Meaning of 「〜の(は)」 after an adjective

I am studying N5 grammar. In my today’s study session, I was greatly confused by the particle combination 「〜のは」 or 「〜のが」 which showed up in many of the example sentences.

Examples from https://bunpro.jp/grammar_points/55

飲み物の中で一番好きなのは何ですか。
Out of all drinks, what is your number one favorite drink?

More examples

お茶の中で一番美味しいのは何ですか。
Out of all teas, what is the number one most delicious tea?

国の中で一番人口が多いのはどれですか。
Out of all countries, which country has the number one largest population?

韓国の食べ物の中で一番好きなのはキムチです。
Out of all Korean foods, my number one favorite food is kimchi.

カタカナとひらがなと漢字の中で一番簡単なのは、ひらがなだろう。
Among hiragana, katakana, and kanji, hiragana is the number one simplest, right?

一番好きなのはどれですか、この中で?
Among these, which is your number one favorite?

Examples from https://bunpro.jp/grammar_points/361

映画を見に行くのが好きだけど、いいのがない。
I like to go watch movies, but there aren’t any good ones.

I have already learned the grammar point 「〜の(は)」 as a verb nominalizer. But this can’t be applied here since the particles all follow adjectives instead of verbs.

Can you explain the usage to me? What am I missing? Thanks!

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Hey :grin:

This is another use of の (it is on the to-do list). Dependent pronoun meaning “one”.
You can use it when you are referring to some noun (and it is understandable for your interlocutors) to avoid repetition. In translation of some of those sentences the noun that has been refereed to has been simply used instead of “one”.
は is our old friend - topic particle.

お茶の中で一番美味しい は 何ですか。
Among the teas, what is the most delicious one?

In this sentence, it refers to お茶。

Which is the contraction of:

お茶の中で一番美味しい お茶は 何ですか。
Out of all teas, what is the number one most delicious tea?"(sounds awkward, right? :sunglasses:)


カタカナとひらがなと漢字の中で一番簡単な は 、ひらがなだろう。
The simplest one among hiragana, kanji, katakana is hiragana, right?

Refers to 表記体系, notation/writing system or something along etc.


国の中で一番人口が多い は どれですか。
Out of all countries, which one has the number one largest population?

The のは refers to country.

国の中で一番人口が多い 国は どれですか。
Out of all countries, which country has the number one largest population?


一番好きな はどれですか、この中で?
Among these, which is your favorite one.

In this case we cannot really say what speaker is reffering to.

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That’s a very good explanation. I now understand the meaning. My follow-up question is about whether it is required. Are the following sentences interpreted correctly?


お茶の中で、一番美味しい何ですか。
This sentence does not make sense.

The sentence is incomplete because there is no subject. Or should we say, because 「美味しい」 as an adjective cannot modify 「何」?


(お茶の中で)一番美味しい、何ですか。
This sentence does not make sense.

Can a pure adjective be the topic of a sentence?


Edit: I should probably add, my confusion may arise from the fact that in my native language, German, nominalization of adjectives is done a bit differently. There is no equivalent to the English word one in this context. You just leave out the noun and you’re done.

Examples if you are interested in German grammar :kissing_smiling_eyes:

Magst du lieber den grünen Buntstift oder den roten Buntstift?
Do you prefer the green pencil or the red pencil?

Magst du lieber den Grünen oder den Roten?
Do you prefer the green one or the red one?

Von diesen Buntstiften, welchen magst du am liebsten?
Out of these colored pencils, which one do you prefer?

I guess Japanese is more similar to English in this aspect :wink:

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お茶の中で 、一番美味しい何ですか。
This sentence does not make sense.
The sentence is incomplete because there is no subject. Or should we say, because 「美味しい」 as an adjective cannot modify 「何」?

Kind of both. You cannot modify 何 - "what"with an adjective (though you can do this with 何か - “something”)

But it can be easily made into a proper sentence.

お茶の中で、何が一番美味しいですか。
Or
お茶の中で、一番美味しいのは何ですか。


(お茶の中で)一番美味しい 、何ですか。
This sentence does not make sense.
Can a pure adjective be the topic of a sentence?

No, it cannot be. :disappointed_relieved:
いAdjective needs の, and なadjective needs なの.


But in German articles and adjectives have case endings :grin:

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Can anyone help me out with one of the review questions about this grammar point?
I having trouble with the answer to this:

Why is the “の” there? Wouldn’t that mean “the hot one”? As in “I also like the hot one…”?

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@GregX999
Hey :grinning:

Yes, it means something along “I also like the hot one (climate, weather, etc are referenced), I also like something that is hot” etc :+1:

I have changed the nuance so that it will be easier to answer now :bowing_man:

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Thanks for the help!

Is that the correct way to say “heat” (for climate/weather)? Does 熱(ねつ) have a different nuance?

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This is kind of a stretch to make it sound a bit more natural in English.

If you want to have pure “heat” not “hot one” then you should use さ。

Cheers :+1:

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熱 by itself only refers to a fever (or in other words, an elevated temperature) of a living body.

It’s used in some 熟語 (じゅくご) that relate more generally to “heat” in a broader sense though, like 熱気 (hot air), 熱湯 (boiling water), and 熱帯 (the tropics).

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So when it comes to adjective nominalization in English, I read an example of “rich” and “poor”. Those are both adjectives used to describe things, usually people. But if we say “the rich have no patience for the poor”, we noninalize those adjectives to become nouns representing rich people and poor people.

Applying that lesson here, it seems like we cannot nominalize hot in English by adding “the” to it or anything. We would instead need a new word, “heat”. I think what the の particles is doing here is changing the adjective “hot” to the noun “heat” as in, “I also like the heat”

It’s a bit difficult to represent in English…

暑いの could be something like “the hot ones”, e.g. “I like the cold days in summer, but I also like the hot ones”. I.e. it is like “the rich”/“the poor”, but the pronoun can’t be omitted in English and only saying the second part sounds weird in English, hence “I like the heat”.

Nominalizing with の or こと could also end up meaning things like “(I like) that it’s hot” or “about the fact that it’s hot”. But the sentence is from the grammar point about の acting like a pronoun, so that’s what it must be :stuck_out_tongue:

In English, “heat” can also refer to the quality of being hot. English has some semi-regular construction methods for this concept too, but “hotness” means something else and “hoticity”, “hotosity” or “hotitude” don’t seem to exist, so we‘re stuck with “heat”…

Maybe this is what makes “I like the heat” as a translation a bit confusing. The sentence is not saying “I like the degree of how hot it is” or “I like the concept of something being hot” or “I like the fact that it’s hot” etc. It’s strictly only about liking hot weather.

To make 暑い into heat as a quality, or other adjectives into adjective-ness, you can use the suffix さ:
暑さ heat
きれいさ beauty (or cleanness)
ラーメンを食べたさ the desire to eat ramen

But again, that’s not the grammar point the example is from…

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