Use of ん in questions?
I keep making mistakes in leaving out the ん in questions like "Why was it boring?" which makes me realize I still don't really understand its role.
First, is it wrong if I leave out the ん and simply say
どうして つまらなかった ですか。
How does the meaning, or the nuance, change if I put it in and say
Is it simply something one does in combination with a "why" question, or does it add extra emphasis, or...?
This is a case of nuance, where the question with ですか is objective and merely requesting an informative answer, while that with んですか is subjective and includes certain preconceptions on the speaker's part.
This also applies to affirmative sentences, where です is used for objectively delivering information, while んです subjectively conveys the information as (or with) the opinion of the speaker.
The example you gave seems like such case where the asker has the preconception that the thing being described is not supposed be boring.
Sorry Faisane, considering the discussion below with Shun, I think the information I gave you may not apply to your specific case, so please do not take it into consideration for now. I'm looking at some linguistic articles about the use of どうしてversus なぜ, and I will share any useful information I find. In the meantime, my current reply may not be the correct answer to your question.
I think that topic is not applicable to どうして〜のですか sentence. But I'm interested in the lecture. Could I see if you have some examples?
If you asking some yes/no question like these two:
A. これはおもしろいですか？ B. これはおもしろいのですか？ or これはおもしろいんですか？
I think there is some subtle difference between these two sentences. But if I ask like A, I do not expect the answer. If I ask like B, basically I doubt (in this situation) it interesting. To say,
A. Is this interesting? (I am neutral) B. (Do you think/feel) is this interesting? (I basically don't think so...)
I think there is some subtle difference between these two sentences. But if I ask like A, I do not expect the answer. If I ask like B, basically I doubt (in this situation) it interesting. To say, A. Is this interesting? (I am neutral) B. (Do you think/feel) is this interesting? (I basically don't think so...)
Yes, this is the concept we learned. An example is the use of おいしい:
タバコはおいしいんですか in this case, the sentence implied some preconception (doubt, in this case) in the speaker's mind, because they do not really think that cigarettes taste good.
Edit: Another example I found in a later paragraph:
彼女から連絡はないんですか? Here the speaker asks if they haven't heard from her, in a way that implies that they should have.
誰がそれをするいっていうんですか (rough translation: who do you think is going to do that?) implies that the speaker thinks the listener is the one who should do that thing.
I have just found this explanation with several examples: http://www.japanese-language.aiyori.org/article10.html
「どうして つまらなかったんですか。」is more natural expression than 「どうして つまらなかった ですか。」. both of correct on grammer.
In this case, 「ん」 gives this sentence to the rhythm.
Basically, Japanese language is ambiguous and abstruct,such as seems like a poetly. Japanese choose natural expression without considering, even if it is wrong the grammer.
when you talk with japanese, you will notice it!
の is a nominaliser (turns the preceding phrase into a noun), with ん being a contraction of の. (It is well explained in "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui.)
This is an entire lesson in itself but I will try to condense it into a pearl of wisdom: in the same way that the English gerund can turn a verb (e.g. "learning") into a noun (E.g. "Learning Japanese is interesting."), の/ん can do the same in Japanese for verbs and adjectives. There is more to it, though I hope this gets you over the first hurdle.
E.g. [日本語を勉強する]のが好き。(I like studying Japanese.) の turns the clause in square brackets into a "thing" that can be liked.
So, to analyse the example in your question: どうして つまらなかった の ですか。(In what way was it boring?) (Lit: What boringness was it?)
There are two kinds of 「の」. The one is a nominalizer, as you describe. We can put 「こと（事）」 instead of の. This makes a noun clause. But this situation, you cannot use ん as a contraction (or) a euphonic change.
日本語を勉強するのが好き ＝ 日本語を勉強することが好き (correct) [studying Japanese] I like, [To study Japanese] I like
But どうしてつまらなかった「の」ですか is not interchangeable with こと, such as どうしてつまらなかったことですか(incorrect), means that both 「の」s have different meanings.
In this case, Arachnje's explanation is quite good. I think it just makes preconception of the question.