Using the word Nankaなんか to express “like” in Japanese.

Hey guys, how are you doing today? Welcome to another amazing online Japanese lesson from Bondlingo. Today we are going to look at a really cool word in Japanese which is なんか “nanka”.

How to use なんか Nanka in Japanese

We will first start with a brief introduction of the word and discuss its different meanings. Once we have explained those, we will then move on to see how it can be used grammatically within sentences. Once we have mastered that, we will move on to some sentences. Finally, we will introduce a new study tip to help you remember and utilise the word for more efficiently.

So first let’s jump right in to the lesson and find out exactly what “nanka” なんか means.

So what exactly is なんか Nanka in English?

So what exactly is Nanka? Well, the first meaning is “like”. It is equivalent to the English “like”. You may hear certain people in English speak in the following way, “Like totally, I would never like do that, it’s just like wrong”. I’m sure you have heard this type of language in your life before, whether that be in real life or the movies. In Japanese なんか equates to the same thing.

Nanka is only used in spoken language, so please bear that in mind.

Originally, in Japanese, it has been shortened from 何か, which means something, to なんか. Nanka is the the casual form of Nanika, so if a shopkeeper comes to you and says, “Nanka o-sagashi desu ka?” it means, “are you looking for something”


How do you use it in a sentence?

Nanka, can be used almost anywhere in the sentence when you are looking to express the meaning of “like”, just like in English. Be warned, this can turn into a really bad habit that you end up getting stuck with so please ensure to use with caution.

When it comes to using なんか as “something”:

Nanka kaimasu ka
Will you buy something?

As you can see here it is used exactly like where you would use なにか however there is a small difference. Can you tell what that is? There is no particle. When using なんか you do not need to use any particles after It which makes it quite easy to use.  

Let’s look at some example sentences!

Let’s look now at some example sentences so you can see it in action.

These first two sentences use the “something” meaning, see how no particles are needed after なんか:

toukyou ni iku kedo, nanka hoshii mono aru?
I am going to Tokyo. Do you want anything?
Asoko ni nanka iru.
There is something over there.

In this example なんか is used with the meaning “like” or “say” imagine how useful this could be to get someone’s attention or to fill in those awkward pauses,

Nanka, kimochi waruku natte kita.
Say, I am getting a little sick.

Remember to repeat these sentences out loud to help solidify and get used to the pattern. This is a really important step in your learning process and should be followed always.


Let’s look at a fantastic study tip

Today we have studied なんか with 2 different meanings, the first being “like” and the second being “something” or “anything”. For that reason, you should first master a single meaning and then move onto the next in order to avoid confusion. To do this focus on the first meaning for a full day, write and read as many example sentences as you can and try and use it within your speech in that way too.

The next day do the same with the second meaning. This way you will be able to separate the meanings in your head and almost look at it like a separate word altogether. If you follow this, you should have no trouble in mastering both meanings pretty quickly.  

So guys that brings us to the end of today’s lesson, we really hope that you have enjoyed today’s lesson on “the common Japanese phrase, なんか and got a lot from the lesson. If you have any questions that you would like to ask, then please get in touch as we would be more than happy to answer those for you.

Also, if you have any extra ideas for content that you would like us to cover in our upcoming online Japanese articles please also let us know so we can help you in any way we can. We really want you to make huge progress with your Japanese with us so we want to be as helpful and useful as possible. Have a great day everyone and we will see you in the next online article from Bondlingo. またね.

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