What are some examples of their usage? Is なん the short form of 何【なに】 in both words?

Also, not sure if this is correct, but the だ in the middle of なんだか should be the copula. Why is the copula being used like this in the middle of a word?


なにか can mean something as well as somehow while なんだか is always the adverb somehow. なんか is a less formal, more colloquial version of なにか with its に changed to ん (cf. 撥音便)

Although だ should be etymologically the copula, but as you can see in the link, it would be simpler to consider them as independent words on their own.

Some examples:

  • なんだか悲しい気分だ = なんか悲しい気分だ I feel sad for some reason
  • なんか食べたい I want something to eat

なんだか is three words なん + だ + か but it's become a set phrase and is used as a word itself pretty much to express an idea like somehow, somewhat, or rather.


It's rather cold today.

なんか is different with a couple of different uses. It's usually an informal version of なにか or など.


I want something cold to drink.



I have no interest in things like painting and music.

  • 2
    なんか and なんだか are interchangeable when they mean somehow, e.g., 今日はなんか寒い and 今日はなんだか寒い are very close.
    – naruto
    Oct 14 at 21:47
  • 1
    @naruto Thank you. I was also wondering about formality when it comes to なんだか. It doesn't seem to me there is a fixed expression to use for なんだか in a more formal setting. It seems to me that in a formal setting different expressions need to be used on a case by case basis. Am I right?
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 14 at 21:50
  • 4
    なんか is very informal and should be avoided in almost any formal setting, whereas なんだか is fine in day-to-day business settings. In very formal settings, we can use どうも, いくぶん, いささか, どういうわけか, etc.
    – naruto
    Oct 14 at 21:55

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