How to use なんか ( = nanka)

「てか、なんか、最近忙しいんだよね。」
 
= Teka, nanka, saikin isogashiin dayone.
 
= I don’t know why but I’ve been busy, you know.

「ほら見て!私、飛んでるよ!」
 
= Hora mite! Watashi, tonderu yo!
 
= Look! I am flying!
 
なんか、変!」
 
= Nanka, hen!
 
= Something is strange…
 

Hi everyone!
 
Today’s guest teacher is Conchita Sensei.
 
She volunteered to be our guest teacher a long time ago.
 
お待たせしました!= Omatase shimashita. = Sorry for making you wait!
 
****
 
Hi I am Conchita!
 
I occasionally work for 宅急便(たっきゅうびん)= takyuubin = door-to-door delivery service and deliver fish to the cats in my neighborhood.
 
I will teach you how to use なんか ( = nanka) today.
 
1) The casual form of  何か = なにか ( = nanika ) something / anything
 
Ex. 何(なに)かお手伝いできることはありませんか?
 
= Nani ka otetsudai dekiru koto wa arimasen ka?
 
= Is there anything that I can do to help you?
 
(casual speech)
 
何(なん)か手伝うことない?
 
= Nanka tetsudau koto nai?
 
 
 Note: Since the kanji can be read both なに ( = nani) and なん ( = nan), I will use hiragana from here on out.
 
Ex. 今、なんか言った?
 
= Ima, nanka itta ?
 
= Did you just say something?
 
Ex. なんかあったの?
 
= Nanka atta no?
 
= Has anything happened?
 
= What is wrong? / What happened?
 
Ex. なにか食べるものはありませんか?
 
= Nani ka taberu mono wa arimasen ka?
 
(casual speech)
 
なんか食べるものない?
 
= Nanka taberu mono nai?
 
= Is there anything to eat?
   
Ex. 京都に行くけど、なんか欲しいものある?
 
= Kyoutou ni iku kedo, nanka hoshii mono aru?
 
= I am going to Kyoto. Do you want anything (from there)?
 
Ex. あそこになんかいる*よ。
 
= Asoko ni nanka iru yo.
 
= There is something over there.
 
(* いる ( = iru) is for living things but なんか ( = nanka) is rude to use for people.  You say 誰か ( = dare ka) )
 
2) to express unexplainable feelings / somehow / kind of / a little ~ / for some reason (being ambiguous/ when you try to find the right word
 
★From the picture above
 
なんか、変!」
 
= Nanka, hen!
 
= Something is strange…
 
Ex. 彼女、なんか綺麗になったね。
 
= Kanojo, nanka kirei ni nattane.
 
= She looks pretty these days for some reason.
 
Ex. なんか、感じ変わった?髪型かなあ。
 
= Nanka, kanji kawatta? Kamigata kanaa.
 
= You look different somehow. I wonder it’s your hairdo.
 
 
Ex. 彼が最近なんか冷たいんだよね。
 
= Kare ga saikin nanka tsumetain dayone.
 
= I don’t know why but he (or my boyfriend) is kind of cold towards me.
 
Ex. 来月、大学を卒業するって考えただけでなんか、悲しくなってきた。
 
= Raigetsu, daigaku wo sotsugyou surutte kangaeta dake de nanka, kanashiku natte kita.
 
= Just thinking about going to graduate from the university next month makes me feel sad for some reason.
 
Ex. 今日はなんかウケないなあ。
 
= Kyou wa nanka ukenai naa.
 
= Nobody is laughing at my jokes today for some reason.
 
★From the picture above:
 
「てか、なんか、最近忙しいんだよね。」
 
= Teka, nanka, saikin isogashiin dayone.
 
= You know I’ve been busy for some reason.
 
 
Note: てか ( = teka) is a very colloquial word which came from と言うか ( = to iu ka)
 
You also say つうか ( = tsuuka) /  つーか( =tsuuka) in casual Japanese speech.
 
It originally means “in other words” / ”How should I put it…”/ “I mean” /My point is…
 
Casual usage: You often start a sentence without any connection to one’s previous speech. →“You know”
 
なんか  ( = nanka) here means “I don’t know why but…. / for some reason”
 
 
Ex. なんか、気持ち悪くなってきた。
 
= Nanka, kimochi waruku natte kita.
 
= I am getting a little sick.
 
Ex. なんか、お腹すいた。
 
= Nanka, onaka suita.
 
= I am getting a little hungry.
 
Ex. なんか、疲れた。
 
= Nanka, tsukareta.
 
= I’m kinda tired.
 
Ex. なんか、ムカつく!(colloquial)
 
= Nanka, mukatsuku!
 
= It’s kinda annoying. / I’m kinda pissed off.
 
Ex. なんかごめんなさい。(conversational)
 
= Nanka gomennasai.
 
= I am kind of sorry/ I kind of feel bad.
 
Note: Sometimes you say that when you don’t think it is all your fault but you want to say “sorry” anyway.
 
「今、Conchitaのためにサプライズパーティーの支度をしているんだよ。」
 
= Ima, Conchita no tame ni sapuraizu paatii no shitaku wo shiteirun dayo.
 
= We are working on a surprise party for Conchita now.
 
なんか、すごいことになってるね。」
 
= Nanka, sugoi koto ni natterune.
 
= Wow… It kinda looks amazing, isn’t it?
 
Note: The translation of すごいこと ( = sugoi koto) changes depending on the context. It could be used negatively as well.
 
Ex. 「あの二人、最近、あまり一緒にいるの見ないね。」
 
= Ano futari, saikin, amari issho ni iru no minaine.
 
= I don’t see them together lately.
 
なんか先月、別れたみたいだよ。」
 
= Nanka sengetsu wakareta mitai dayo.
 
= (I am not sure but) it seems that they broke up last month.
 
3) noun + なんか ( = nanka) : When you belittle something, someone or express your strong emotion, emphasize what comes before in a negative way
 
(It is usually used in a negative sentence or negative words.)
 
Since it also has a belittling function to it, be careful how you use it.
 
Ex.あんな高いレストランなんか行かない。
 
= Anna takai resutorann nanka ikanai.
 
= There is no way that I would go such an expensive restaurant.
 
It shows your strong negative emotions and it might hurt someone’s feelings.
 
Ex. 彼氏なんかいらない。
 
= Kareshi nanka iranai.
 
= I DON’T need/want a boyfriend.
 
(You can also say 彼氏なんて = kareshi nante)
 
Ex. 言い訳なんか聞きたくもない。
 
= Iiwake nanka kikitaku mo nai.
 
= I don’t want to hear your excuses.
 
(You can also say 言い訳なんて = iiwake nante)
 
Ex. 誕生日なのにラーメンなんか食べたくない。
 
= Tanjoubi nanoni raamen nanka tabetaku nai.
 
= It’s my birthday. I don’t want to eat ramen.
 
(You can also say ラーメンなんて = ramen nante)
 
Ex. いい歳してアニメなんか見ないよ。
 
= Ii toshi shite anime nanka minai yo.
 
= I am an adult. I do not watch anime.
 
(You can also say アニメなんて = anime nante)
 
Ex. 浮気なんかしないよ。
 
= Uwaki nanka shinai yo.
 
= There is no way that I would cheat on you.
 
(You can also say 浮気なんて = uwaki nante)
 
Ex. たかし君なんか知らない!
 
= Takashi kun nanka shiranai!
 
= I don’t care about you anymore, Takashi!
 
(You can also say たかし君なんて = Takashi kun nante)
 
Note: 知らない (= shiranai) means “I don’t know” but in this case, the speaker obviously knows him and feds up with him.
 
Ex. もう弟と喧嘩なんかしちゃだめだよ。
 
= Mou otouto to kenka nanka shicha dame dayo.
 
= Don’t fight with your little brother anymore, OK?
 
(You can also say 喧嘩なんて = kenka nante)
 
Note: Mitsu-Sensei made a lesson on なんて( = nante) before.
 
As it is mentioned in the lesson, なんて ( = nante) and なんか ( = nanka) are sometimes interchangeable when it comes after a noun. (なんか( = nanka) expresses stronger emoion than なんて ( = nante))
 
 :i: The difference: You can’t use なんて( = nante) after a particle.
 
 
Ex. こんなに忙しいのに、友達の家なんか行って遊んでいる時間はない。
 
= Konnani isogashii noni, tomodachi no ie nanka ni itte asonde iru jikan wa nai.
 
= I am so busy that I have no time to go visit my friend.
 
( X You can’t use なんて ( = nante)
 
 
Ex. この木は、はさみなんか切れないよ。
 
= Kono ki wa,  hasami nanka de kirenai yo.
 
= You can’t cut this tree with scissors.
 
( X You can’t use なんて ( = nante)
 
Ex. あいつなんか負けてたまるか(male speech/rough)
 
= Aitsu nanka ni makete tamaru ka.
 
= I am not going to lose to him (her).
 
( X You can’t use なんて ( = nante)) Note: たまるか ( = tamaruka) Check this lesson. たまらない
 
4) and so on, for example (giving examples) / something/someone like~ / like ~
 
The conversational form of など ( = nado)
 
You also use this form to soften the sentence avoiding the straightforward expression.
 
 
Ex. そのシャツにはこのネクタイなんか合うんじゃない?
 
= Sono shatsu niwa kono nekutai nanka aun janai?
 
= I think this necktie goes well with that shirt. What do you think?
 
(You can also say このネクタイなんて= kono nekutai nante) )
 
Ex. これなんか彼女のプレゼントにどう?
 
= Kore nanka kanojo no purezento ni dou?
 
= How about this one for a gift to your girlfriend?
 
Note: こちらなんか ( = kochira nanka) → Polite way: こちらなど ( = kochira nado)
  
 Ex. 「誰か、いい人紹介してよ。」
 
= Dare ka ii hito shoukai shite yo.
 
= Set me up with someone nice.
 
「隼人君なんかどう?」
 
 = Hayato kun nanka dou?
 
= How about (a boy like) Hayato-kun?
 
( You can also say なんて ( = nante) )
 
 * noun +  ( = ka) + なんか ( = nanka)
 
Ex. ビールかなんかある?
 
= Biiru ka nan ka aru?
 
Do you have some beer or something?
 
If you say ビールある? ( =  Biiru aru? ) You are specifically asking for beer but by adding なんか ( = nanka), you can give the listener more choices.
 
5) to use なんか ( = nanka) after a subject or main topics: like ~
 
When you talk about something related to the topics.
 
Ex. 「新しいイタリアンの店、入るまでに30分かかったんだ。」
 
= Atarashii itarian no mise, hairumade ni sanjuppun kakattanda.
 
= I had to wait thirty minutes to get in the new Italian restaurant.
 
 
「私なんか一時間も待ったよ。」
 
= Watashi nanka ichijikan mo matta yo.
 
= (As for me) I waited good one hour.
 
(You can also say なんて ( = nante))
 
 
Ex. 「寒いね。」
 
= Samui ne.
 
= It’s cold, isn’t it?
 
「本当!昨日なんか窓が凍ってたもん。」
 
= Hontou! Kinou nanka mado ga kootteta mon.
 
= You can say that again. Like yesterday, the window was frozen.
 
Note: 凍っていたもの ( = kootte ita mono)
casual contraction 凍ってたもん ( = kootteta mon) 
 
(You can also say なんて ( = nante))
 
6) to start a conversation with なんか ( = nanka) putting your thoughts together.
 
Ex. なんかさあ、最近、彼女とうまくいっていないんだよね。
 
= Nanka saa, saikin, kanojo to umaku itte inain dayone.
 
= You know, things are not working so well with my girlfriend.
 
Ex. なんかさあ、遠距離恋愛って大変だよね。
 
= Nanka saa, enkyori ren’ai tte taihen dayone.
 
= You know, long distance love is hard, isn’t it?
 
Ex. 「どうしたの? 元気ないね。」
 
= Doushita no? Genki naine.
 
= Are you OK? You seem kind of down.
 
なんかねえ、いろいろあってね。」
 
= Nanka nee, iroiro attene.
 
= Well, I have been through a lot, you know.
 
 
Ex. 「どう?今日のお味噌汁、美味しい?」
 
= Dou? Kyou no omisoshiru, oishii?
 
= How’s today’s miso soup? Is it good? (Do you like it?)
 
なんかなあ。」
 
= Nanka naa.
 
= Hmm how should I put it..
 
 
******
 
マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei
 
Conchita 先生ありがとう!
 
= Conchita sensei arigatou!
 
= Thank you, Conchita Sensei!
 
次はうちにお魚を届けてね。
 
= Tsugi wa uchi ni osakana wo todokete ne.
 
= Please deliver fish to my house next.
 
 
みなさん、日本語の勉強にマギー先生のサイトなんかどう?
 
= Minasan, nihongo no benkyou ni Maggie Sensei no saito nanka  dou?
 
= How about a site like Maggie Sensei’s site to study Japanese, everyone?

 ****

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