The following is from one of the definitions of a word in goo辞書:


I do not understand why is used here instead of こと.

Usually, I would expect to see (or こと) nominalize a verb. Nonetheless, I reckon it would be ungrammatical here, since what follows is the possessive , and a noun (度合い).

Alternatively, if I were to write this phrase myself, I would simply attach the plain verb (傾く) to the noun (度合い):


Which seems to express the same thing to me.

I do not think this かの is かのように, but what about 彼の? If I understand correctly, 彼の is simply an old-fashioned way of saying あの. If so, the phrase could be rewritten thus:


Which seems strange to me. (I am a low-level beginner though.) Could someone please help me understand the grammar at work here?


  • 1
    This may be helpful background: imabi.net/kaiiiindirectquestion.htm
    – mamster
    May 29, 2018 at 16:42
  • I can understand all the sentences listed in the link, and I think I've seen all the grammar covered there. Oddly, tho, I still can't parse this phrase correctly. I'd thought about the possibility of this か functioning as a embedded question marker before I posted this question, but I just don't see the necessity of it. Maybe I don't really get all these grammar points after all. Explanatory/nominalizing ん/の/こと is really hard for me.
    – Yeti Ape
    May 29, 2018 at 17:31
  • One thing I have to say about Imabi is that it is overly technical for someone like me. I can function fairly well in English, yet I have very little knowledge in terms of grammar. Therefore, his approach unfortunately really doesn't suit my learning style. Thanks for sharing though.
    – Yeti Ape
    May 29, 2018 at 17:33
  • @YetiApe Seeing that you are a Mandarin Chinese speaker, I can see why you don't think the か is necessary. In Chinese, there isn't a "special" grammar for indirect questions. You just kind of put the question as it is into the sentence and it all works out. But in Japanese, the か is necessary. English kind of has something like this as well. Compare "I know what that is" and "I know what is that". The latter is ungrammatical. In English the subject-verb order is preserved in indirect questions, while in direct questions it is not.
    – Sweeper
    May 29, 2018 at 20:18
  • Thanks for the feedback. By not necessary though, I was talking about the necessity of using an embedded question at all, rather than why か was needed in an embedded question. Two replies I got on HiNative cleared things up for me though. I'll try to make an answer myself later.
    – Yeti Ape
    May 30, 2018 at 2:00

1 Answer 1


Two native speakers on HiNative confirmed for me that it was indeed an embedded question:

どちらに傾くか。 Which side (out of two) does it lean towards?

What caused me to have a hard time getting it was in fact my mere oversight of a telltale sign, "どちら." It had been begging for my attention the whole time.

While I am uncertain and have nothing to quote from, I will just go ahead and assert that when a *subordinate clause begins with a question word, e.g. どこ, だれ, is always needed to mark it as an embedded question. Should this assertion prove to be wrong, hopefully someone would come along, slap me in the face, and warn everyone else of my blatant blasphemy.
* Not sure if subordinate clause is the right term. Ain't been a fan of grammar.

By this assumption, I would also assume that the following is wrong as well:


Finally, the original phrase in the question:

どちらに傾くかの度合い the degree of which side (out of two) it leans towards

This か makes perfect sense now. Phew.

  • 1
    "when a subordinate clause begins with a question word" <--- not just "begins". If the subordinate clause is a question. e.g. Yes/no questions: もう始まっているかどうかはわからない
    – Sweeper
    May 30, 2018 at 7:04
  • Again thank you for helping a lost fella out. I meant to stress how a question word in a subordinate clause necessitates the clause being an embedded question. In other words, removing か is not grammatical. Does this make sense? Hm... I might have to figure out a better wording sometime.
    – Yeti Ape
    May 30, 2018 at 8:48

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