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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?

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    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. – user3856370 May 3 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 – jacoballens May 3 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 at 22:57
  • it was an example sentence on wordreference.com actually, hahaha. so really no context to provide :( – jacoballens May 4 at 2:07
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Before addressing んでしょう, it bears noting that

なんてX{の/なの}でしょう!

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:

なんて素晴らしいのでしょう!
How wonderful!

なんて失礼なのでしょう!
How rude!

なんて気が利く人なのでしょう!
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:

なんて優しいのでしょう!

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)]:

でしょ‐・う
連語〔「だろう」の丁寧語〕
➎《疑問や感動を表す語を伴って》反語や感動を表す。
「だれが信じてくれる━か」
「何と魅惑的な人━」

Quick English translation of the above:

でしょ‐・う
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

「だれが信じてくれるでしょうか」
 "Who would believe me?" / "Who would believe that?"

「何と魅惑的な人でしょう」
 "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.

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    +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. – user3856370 May 5 at 15:39
  • @user3856370 Good idea -- added a quick translation of the entry just now. – Setris May 5 at 22:27

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