Japanese Lesson – Introduction to Adjectives

Hello Everyone!

In this lesson we are going to introduce Japanese adjectives. Let’s go!

References:

Notation:

  • ~い – syllable in い (ち, き, み…)

Introduction

To get started, let’s have a look at a few Japanese adjectives:

  • 安い (やすい) / cheap, low /
  • 高い (たかい) / expensive, high /
  • 簡単 (かんたん) / simple /
  • 難しい (むずかしい) / difficult /
  • 可愛い (かわいい) / cute, pityful /
  • 綺麗 (きれい) / pretty, clean /
  • 便利 (べんり) / convenient, useful /

What can you say about these adjectives? You want an hint? Look at the ending of each of them. What do you notice?

In Japanese there exist two type’s of adjectives. These types are:

  • い adjectives, which as you can see take an い at the end (with some exceptions though),
  • な adjectives, all the other adjectives.

い adjectives

い adjectives are Japanese adjectives which end with the letter い, with a few exceptions:

  • Every adjectives ending in ~えい are not い adjectives
    • きれい / pretty, clean /, ゆうめい / famous /…
  • Some adjectives ending in ~あい are not い adjectives:
    • きらい / dislike, hated /, しんぱい / worry, concern, assistance / aren’t い adjectives but な adjectives
    • but たかい / expansive / is an い adjective…

Note that when we say letter い, we really mean letter and not syllable in ~い:

  • げんき / healthy /, むり / unreasonnable, impossible / and all other adjectives in ~い are な adjectives, and not い adjectives!

Used as modifiers

The use of  い adjectives as modifiers is really simple. You just put the adjective before a noun to qualify this noun.

Example:

  • A cheap car
    • 安い車 (やすい くるま)
  • This is a cheap car.
    • これは安い車です。 (これ は やすい くるま です。)

Used as predicates

You can also use adjectives as predicates (somehow like in “the car is expansive”, predicate form of “an expansive car”). The qualified part is generally introduced using the {topic} particle:

  • この車は高いです。(この くるま は たかい です。) / This car is expansive /

な adjectives

As indicated above, な adjectives are adjectives not part of い adjectives, that is to say adjectives not ending in い (~あ, ~い, ~う, ~え, ~お, ~ん), adjectives in ~えい and some adjectives in ~あい.

The use of the な adjectives is slightly different from the use of い adjectives, and you will indeed discover why they are called な adjectives ^^…

Used as modifiers

When used as a modifier, that is to say, before the noun to be qualified, a な adjective is used as follows:

  • な-adjective + な + noun

Example:

  • An easy exercise
    • 簡単問題 (かんたん  もんだい)
  • This is an easy exercise.
    • これは簡単な問題です。 (これ は かんたん な もんだい です。)

Used as predicates

The use of な adjectives as predicates, on its side, is pretty basic.

Example:

  • This exercise is easy.
    • この問題は簡単です。(この もんだい は かんたん です。)

Exercises

Vocabulary:

  • Adjectives:
    • 安い (やすい) / cheap, low /
    • 簡単 (かんたん) / simple /
    • 難しい (むずかしい) / difficult /
    • 可愛い (かわいい) / cute, pityful /
    • 有名 ゆうめい / famous /
    • 静かしずか / quiet, silent /
  • Nouns
    • 車 (くるま) / car /
    • 問題 (もんだい) / exercise /
    • 人 (ひと) / person /
    • 本 (ほん) / book /
    • 公園 (こうえん) / park /
    • 子犬こいぬ / puppy /

Exercise:

Translate the following sentences, using adjectives as modifiers, and then as predicates.

  • This is a cheap car. / This car is cheap.
  • This is a simple exercise. / This exercise is simple.
  • This is a famous person. / This person is famous.
  • This is a difficult book. / This book is difficult.
  • This is a silent park. / The park is silent.
  • This is a cute puppy. / The puppy is cute.

Anime Strike, by Amazon Channels
Anime Strike, by Amazon Channels

Answers:

  • A cheap car.
    • これは安い車です。 (これ は やすい くるま です。)
  • This car is cheap.
    • この車は安いです。(この くるま は やすい です。)
  • A simple exercise.
    • これは簡単な問題です。 (これ は かんたん な もんだい です。)
  • This exercise is simple.
    • この問題は簡単です。 (この もんだい は かんたん です。)
  • A famous person.
    • これは有名な人です。 (これ は ゆうめい な ひと です。)
  • This person is famous.
    • この人は有名です。 (この ひと は ゆうめい です。)
  • A difficult book.
    • これは難しい本です。 (これ は むずかしい ほん です。)
  • This book is difficult.
    • この本は難しいです。 (この ほん は むずかしい です。)
  • A silent park.
    • これは静かな公園です。 (これ は しずか な こうえん です。)
  • The park is silent.
    • この公園は静かです。 (この こうえん は しずか です。)
  • A cute puppy.
    • これは可愛い子犬です。 (これ は かわいい こいぬ です。)
  • The puppy is cute.
    • この子犬は可愛いです。 (この こいぬ は かわいい です。)

 

Here it is for this introduction on Japanese adjectives. But this is not over yet! We will see in forthcoming lessons that adjectives can have negative forms and how they are conjugated…

またね!

Stéphane

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