In the sentence 「なんて優しいんでしょう!」what is the purpose of adding んでしょう?

  • 2
    To improve the question, tell us what you already know about んでしょう and why that doesn't seem to work in this example. I have to admit that it confuses me too. May 3, 2019 at 7:04
  • what i’ve learned is that でしょう is like a question tag and んです/んだ is for stating your reasoning? but i don’t understand the link between them here haha May 3, 2019 at 12:48
  • We might need more context to answer this fully, but, なんて marks the negative tone, and the use of ん with でしょう makes me think that this person is responding to, say, too rough a touch, where this could be "I said gentle(r)!". That said, could you please provide more info about the source? Maybe some additional context sentences around this?
    – psosuna
    May 3, 2019 at 22:57
  • it was an example sentence on wordreference.com actually, hahaha. so really no context to provide :( May 4, 2019 at 2:07

1 Answer 1


Before addressing んでしょう, it bears noting that


is itself a common phrase pattern used to express surprise or admiration of something, where X can be an i-adjective (e.g. かわいい), a na-adjective (e.g. きれい), or a noun phrase (e.g. 素敵なお方). Examples of how this might translate to English are exclamatory phrases like "How exciting!" or "What a beautiful view!"

Some additional examples:

How wonderful!

How rude!

What a thoughtful person!

Given the above, 「なんて優しいんでしょう!」 would translate to "How kind!"

With that established, let's break down 「なんて優しいんでしょう!」, and for convenience of explanation let's normalize the ん to の:


なんて is an adverb that expresses feelings of surprise/shock or admiration. 優しい is an i-adjective, the extent of which is being admired in this utterance.

Now we come to のでしょう. This is the [declarative/explanatory の] + [でしょう functioning as an expresser of emotion (since it accompanies なんて, a 感動を表す語; see the following excerpt from 明鏡国語辞典)]:


Quick English translation of the above:

collocation (of でしょ (mizenkei of です) + う) [polite form of だろう]
5. (when accompanying language that expresses questioning/doubt or emotion) serves as an indicator of a rhetorical question or expresses emotion

 "Who would believe me?" / "Who would believe that?"

 "What an enchanting person!"

So the の emphasizes the declaration, followed by でしょう which serves to augment the emotion expressed by this exclamatory phrase.

  • 1
    +1 I never new that definition of でしょう. It would be good if you could add a translation of the dictionary entry you quote. May 5, 2019 at 15:39
  • @user3856370 Good idea -- added a quick translation of the entry just now.
    – Setris
    May 5, 2019 at 22:27

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