Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 6: 21/24

(こと)

How…, What..., God knows...

いくたび・いくど

Structure

Verb + ことか
[い]Adjective + こと
[な]Adjective + + こと
Noun + である + こと

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About ことか

Like ことに, ことか is a grammar point that utilizes the kanji (こと), meaning 'particularly' (in terms of a large amount). As these structures regularly appear in hiragana, they are not to be confused with (こと) 'thing'. こと is a combination of 'particularly', and the case marking particle か, presenting a question.
In sentences with ことか, words that highlight some particular number or extent are often used, before ことか comes at the end of the statement, expressing that 'extent' as being particularly unusual, or even unbelievable (thanks to the addition of か). This is often translated simply as 'how (A)', 'what (A)', or even 'god knows (A)'. Let's look at a few examples.
  • あの(ひと)コンサート何回(なんかい)いったことか
    God knows how many times I have gone to that person's concert.
  • うち(いぬ)はどんなに可愛(かわい)ことか。こんなに可愛(かわい)いワンチャンは(ほか)にはいないはず
    How can I explain how cute my dog is? There is no other dog as cute as her.
  • なんて(ひま)ことか。こんなに(ひま)なのは(ひさ)しぶり
    God knows how bored I am. It's been a long time since I've been this bored.
  • 息子(むすこ)一人(ひとり)電車(でんしゃ)()せるどれだけ心配(しんぱい)であることか
    God knows how worried I am to let my kid on the train by himself.
Literally, ことか can be translated as 'to what particular (A) is (B)!?', as the enquiry is often not directed at anyone specifically, but instead presents itself as a question simply to emphasize its magnitude.
Caution
In modern Japanese, this expression is used primarily in written language, and has a tendency to sound either poetic, or dramatic. Because of this, it may sound unnatural in daily speech, unless the speaker is purposely being dramatic.
  • どれだけ(まえ)(こと)(あい)ていたことかそれでも(おれ)はお(まえ)裏切(うらぎ)られた!
    God knows how much I loved you! Still, you betrayed me.
  • ()らない(ひと)ありがとうと()われるどれだけ(うれ)しいことか
    God knows how nice it feels to have a stranger thank you.

Examples

  • これどれだけ()っていたことか

    God knows how long I have waited for this!

  • 文法(ぶんぽう)勉強(べんきょう)するためのサイトを(いま)まで何度(なんど)(ため)したことか

    Until now, god knows how many sites I have tried learning grammar on!

  • (ぶん)プロがあってどんな便利(べんり)ことか

    How convenient it is to have Bunpro!

  • (きみ)()えてどんな(うれ)しかったことか

    How happy I was after meeting you!

  • 子供(こども)のころ、この喫茶店(きっさてん)()ったことがある。あの(とき)のドーナツは、(なん)うまかったことか

    When I was a child, there was a time we went to this coffee shop. God knows how delicious these donuts were!

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ことか – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

  • testing

    testing

    About 10 months ago

    What does that mean? It’s also on the Bunpro page, but from a quick search, neither the information section nor the examples mention either of them at all.

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