50+ Japanese Adjectives and How To Conjugate Them

When studying a brand new language, verbs and conjugations go hand in hand. However in Japanese, that’s not the one a part of speech that’s conjugated! Japanese adjectives get the previous, current, and future remedy, too. To explain individuals, climate, meals, and extra, understanding Japanese adjective conjugation is essential for clear communication. 

For a deeper understanding, put Japanese adjective and verb conjugation into observe with Rosetta Stone tutoring. You’ll be able to reinforce your information in real-time with knowledgeable language instructors, ask questions on core lesson content material, and get personalised suggestions.

How do Japanese adjectives work?

Japanese adjectives are break up into two classes: i-adjectives and na-adjectives. They’re named and recognized based mostly on how the phrase ends, much like how Japanese verbs might be referred to as u-verbs and ru-verbs.

When utilizing them, bear in mind what adjectives are. Adjectives describe nouns or noun phrases. This usually presents itself in considered one of two methods. Nouns might be preceded by an adjective, as in “a stunning chicken,” or described after the noun, as in “the chicken is gorgeous.” This isn’t to be confused with adverbs, which clarify how an motion is completed, as in “the chicken flew fantastically.”

Japanese i-adjectives

All i-adjectives finish within the Japanese character i (い), in order that they’re simple to establish. They’re additionally the commonest sort of adjective and performance most equally to English adjectives. 

Japanese na-adjectives

Japanese na-adjectives are a little bit extra distinctive. They’re also called keiyoudoushi (形容動詞), or “adjectival nouns.” The na (な) is just used when the adjective goes earlier than the noun it’s describing. The excellent news is that na-adjective conjugation is de facto simply the conjugation of the Japanese phrase for “to be,” making them simpler to make use of in a sentence.

Frequent Japanese adjectives lists

What Japanese adjectives must you study first? Phrases pertaining to each day life are place to begin. One of many commonplace phrases Japanese learners see first is the query “How are you doing?” and its reply, which each use the adjective for “wholesome” or “energetic.”

  • Ogenki desu ka?(お元気ですか?) = How are you doing? (Actually: Are you properly?)
  • Genki desu. (元気です。) = I’m doing properly.

That is however considered one of a number of adjectives it’s possible you’ll discover helpful when first beginning Japanese. Most of the adjectives beneath are good for including to your repertoire of Japanese phrases and phrases for journey!

Japanese adjectives for normal use

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish
na-adjective大変(たいへん)taihenrobust (state of affairs)

Japanese adjectives to explain objects

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish
i-adjective冷たい(つめたい)tsumetaichilly (contact)
i-adjective熱い(あつい)atsuisizzling (contact)
i-adjective安い(やすい)yasuilow cost
i-adjective高い(たかい)takaicostly; tall

Japanese adjectives to explain an individual

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish
na-adjective元気(げんき)genkiwholesome; energetic
na-adjective下手(へた)hetaunskillful; awkward
i-adjective背が高い(せがたかい)se ga takaitall
i-adjective背が低い(せがひくい)se ga hikuibrief

Japanese adjectives to explain climate and locations

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish
i-adjective寒い(さむい)samuichilly (climate)
i-adjective暑い(あつい)atsuisizzling (climate)
na-adjectiveきれい(きれい)kireistunning; clear

Grammar word: Some difficult na-adjectives, like kirei, finish in i and conjugate like regular na-adjectives. They’re few and much between however want particular consideration to make sure they’re used accurately.

Japanese adjectives to explain meals

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish

Grammar word: In English, the phrases “like” and “dislike” are verbs, however in Japanese, they’re adjectives! “Like” (suki, 好き) and “dislike” (kirai, 嫌い) are each na-adjectives, however the contradiction of them being verbs in English and adjectives in Japanese means implementing them is a bit more difficult. To maintain issues easy, all you must say is Suki desu for “I prefer it” whenever you need to inform somebody you’re keen on one thing.

>> Inquisitive about the best way to pronounce all of those adjectives? Grasp your Japanese pronunciation right here!

Methods to conjugate i-adjectives in Japanese

Like verbs, the current and future tense conjugations for Japanese i-adjectives are precisely the identical. If you happen to’re apprehensive about how laborious it’s to study Japanese, that is one side that makes Japanese a little bit simpler. Not like verbs, there is just one letter these adjectives finish in, which means the conjugation is identical throughout all i-adjectives. 

The only irregular i-adjective in Japanese is ii (いい), which suggests “good.” Primarily based on the choice phrase for good, yoi (良い), the primary i will change to yo in its conjugations. It’s also utilized in a number of compound phrases, making it a flexible adjective in Japanese.

woman giving thumbs up in selfie by castle

Current and future conjugations of Japanese i-adjectives

Technically, the dictionary type of the adjective doesn’t have to be conjugated in any respect! Relying on the place the adjective is used within the sentence and if you’re being well mannered or informal, the conjugated “to be” phrase desu might or might not be added. It’s acceptable to not use desu for those who’re having an informal dialog.

Dictionary typeAffirmative typeEnglish
小さい(ちいさい)chiisai小さいですchiisai desuis small
大きい(おおきい)ōkii大きいですōkii desuis large
古い(ふるい)furui古いですfurui desuis outdated
いいiiいいですii desuis sweet

The unfavorable type is conjugated by dropping the i on the finish of the phrase and changing it with -kunai. Desu is added if the phrase is getting used formally. You might acknowledge the -nai a part of the ending for those who’re already acquainted with Japanese verb conjugations.

Dictionary typeUnfavorable typeEnglish
小さい(ちいさい)chiisai小さくないですchiisakunai desuisn’t small
大きい(おおきい)ōkii大きくないですōkikunai desuis large
古い(ふるい)furuiくないですfurukunai desuis outdated
いいiiよくないですyokunai desuisn’t good

When utilizing adjectives in a sentence, whether or not the adjective goes earlier than or after the nouns it’s describing determines if desu is required. As a result of desu is the Japanese phrase for “to be,” it should solely seem within the conjugation itself if the adjective is on the finish of the sentence.

  • Hana wa chiisai desu. (花は小さいです。)= The flower is small.
  • Chiisai hana desu.(小さい花です。)= It’s a small flower.

Previous conjugations of Japanese i-adjectives

The previous conjugations are additionally constructed by dropping the i on the finish of the phrase and changing it with a brand new ending. For the affirmative type, that is -katta, with the non-compulsory desu.

Dictionary typeAffirmative typeEnglish
甘い(あまい)amaiかったですamakatta desuwas candy
辛い(からい)karaiかったですkarakatta desuwas spicy
新しい(あたらしい)atarashiiしかったですatarashikatta desuwas new
いいiiよかったですyokatta desuwas good

The previous unfavorable type for adjectives can be much like the plain type model for verbs. Drop the i and add -kunakatta for the previous unfavorable type of i-adjectives.

Dictionary typeUnfavorable typeEnglish
甘い(あまい)amaiくなかったですamakunakatta desuwas not candy
辛い(からい)karaiくなかったですkarakunakatta desuwas not spicy
新しい(あたらしい)atarashii新しくなかったですatarashikunakatta desuwas not new
いいiiよくなかったですyokunakatta desuwas not good

Grammar word: Quite than conjugating this kind from the dictionary type, it could assist to consider it as conjugating the current / future unfavorable type. To do that, drop the i from the current / future unfavorable type (which already consists of -kunai) and add -katta.

Methods to conjugate na-adjectives in Japanese

Na-adjective conjugations are, in reality, an extension of the “to be” conjugation. All you must do is connect the suitable conjugation of desu to the tip of the na-adjective and also you’re carried out!

じゃありません・じゃないja arimasen / ja naiisn’t
じゃありませんでした・じゃなかったja arimasen-deshita / ja nakattawas not

You’ll be able to see this within the following examples:

  • Tomodachi wa nihongo ga jōzu desu.(友達は日本が上手です。= My good friend is expert in Japanese.
  • Akachan wa shizuka ja arimasen.(赤ちゃんは静かじゃありません。)= The child isn’t quiet.

When do you utilize na in na-adjectives?

Na solely seems in na-adjectives when the adjective goes earlier than a noun. As a result of na-adjectives are already much less widespread than i-adjectives, this may be simple to neglect, however it is very important embrace.

  • Kirei na umi o mitai desu.(きれいな海を見たいです。)= I need to see a fairly ocean.
  • Taihen na mondai desu.大変な問題です。)= This can be a robust downside.

Methods to conjugate Japanese adjectives with te-form

One of many different widespread conjugations in Japanese is te-form. That is distinctive to Japanese and takes its title from the te (て) on the finish of the conjugation. With adjectives, it’s primarily used to attach them as a substitute of utilizing the particle “and.”

For i-adjectives, drop the ultimate i and add -kute. For na-adjectives, add the tetype of desu, which is de (で), to the tip of the phrase.

Dictionary typeTe-formEnglish
元気(げんき)genki元気genki dewholesome; energetic
静か(しずか)shizuka静かshizuka dequiet
きれい(きれい)kireiきれいkirei destunning; clear

Connecting adjectives utilizing te-form

Utilizing te-form with adjectives is simple and quite common. As a result of “and” isn’t used with adjectives or verbs, te-form is crucial. 

  • Sushi wa yasukute, oishii desu.(寿司は安くて、美味しいです。)= Sushi is low cost and scrumptious.
  • Nyū yōku wa urusakute, nigiyaka na tokoro desu.(ニューヨークはうるさくて賑やかなところです。)= New York is a noisy and vigorous place.

Be careful for nouns that act like adjectives in Japanese

Some phrases used to explain nouns will not be adjectives however are nouns themselves. Colours in Japanese are some of the widespread examples. The noun type of the i-adjectives beneath is identical phrase with out the i. For instance, the noun type of akai (赤い, crimson) is aka (赤).

Adjective sortJapaneseEnglish

The way in which to make use of nouns as descriptors is by together with the Japanese particle no (の). Particles are a Japanese grammar element that identifies the position the phrases round them play within the sentence. There are various particles in Japanese grammar, however the usage of no is to attribute the noun following no with the standard of the noun previous it. This works for phrases like nations, too!

  • Orenji no neko(オレンジ猫)= orange cat
  • Nihon no tsūka(日本通貨)= Japanese foreign money

Key takeaways about Japanese adjectives

Japanese adjective conjugation is a crucial a part of studying Japanese, and it’s not difficult whenever you break down adjectives into the 2 varieties. Preserve these notes in thoughts, and also you’ll conjugate Japanese adjectives with ease: 

  • The 2 forms of adjectives in Japanese are i-adjectives and na-adjectives.
  • All conjugations of i-adjectives contain dropping the ultimate i and attaching a brand new ending.
  • The phrase “to be” (desu, です) is utilized in each varieties however is just conjugated for na-adjectives.
  • Na-adjectives solely use na when previous a noun. 

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