Grammar Info
N2 Lesson 9: 17/23

or something, or something like that

Pronounced as なんか in casual situations

Noun +
Register Standard
使用域 一般
か何(なに)か is a structure in Japanese used for expressing uncertainty about a specific thing. Being a construction of か, the substitute noun 何(なに), and か, the common translations of ‘or something’, and ‘or something like (A)’ are quite close to the more literal meaning which is just ‘(A), or whatever it is’.
か何(なに)か will follow directly after the noun that it is describing as being something uncertain.
  • すみません、お茶(ちゃ)か何(なに)かありませんか?
    Excuse me, do you have tea or something?
  • お巡(まわ)りさん!あそこにナイフか何(なに)かを持(も)った怪(あや)しい人(ひと)がいました。
    Officer! There was a suspicious person over there holding a knife or something.
か何(なに)か will also often be used in questions, or when offering someone something. This is primarily when more than (A) is available as a choice, but the speaker isn’t specifying a list just yet. In these situations, (A) just indicates a general category to which ‘or something else’ would be a part of.
  • 何(なん)でもいいんで、水(みず)か何(なに)かをください。
    Please give me water or something. Anything would be fine.
  • 紅茶(こうちゃ)か何(なに)か飲(の)みませんか?
    Do you want to drink tea or something?
Slow Male
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Hitomi, the bartender: "Would you like something to drink?".
Nitta, the customer: "I want a beer or something".
Policeman: I think that the thief opened the window using a crowbar or something.
A: "Where could he be? He's like three hours late now…"
B: "He should be coming by bus, so I have a feeling that he is stuck in traffic or something."

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