While reading a grammar book, I read the following explanation of な

na, a masculine ne

Both sexes use ne, but male speakers often use na instead. There are other uses of na common to both genders, but it's mostly masculine to use it as the equivalent of a rhetorical tag question that expects or solicits agreement. One important difference: na cannot be used directly after a noun the way ne is used in the example 「まあ、ふきのとう。春ねえ。」 whether as an exclamation or as a tag question/request for confirmation.

Why can't な be used directly after a common, non-な-adjective noun without declarative だ like ね? What would the meaning be if it were? For example, if a Japanese speaker read「まあ、ふきのとう。春なあ」how would the interpretation change?

Edit: わ, ぞ, and ぜ also require the declarative だ at the end of noun-type sentences. Why?

  • 1
    I'm betting a lot of people don't know what PL2 and PL3 mean unless you explain it...
    – istrasci
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:33
  • 2
    I think the な in お前なぁ… is different from that in 春なあ. The latter shows exclamation but the former doesn't. Maybe the former is 間投助詞 rather than 終助詞.
    – legogo
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 8:17
  • I think this question has morphed into one about why ね is able to follow anything Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 16:33
  • @legogo That could be true.
    – DXV
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:46
  • I could be wrong, but 「春なあ。。。」 would mean "Spring, huh." Imagine the following conversation: 「春まで待つしかないでしょう、おそらく。」「春なあ。。。」 So it can be used informally, but I don't think it's grammatically correct. In this specific case, I imagine it would mean something closer to "Ah, spring" rather than "It's spring". Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 4:11

2 Answers 2


Whether or not you need だ/です between a noun and a sentence-end particle depends on the choice of the particle. Unfortunately, you have to memorize which requires だ/です. Anyway, each combination has its own "feeling", and you have to read lots of Japanese text to familiarize yourself. That said, it's good to know だ itself tends to have a bit masculine or blunt overtone.

よ and ね work without だ, but adding だ makes it sound more masculine.

  • 春よ。: highly feminine
  • 春ですよ。: neutral but slightly feminine, polite
  • 春だよ。: relatively masculine or tomboyish
  • 春ね。: feminine (sounds like a mom speaking to her child)
  • 春ですね。: neutral, formal
  • 春だね。: relatively masculine (sounds like a dad speaking to his child)

な, わ, ぜ and ぞ require だ or です after the noun.

  • ×春わ。 (ungrammatical)
  • △春ですわ。: extremely feminine (sounds like a fictional noble girl)
  • 春だわ。: highly feminine
  • ×春ぜ。 (ungrammatical)
  • △春ですぜ。: highly masculine (sounds like a rough guy trying to be polite)
  • △春だぜ。: highly masculine (sounds like a heroic boy in a shonen manga)
  • ×春な。 (ungrammatical, although Yotsuba uses this a lot. It also makes sense when it works like a topic particle, e.g., お前なぁ…)
  • △春ですな。: masculine (sounds like an elderly pompous butler, novelist, etc.)
  • 春だな。: masculine
  • ×春ぞ。 (ungrammatical, but rare archaic copula-like ぞ exists, e.g. 我は魔王ぞ)
  • △春ですぞ。: masculine (sounds like a comical old man)
  • 春だぞ。: masculine or tomboyish

さ/や/じゃ works like a copula themselves.

  • 春さ。: masculine or tomboyish, dialectal
  • ×春ですさ。 (ungrammatical)
  • ×春ださ。 (ungrammatical)
  • 春や。: masculine, dialectal
  • ×春ですや。 (ungrammatical)
  • ×春だや。 (ungrammatical)

(× indicates ungrammatical. △ indicates the expression is part of a role language and used only by a certain category of people in fictional works.)

Na-adjectives like 元気 follow the same pattern. Explanatory-の/ん works basically in the same way (because の/ん is a formal noun), but some are strongly associated with either one of の and ん.


I disagree with the grammar book. Both な and ね are used regularly, but ね is more common because な is harsher. I often hear な on the golf course or at drinking parties when with predominantly or exclusively men:

  • すげえショットな!
  • ビールかハイボールしかない?ビールな。

I'd translate these as close-to English swearing, like this;

  • Nice f***in' shot boy!
  • Beer or highball? F***, beer man.

Use of ね is way more polite, so can't be used directly in place of な in the first sentence above: 「すげえショットね」sounds off-balance, because 「すげえ」and 「ね」do not match. To use ね you'd have to soften すげえ to すごい to produce 「すごいショットね」which is perfectly acceptable.

Although not direct evidence for my argument, here are Google extact-phrase hit counts for a few different patterns:

  • すごいね 4,320,000 results (soft + soft = balanced) often used
  • すげえな 1,410,000 results (harsh + harsh = balanced) used less often because it is harsh
  • すげえね 21,700 results (harsh + soft = unbalanced) almost never used

(Edit)Also searched NWJC(国語研日本語ウェブコーパス)

  • すごいね 86088 results
  • すげえな 10535 results
  • すげえね 118 results

(Note that I've deliberately omitted 「すごいな」results because here な can be used its usual adjective sense, treating すごい as a な adjective as in 「すごいなこと」)

These Google search results do not directly relate to your question, because they pertain to the adjective すごい and not to nouns, but there is no single noun that I can think of that will yield a large enough hit number on Google search to make a similar comparison with nouns. Even more problematic is that it's impossible to filter out results for which な is used as a な adjective.

My sense is that this issue is related to usage difference between だ and です. だ is clearly much more informal, and male speakers use it much more often than female speakers. Similar to my な and ね argument above, だ can't be mixed with polite forms. For example: 「美味しゅうです」is OK, 「美味しゅうだ」is cringingly bad.

So I suspect that the grammar book suggests that な can't be used after nouns only because this use is highly informal. It is easy to go astray when trying to use な after a noun, either through poor sentence balance, or through use inappropriate social contexts (i.e. it sounds informal at best, and can be highly impolite, close to swearing in certain contexts).

  • Google result counts can't be trusted or used as if they are corpus data. See here webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/47182/…
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 7:24
  • That Stack Exchange discussion pertains to SITE queries and not to general Google searches.
    – ToddP
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 7:35
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    I'll grant you that I'm not finding the best links at explaining ... but the relative hit counts are inaccurate. Here's people asking on google's forums about this: support.google.com/websearch/forum/AAAAgtjJeM4A9tMkn3D0_8?hl=en / support.google.com/websearch/forum/AAAAgtjJeM4Jpzg7tBivu4?hl=en / . Also look through the references to this bu.edu/isle/files/2012/01/…
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 9:05
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    すげえショットな --「すげえショットな」じゃなくて? ビールかハイボールしかい の「しかい」って何ですか? すごいなこと 美味しゅうです なんて言いません。「すごいこと」「美味しいです」って言います。
    – chocolate
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 15:43
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    「すげえショットな」は聞く -- 近年の俗語的な「な」のことですね。「すげえショットだな。」や「すげえショットね。」などの「だな」「ね」と少し使い方・意味が違いますよね。 「美味しゅうでぞざいます」は言うでしょう。 -- ううん、言わないです・・・「美味しゅうでざいます」の書き間違いかもしれないけど、それも言わないです・・・「美味しゅうございます」って言います・・・(「で」は入りません)
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 2:27

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