2 types of Adjectives

There are two types of adjectives in Japanese to describe people and things; the adjectives end in い and な. Both of them modify the nouns that follow.

Adjective + Noun = Modified Noun

い Adj, あかい: あかい + りんご = あかいりんご (red apple)

(i) Adj, akai: akai + ringo = akai ringo

な Adj, しずか: しずか + うみ = しずかなうみ (quiet ocean)

(na) Adj, shizuka: shizukana + umi = shizukana umi

Adjective + Noun

い adjective can describe nouns as a plain form (a dictionary form).

い Adjective Adjective + Noun English
あおい あおいそら blue sky
きいろい きいろいひまわり yellow sunflower
くろい くろいねこ black cat
しろい しろいかべ white wal
おおきい おおきいうち big house
ちいさい ちいさいくつ small shoes
たかい たかいビル tall building
ふるい ふるいほん old book
ながい ながいかみ⁺ long hair
おいしい おいしいケーキ delicious cake
はやい はやいくるま fast car
かわいい かわいいあかちゃん cute baby

⁺ かみ (kami) can be 髪 (hair) or 紙 (paper) depending on the context.

な adjectives need な(na) added to the plain form of adjective before you combine with the nouns.

な Adjective Adjective + Noun English
きれい きれいドレス beautiful dress
ゆうめい ゆうめいえいが famous movie
しんせつ しんせつひと kind person
ていねい ていねいことば polite word
げんき げんきこども active child
かんたん かんたんゲーム easy game

【Practice】Use any of the adjective on the table (or come up with new one) and make the adjective + noun combination of your choice in Japanese. Please share with other users in the comment.

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November 21, 2017


Thank you so much, HelpfulDuo. This guide keeps getting better and better.
If I may make a suggestion, could you also add the topic of Classifiers to your list? Thank you.

November 21, 2017
  • 1494

So, if い is pronounced i as in き or the prolonged きい, then we don't add な? For other adjectives, just add な?

おいしい + いか (delicious squid)?

November 22, 2017

おいしい + いか (delicious squid) = おいしい いか is correct!

い-Adjective and な-Adjective are just the category names to call the group of Adjectives. They change forms (conjugate) in the different patterns. な-Adjectives end with ~だ (da) in the direct affirmative sentences, such as げんきだ (genki da)。きれいだ (kirei da)。But there're always exceptions as well.

In Japan, な-Adjective has a totally different name called 形容動詞 (けいようどうし): literally means "adjective verb", but it really works as "adjectival noun." Grammatical naming can be confusing, so it's best to stick with actual words and phrases and try to make sense in your mind what they mean. Practice, practice!

November 22, 2017

Hi, Helpful Duo,

Would there be a better word than "adjective verb" to call it?

I don't know how but "adjective verb" can be quite misleading, because they are adjectives after all! "verb adjectives" perhaps? or "conjugating adjectives"? I usually stick with na-type adjectives as they are taught to foreign learners.

November 23, 2017

I agree with you. In fact, some scholars are rejecting the term 形容動詞 (けいようどうし), because the meaning of the word is not reflecting the actual part of speech. The best description would be "nominal adjective"(名詞的形容詞 めいしてき けいようし). However, unless the government decide to change the naming, that's how the school children learn the Japanese grammar. :(

November 27, 2017
  • 1494

Good to know! Also thank @Karmagith. (don't know why I can't see your comment, only by email notification)

November 22, 2017

I think it's helpful to understand that な-Adjectives are merely nouns used to modify other nouns. Since they aren't verbs, they cannot be conjugated (they need the particle -だ, like other nouns).

On the other hand, い-Adjectives are actual verbs used to modify nouns (similar to the english word ''spoken'' in ''spoken words'' - here, the verb ''spoken'' is being used as an adjective), therefore they can be conjugated.

November 25, 2017


November 22, 2017

heheeeehee! >_<'

November 22, 2017
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