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そのきつねがなにかしきりと前{まえ}あしで顔{かお}をこすっているかと思{おも}うと、なにか草の葉{は}を頭{あたま}にのっけて、ちゅう帰{かえ}りのようなことをした。

How is なにか used in this sentence? It is used twice, but it doesn't seem to mean "something" in this case. The sentence is from a story called "小学生ときつね"

Thank you

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At its most pure, なにか on its own does mean "something/anything/whatever". However, it can also be used generally to express many forms of vagueness, typically indicated by the English marker word "some", especially when combined with the true subject of the statement. Think "some kind/sort of [thing]", and "somehow" as a lead-in.


Example 1

Johnはなにかを買った
"John bought something"

Johnはなにか本を買った
"John bought some book"

Example 2

なにかものたらない
"This is incomplete somehow"

(The source also demonstrates informal/shorthand/dialect usage なんか)


You can think of the general purpose of なにか as the concept "[something] I can't quite put my finger on".

  • Okay, I think I understand. For the second use of なにか, I'm guessing it's being paired with 草の葉 to mean roughly "something like grass". However, with the first use I'm still a little confused. Would it mean "the fox is doing something like rubbing its face with its paws"? Like something that resembles rubbing its face, but it's not clear? – smkraft Aug 30 '17 at 21:43
  • 1
    Please note I am not a native speaker or fluent by any means, so I can't really speak to conventional vs. colloquial usage. Putting aside the cold read and parsing only context, for the first part of the sentence, I might read it "I kinda thought..." since it precedes the entire thought process. Context-wise, I might expect the second one to convey "for no particular reason", or as you said "something like" but applying to all the things 小学生 was doing on the way home. – feelinferrety Aug 30 '17 at 21:57

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