Dictionaries unanimously describe 訳 as an 頭高型 word: わけ{HL}

However, oftentimes when 訳 immediately follows a downstep-type verb, I don't hear any drop at all. That is to say, phrases like なるわけ sound like なるわけ{HLLL} to me. On the other hand, when following a flat-type verb, I think I generally hear it: 寝るわけ = ねるわけ{LHHL}

This is quite reminiscient to me of what happens to the pitch of こと when it follows a downstep-type verb, namely it "loses" its own pitch accent pattern and just stays low (more here).

Is my perception correct? Are なるわけ{HLLL} and ねるわけ{LHHL} the only permissible pitch accent patterns in Standard Japanese?

1 Answer 1


Yes, your observation is correct. As in the case of こと, わけ is also a 形式名詞 (formal noun), which is used as an abstract function word in the weak form that depends on the accent of the previous word it attaches to. When the main word is already accented, わけ then receives no more accent.


But of course, when わけ is a full word that retains its meaning, it is accentuated in its own right.

私が大統領に[なる]{HL}[わけ]{HL} the reason why I will be a president

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