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I was trying to understand a fragment from My Clueless First Friend, and got stuck with this sentence:

ごめん ね 多分 私 の こと を からかいたかった だけ な ん だろう けど 巻き込んで 嫌 な 気持ち に させちゃって

In the subtitles it's translated this way:

Oh, I'm sorry about that... I'm sure they were trying to tease me, but you got dragged into this too because of me...

I used different tools (jisho.org, rikaichamp, ichi.moe) and sources of information (subs, auto subs)... The results differ slightly...

The thing I'm the least certain about is なんだろう. The tools say it's 3 or even 4 words. But I guess it's after all 2 words: 何だろう. And it's probably like adding "I guess" to a sentence, expresses uncertainty. Or maybe she's just being humble, polite, doesn't want to sound abrupt.

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    The なんだろう is actually なのだろう. The の being the 代名詞
    – dvx2718
    Apr 30, 2023 at 19:18
  • You could've searched on this site japanese.stackexchange.com/q/72293/45489
    – sundowner
    Apr 30, 2023 at 21:19
  • @sundowner Actually I did. But before that I've spent a lot of time trying to understand it using other sources. So I probably didn't put much effort into searching on this site. And I'm not sure the title of your link would have attracted my attention back then, since I'm probably on a more basic level. Next time I'll try to put more effort. And your link is useful, by the way.
    – yk7
    May 7, 2023 at 8:34

1 Answer 1

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This なん is not a contraction of なに (何). Forget 何 for now. Here, なん is a contraction of なの, where this ん/の is something known as explanatory-の.

You can understand this sentence ending as follows:

  • 私のことをからかいたかった。
    They wanted to tease me.
  • 私のことをからかいたかっただけだ
    They just wanted to tease me.
  • 私のことをからかいたかっただけなんだ
    It's that they just wanted to tease me.
  • 私のことをからかいたかっただけなんだろう
    It's perhaps that they just wanted to tease me.
  • 私のことをからかいたかっただけなんだろうけど、...
    It's perhaps that they just wanted to tease me, but...
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  • From your answer, links and other sources it seems like なんだろう is used when a person is trying to guess the reason or cause. That is, what precedes なんだろう is what she thinks is the reason for what is written on the blackboard. She uses んだ because she provides an explanation. だろう is the form of だ that expresses possibility/uncertainty/doubt. Next things are less clear/certain for me. な is the attributive form of だ. That is, since we're adding a noun (ん/の), we need to put な after... supposedly the attribute (...かっただけ)...
    – yk7
    May 7, 2023 at 7:51
  • ...But I wonder if the sentence can end with just だけ (without だ)? Since the sentence already has a verb (からかいたかった).
    – yk7
    May 7, 2023 at 7:52
  • @x-yuri Yes you're on the right track. As for your last question, だけ behaves like a no-adjective. Just as you say これは緑だ, you say からかいたかっただけだ or からかいたかっただけなんだ (Note how の changed to な before んだ/のだ).
    – naruto
    May 8, 2023 at 3:55
  • At first glance it looks like だ changes to な here. But if you really mean it... だけ acts as a no-adjective... meaning a noun that is added to a noun with の... Let's call the first sentence X. First we take だけ and add X to it. It's added as is (the way 喋る is added to 猫 in 喋る猫). X is the attribute of だけ. And to make a sentence we add だ to the end: Xだけだ. だ probably links Xだけ to the topic. Then we take ん, add だけ to it with な (だけ is the attribute of ん), add X to だけ (X is the attribute of だけ), and add だ to the end to make a sentence: Xだけなんだ. Or so I'd have explained it...
    – yk7
    May 14, 2023 at 2:17
  • ...If だけ is a no-adjective, we should have used の in place of な. Can you explain why の changes to な here? Or give some hint?
    – yk7
    May 14, 2023 at 2:18

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