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最近、忙しくて。昨日だって帰ったの12時すぎだったよ。

Please explain the use of の in the above sentence.

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This の is a special noun used to form cleft sentences. English speakers use preparatory it for this type of sentence. Japanese speakers use の.

From this:

12時過ぎに帰った。
I got home past midnight.

We can form the following cleft sentence:

帰ったのは12時過ぎだった。
It was past midnight that I got home.

And we can drop は in casual speech:

帰ったの12時過ぎだった(よ)。
It was past midnight that I got home.

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    Just out of interest do you think it is inaccurate to claim that の is a nominaliser for cleft sentences like this? It doesn't seem to quite work the way I normally think of nominalisers but it is surely turning 帰った into a noun. – user3856370 Mar 18 at 23:55
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    @user3856370 It's not inaccurate to say a nominalizer is a special noun, either. I tend to use the word nominalizer only when you can translate that part by adding "-ing". If "(My) having gotten home was past midnight" is enough as a translation, we can call this a nominalizer, but this it not the most natural translation... – naruto Mar 19 at 14:20

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