Recently I saw the sentence「何見てるのよ」in manga. It was said by a female character. I suppose it's translated as "What are you looking at?". But I am not sure about the role of 「の」in this sentence. So there are 2 questions:

  1. Is 何見てるよ (without 「の」) still a valid sentence and means the same?
  2. What 「の」particle means in this sentence?

Also I've just found, that a 「の」particle can be used by feminine speakers as a sentence ending particle for emphasizing or questioning tone (which makes sense in the context of my question). But I am still not sure.

  • 1
    Are you familiar with ~のだ、~んだ(~のです、~んです)?
    – Angelos
    Sep 14, 2022 at 12:09

2 Answers 2


Technically, this の is not a particle but a special noun known as explanatory-の. If you aren't familiar with this yet, you have to learn it first. Although there is no direct equivalent in English, this is very important when you want to speak Japanese naturally.

When this type of の appears in a question, it seeks clarification (or explanation, excuse, etc). You need to use this type of の every time you make a question about what's already going on now.

  • Question Markers: か and の

    The connotation that the の has is to seek clarification based on background contexts, while the か doesn’t require any context.

何見てるよ is incorrect because it doesn't even look like a question.

In speech, の is very often used with various sentence-end particles, so you'll see variations like のさ, んだぜ, のよ, んだわ, and so on. It is true that "bare の" is relatively specific to feminine or childlike speakers in fiction, but other types of speakers do use explanatory-の as part of more complex sentence endings. For example, in a situation where a small girl might say 犬が好きなの, other characters might say 犬が好きなよ, 犬が好きなだ, 犬が好きなです, 犬が好きなさ, and so on. These all translate to "(It's that) I like dogs".

  • In line one you write that it's not a particle, but in the last paragraph you imply that it is a (sentence-ending) particle. Is it a particle or not? Sorry to nitpick, I am just confused. Sep 15, 2022 at 2:12
  • 1
    @SevenOclock This is a gray-area matter... Many dictionaries say "feminine bare の" is now an established sentence-end particle that derived from explanatory-の, but syntactically it's still close to a noun...
    – naruto
    Sep 15, 2022 at 2:22

Grammatically here is a question marker, #2 (I included #1 as reference):

1 (下降調のイントネーションを伴って)断定の言い方を和らげる意を表す。多く、女性が使用する。「伺いたいことがある―」「あいにく母は留守です―」

2 (上昇調のイントネーションを伴って)質問または疑問の意を表す。「君は行かない―」「そんなに悲しい―」「なぜな―」

and is

3 (疑問を表す語に付いて)相手をなじる意を表す。「しゃべったのはだれ―」「何―、この子は」

So, 何見てるの is neutral what are you looking at and よ adds a blaming tone to it; 何見てるよ is not correct.

You can search のよ on this site to see other examples. The ending is generally feminine. A masculine version of the sentence is 何見てんだ(よ).

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