Grammar Info

N0 Lesson 2: 5/12

ん (Slang)

Slang abbreviation

Structure

Details

    About ん (Slang)

    Being the shortest sound in the Japanese language, ん is often used for abbreviation, especially in casual speech. Abbreviation with ん occurs primarily for the purpose of making part (A) and part (B) of a statement flow together more smoothly.

    In general, ん will only replace sounds that require rolling of the tongue. Thankfully, this will be easy to remember, as it is just the ら, り, る, れ, ろ sounds.

    The first common way that this ん is used is for replacing the ら negative stem in verbs where る changes to ら. Actually, even if something is not a verb, if it contains らない, it can be shortened in this way. An example of this can be seen in the い-Adjective つまらない, 'boring'.

    The second pattern where ん will be used is when it not only replaces る, but replaces the entire いる 'to be' in the ている progressive form of verbs.

    One thing that you will notice is that regardless of whether ん abbreviates らない or ている, there is always something following the ん. This will be important to learn, as this type of 'lazy' abbreviation will not have a sentence end with ん. We can remember this by remembering that the goal is to make (A) and (B) flow together, so if there is no (B), there is no need for ん.

    Fun Fact

    If you see a sentence ending in ん, and the negative stem has not been removed, it will almost always be an abbreviation of the classical-auxiliary verb ぬ, which is used in the same way as the modern ない. Rather than for ease of speech, this ん tends to sound forceful, like stating 'won't (A)', or 'don't (A)'.

    • (おれ)(なに)()らん。
      I wouldn't have a clue
    • もう一生(いっしょう)(はし)らん。
      I will never run again.
    • あいつはそんなことせん。
      He would not do something like that.

    Keep in mind that する will change to せん, not しん, due to the way that ぬ usually conjugates with する.

    Examples

    --:--

      あいつは日本語(にほんご)()ない。

      That guy doesn't understand Japanese. (slang abbreviation)

      (あか)ちゃんはみんな言葉(ことば)(しゃべ)ない。

      Toddlers don't speak words. (slang abbreviation)

      (ぼく)の15(さい)のシーズーはもう(はし)ない。

      My 15 year-old Shih Tzu doesn't run anymore. (slang abbreviation)

      材料(ざいりょう)(はか)ないでケーキを(つく)ったから失敗(しっぱい)した。

      Because I made a cake without measuring ingredients, it was stuffed up. (slang abbreviation)

      テレビの(おと)()ないからカスタマーセンターに電話(でんわ)をした。

      I made a call to the helpline because the TV doesn't make any sound. (slang abbreviation)

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