Japanese Adjectives have the same function as English adjectives. They describe the state of things and people (strong, cheap, cold, etc).
When an adjective modifies a noun, we need to follow different rules for different types of adjectives. Before we get into such rules, let’s separate adjectives into the three different types.
i-Adjectives all end with い (i). For example – takai. They need to be conjugated a special way for the negative and past tense, but we will get into that later.
na-Adjectives all end with な (na) before they modify a noun. Unlike the i-Adjectives, we have to add the na on our own. For example, taisetsu is a na-Adjective and becomes taisetsu na when we use it to modify a noun.
color-Adjectives are also called no-Adjectives, and treated the same as na-adjectives. It’s a special category I will cover at the end of this lesson.
|Here is a list of common i-Adjectives and na-Adjectives. As you can see, some na-Adjectives are disguised as i-Adjectives. Let’s call them “sneaky” na-Adjectives. You will have to memorize their true identities. Don’t worry – there isn’t many!|
* Some of the “sneaky na-adjectives” posing as i-adjectives can be exposed by looking at the Hiragana rather than Romaji spelling (eg. すき does not end with い).
|i Adjectives||na Adjectives|
| だいすき |
(to have free time)
(with all one’s might)
|よい / いい |
yoi / ii
(short in length)
(cold to the touch)
Let’s apply these to our i-Adjective, takai:
Finally, let’s build some sentences using our conjugated i-Adjective:
If the adjective does not end in い(i), then it’s probably a na-Adjective. We call them na-Adjectives because we attach “na” between the adjective and noun. For example, if we want to attach kiken (dangerous) to road (michi), it will look like this:
kiken na michi
It is important to note that we are only required to change add な (na) like this if it is modifying a noun. For non-modifying adjectives (when the adjective comes after the noun), nothing changes:
kono michi wa kiken desu.
(this road is dangerous)
This next na-Adjective is placed before the noun, modifying it. Remember, we must add “na“:
koko wa shizuka na tokoro desu.
(This is a quiet place.)
I will be adding to this section soon to show you how to make na-adjectives negative!
Color adjectives can be split into Primary colors (i-Adjectives) and Non-Primary Colors (no-Adjectives):
Non-primary colors are no-Adjectives, but they are treated exactly the same way as na-Adjectives. We are required to use “no” to connect the adjective with the noun.
chairo no inu
Primary colors are i-Adjectives and are treated as such. We are familiar with i-Adjectives now so this should be easy. Primary color i-Adjectives are also flexible. We can use “no” to connect the adjective with the noun but we are not required to do so.
This table will organize the differences between how we use primary colors (i-Adjectives) and secondary colors (na-Adjectives).