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I understood roughly what sou desu, sou des ka mean. But I'm having difficulty in understanding the word nan in sou nan des ka. If Sou des ka can literally be translate as "correct/it seem so is it?" How does adding nan "what" fit in this sentence? If anyone could explain would be much appreciated.

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This なん is not 何; this is な + んです + か。

そう is treated like (but it's really not) a na-adjective. So following the construction here, it becomes そうなんですか。From the same website:

んです (ndesu) has the same meaning as です (desu), but is different in that it feels a bit more personal since it is used to explain something, give reasoning, or to emphasize something.

So corollarily, そうなんですか is like そうですか but it feels a bit more personal.

(Note: I believe this has already been answered somewhere in this site, but I'll answer it anyway for good measure.)

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  • Thank you. Just one thing, is the n silence in んです (ndesu)? if it is then would なんです (nandesu) pronounce like na desu? – John Adams Jul 4 '20 at 10:23
  • Hi John. Japanese does not have a concept of silent ん or any consonant for that matter. – rebuuilt Jul 4 '20 at 10:25
  • Also if そうなんですか (sounandesuka) is formal, how come it's not often I hear of そうなんだか (sounandaka) as casual version or maybe I just don't hear enough? – John Adams Jul 4 '20 at 10:28
  • That's a good question. How about you post a separate question for that? – rebuuilt Jul 4 '20 at 10:32
  • i posted the new question – John Adams Jul 4 '20 at 10:36

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