cause it doesn't specify the "not knowing", so how about:

分からない念のために、これはぺんです。 OR 分からない場合に、これはぺんです。 OR 分からなかったら、これはぺんです。

Y'know, maybe in the end I answered my own question...but could someone give me an actual informed opinion? Is 念のために limited to unfortunate incidents only?

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The kanji 念 on its own means thoughts, and it doesn't have a negative connotation. 残念 is made of remaining + thoughts, hence regret. Therefore, 念のため is neither negative nor positive. It's a set phrase that corresponds to English "just in case", "just to be sure", "to be clear", etc.

念のために、これはペンです doesn't sound natural, but 念のため、これはペンです without に works just fine (as long as you really think someone may not understand it's a pen).

分からない念のため is incorrect. "Thoughts you don't know" doesn't make sense. I don't think this 念 accepts another modifier.

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  • Just to complement naruto's second point, a little 念のために would be followed by a verb, so in this (contrived) example, 念のために言うけど、これはペンです, or something along those lines.
    – Philippe
    Jun 8, 2017 at 14:12

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