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  5. "どうしてつまらなかったんですか?"


Translation:Why was it boring?

July 7, 2017



I didn't understand the ん after the adjective. Can I have some explanation?


んですか is for asking an explanation about something you're seeing or hearing. You usually give a corresponding explanation with んです.

つまらなかったですか。 = "Was it boring ?" - When I'm just expecting a yes or no answer.

つまらなかったんですか。 = "It was boring ?" - When you've told me it was boring and I want to know why.

だれもいなかったんです。= "Nobody was there" - For instance, giving an explanation (even spontaneously) as to why I'm coming home early.

だれもいませんでした。= "Nobody was there" - For instance, answering a question about the number of people there.

Therefore this ん is not mandatory in the sentence here, but it emphasizes that I'm reacting to you telling me it was boring.


In that case, does having どうして add any meaning? When might you omit one in favour of the other... or when would you use both?


It means "why", implying you understand that it was boring but don't know why it was boring.


wonderful explanation


What are the differences between どうして and なぜ?


I believe なぜ is more formal.


Yikes, I can't believe Duolingo casually drops んです in like this. As a side note I hate this translation, since it utterly fails to capture んです's nominalising aspect, and makes the sentence seem absolutely no different to どうしてつまらなかったですか? for people who don't already know how んです works.




Why past tense? And could it also mean that I was boring or you were boring?


The past tense is shown in the adjective conjugation, 〜かった.

Note that some other adjectives use 〜でした for past tense. There are two main groups of adjectives with different conjugations.


This is a perfect example to see how this ん works. If it was simply つまらなかった this sentence would most likely be translated as "Why were you bored?", but because of the presence of the ん in つまらなかったん this implies that you were talking about something previously, therefore transforming the sentence into "Why was it boring?"


Would "why was it boring then" be a possible translation (to honor the ん)?


In other sections つまらない is ok translated as 'not fun.' While I see why, why then is 'not interesting' unacceptable here?


Duolingo uses an answer sheet edited by humans. For one reason or another sometimes things don't make it in.


Keep reporting the missing answers with the report toll.

It might take long, but the answers are constantly updated.


could "why were you bored" be a correct answer? (I know one is an active voice, the other a passive) then, what the translation would be if not?


I think using "tsumaranai" in reference to a person is actually quite rude, and would be translated as "boring" rather than "bored" (つまらない人 tsumaranai hito is a boring person).

If I say つまらなかった (tsumaranakatta), I'm saying that something was boring, which in English can be interpreted as "I was bored", but that's necessarily the literal meaning of the Japanese. So you could interpret this sentence as "why were you bored?", but it's just that, an interpretation rather than a translation.

I think you could use "taikutsu" for your question, どうして退屈でしたか (doushite taikutsu deshita ka). Maybe.





Though note that both どうして and つまらなかった are usually written in kana only.


Ok it says that んですか makes this an 'interrogative sentence'. What the heck does that mean?


The interrogative is a grammatical mood.

Indicative mood - Describing how something is: "I am late."

Imperative mood - Expresses a command, plea or advice: "Don't be late!"

Interrogative mood - Expresses a question: "Are you late?"

Conditional mood - Expresses some action or state that is dependent on another condition being true ("if"s and "when"s): "If I am late, I will be fired."

Subjunctive mood - Expresses a hypothetical or unreal situation, like a wish, possibility, desire or an imaginary situation: "Were I to own a car, I would never be late." The subjunctive in English is more limited than in some other languages (e.g. Romance languages) and it's often combined with the conditional mood.


Put simply, it interrogates (asks a question).


Would "Why are/were you bored" be acceptable?


I keep writing Why were you bored... Would that be a different form of つまらない


If you say that a person is つまらない (tsumaranai), you're saying that they are boring.


I believe the word you are looking for is 退屈 (たいくつ), which means "tedium, boredom", and used in an intransitive way...

I do find it interesting that the dictionary entry didn't label it as a noun that can take する, but there are several example sentences with it being used as a する verb... or as a な-adjective either since it acts that way in other example sentences...


I still don't get when to use なぜ and when to use どうして


"Naze" is more formal than "doushite". Either should be fine.

From a lingQ question about whether to use doushite, naze, or nande:

Hi, I'm here for a native point of view.

As Steve said, no difference in meaning.

In a mean time, like benhenschke said, I'd use doushite or nande in casual conversation with my friends.

If I'm in more fomal situation, I'd say naze-desuka.

Above all, don't worry about it because it doesn't really matter and I'll understand you perfectly well ;)


Is it common for 'tsumanarai' to be written only in kana?



From jisho.org:


  1. dull; uninteresting; boring; tedious​ Usually written using kana alone


How come you would use the past tense of the adjective but not use でした instead of です?


Try and think of かったです as a set that means the past tense of an i-adjective. PuniPuni Japanese as a good article about conjugating adjectives.

For a more technical explanation, i-adjectives act like verbs, so if you say つまらない (tsumaranai) by itself, it carries the idea that "it is boring". です doesn't add the meaning of "is" because the i-adjective itself already carries it, so the only reason to add です is to make your speech more polite. When you say つまらなかった (tsumaranakatta), it means on its own "it was boring". If you want to be more polite, you add です. The かった shows us that the adjective is in the past tense, and the です shows us that the speaker is using polite language. It doesn't really have a grammatical function, so we don't conjugate it.


So どうして= why

んですか=explanatory tone question

つまらなかった=is this a form I don't know of boring. Like past tense. Why not i at the end and then deshita or something?


In Japanese, adjectives are conjugated like verbs, so that's a past-tense adjective. です is pretty much just there to make it more polite. IsolaCiao has already given a more detailed explanation elsewhere on the page.


I thought is was "Why was it not boring?", because of the "tsumaraNAkatta".


One of those misleading adjectives where the positive form already ends in "nai"
つまらない becomes つまらなない in negative form
つまらなかった - was boring つまらなくなかった - was not boring


In the exercise before this one, the word NAZE なぜ was first introduced.

A user asked why NAZE not DOUSHITE.

A user replied that NAZE simoly asks for a reason whereas DOUSHITE implies "why hou are doing this and not that".

But in this question clearly that is not the case.

So can anyone tell me the real difference between NAZE and DOUSHITE ?


If a user is not identifying themself as a native speaker and isn't citing a source for their claim, I would take what you read in the forums with a grain of salt.

Copied from my comment above:

From a lingQ question about whether to use doushite, naze, or nande:

Hi, I'm here for a native point of view.

As Steve said, no difference in meaning.

In a mean time, like benhenschke said, I'd use doushite or nande in casual conversation with my friends.

If I'm in more fomal situation, I'd say naze-desuka.

Above all, don't worry about it because it doesn't really matter and I'll understand you perfectly well ;)


That is cool that you can ask a question that specifies rhe kind of answer you want. English is a bit harder ro do that with, you jave to phrase the question entirely different or directly ask for an explanation usually. I wonder if Jaoanese find it very annoying if you constantly ask with Ndesuka, forcing them to constantly elaborate in detail?


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