何となく (nantonaku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Just Because

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article '何となく (nantonaku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Just Because'

Anna Baffa Volpe

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何となく (nantonaku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Just Because

The expression (なん)となく (nantonaku) has various meanings and the translation depends on the context and the situation.

We can translate it as for some reason, I guess, in some way, for no special reason.

How to form (なん)となく

(なん)となく is formed by 3 elements:

  • (なん) the interrogative meaning what
  • と is a particle connected to (なん)
  • なく is an adverbial form coming from ない not being, not existing

⇨ There is no particular thing, reason,in some way, somehow, I don't know why, but I feel so.


(なん)となく to express vagueness and uncertainty

(なん)となくis used to convey a sense of vagueness or uncertainty regarding a situation or feeling.

It implies that something is done or felt without a clear reason or explanation, often based on a vague intuition or feeling.

We can explain the structure using the Japanese sentence (ばく)(ぜん)(こた)える: answer vaguely.


Somehow I could listen.

Whenever we are asked something and we have no particular reason why we chose a thing or performed an action, the answer may be:


No particular reason.


I have a bad feeling about it somehow.

(なん)となく no clear reasons or purposes

(なん)となく is used when we perform an action without a clear reason or purpose.


I bought a lottery ticket without a clear reason or purpose, and I won.


I ran into a friend at the convenience store out of the blue.

⇨ I had no plans to meet a friend at the konbini, going there I met him by chance.

Other examples of (なん)となく



Sorry, but I won't be able to go to your birthday party tomorrow.



It’s okay. I just thought so.

Cover of a book for high school students:

The 55 rules of modern japanese composition for those who solve things somehow and end up with ambiguous scores
Advices for high school students


The 55 rules of modern japanese language for those who solve things somehow and end up with mediocre results

The sentence we focus on is: (なん)となく()く meaning solve / answer something vaguely or solve / answer something without much thought.



Did you understand how to use this kanji?



Yes, I understand most of it.