Adjectives and adverbs


There are two forms of adjectives:


-adjectives (i-adjectives)

-adjectives (na-adjectives)


adjs are always listed in the dictionary as ending in

adjs typically end in anything but (although there are few exceptions).

Na-adjectives are listed as (adj-na) in the JWPce dictionary, while i-adjectives are just (adj)



-adjectives (i-adjectives)

痛い いたい (itai) – Painful

暑い あつい (atsui) – Hot

寒い さむい (samui)  -- Cold (in reference to the weather)

冷たい(つめたい(tsumetai) – Cold (in reference to e.g. drinks, food, attitudes)

眠い ねむい (nemui) – Sleepy

下らない くだらない(kudaranai) -- good for nothing, stupid, trivial

嫌い きらい (kirai) – hated / to hate


Some colors are adjs

白い (しろい) (shiroi) – white

黒い (くろい) (kuroi) – black

青い (あおい) (aoi) – blue

赤い (あかい) (akai) – red


-adjectives (na-adjectives)

馬鹿 (ばか) (baka) – stupid

無理 (むり) (muri) – impossible

暇  (ひま) (hima) – free (to have free time) / to be bored

綺麗 きれい(kirei) – pretty / clean*

好き (すき) (suki) – likeable

  いや (iya) – disagreeable, unpleasant


Some colors are adjs

緑  みどり(midori) – green

黄色 (きいろ)(kiiro) – yellow

茶色 (ちゃいろ)(chairo) – brown

紫  (むらさき)(murasaki) – purple


* -- An exception: this word ends in i when written in hiragana, but this ‘i' is really a long ‘e’ sound (‘kiree’), and therefore it counts as a na adjective and not an i adjective.

Most adjective i adjectives. However, most foreign adjectives that have been imported into Japanese are na-adjectives (e.g. ロマンチック (romantikku) – romantic)


Using adjectives


Adjectives are placed in the same way that they are in English –

i.e. before a noun: “This is a blue car.”

Or after the noun: “This car is blue.”


i-adjectives do not change when used in this form.


青い車です。 (Aoi kuruma desu) : A blue car.

車は青いです。(Kuruma wa aoi desu) : The car is blue.


(Side note: You may have noticed that the ‘ha’ hiragana character was used instead of the ‘wa’ character in the chart. This is standard whenever ‘wa’ is a particle. More on this in the last chapter on sentence construction.)


However, na-adjectives take a –na when they precede a noun, but not otherwise:


綺麗女です。 (Kirei na onna desu) : A pretty girl.

女は綺麗です。 (Onna wa kirei desu) : The girl is pretty. [Note: No –na!]


(In practice, the na is occasionally dropped, such as with colors preceding a noun, but in theory, the na should be there.)


Negative adjectives

Or: How to say: “I’m not stupid!”


When converting an adjective to its negative form (“not [adj]”):

Impolite form: i-adj: the i is converted to ku, and ‘nai’ is added.

Polite form: Use arimasen instead of nai.

[adj] + く + ない / ありません


嫌くない : Don’t dislike. (Impolite)

嫌くありません : Don’t dislike (Polite)



Impolite form: ‘ja nai’ is added (no na)

Polite form (spoken): use ‘arimasen’ instead of nai

Polite form (in writing): use ‘dewa arimasen’ instead of ‘ja nai


[adj] + じゃない


好きじゃない : Don’t like. (Impolite)

好きじゃありません : Don’t like (Polite; spoken)

好きでわありません : Don’t like (Polite; written)


(Side note:

Arimasen’ is the standard polite form of ’Nai’.

Dewa’ is the standard polite form of ‘Ja’.


This is true for nouns as well, which will be covered in the following chapter.)



Adverbs are simple.


To convert an adj into an adverb:

[i-adj]  + く 

[na-adj] +


e.g. i-adjectives:

·         早く してください (Hayaku shitekudasai): Please do (this) quickly.

早く – Quickly

してください – From する (verb: to do) à te form + kudasai = Please do …


·         暑く なる (Atsuku naru): It becomes hot / It will become hot.

なる – To become (impolite, future / present tense).


e.g. na-adj:

·         暇に なる (Hima ni naru): To become free / to get free time.


·         馬鹿に しないでください (Baka ni shinai de kudasai): Please do not be stupid.

しないでください: する (verb: to do) à negative (nai) form à + de kudasai = Please do not…




Between 2 objects


To say ‘A is more hot than B’, one changes the sentence, not the adjective in question. (Therefore, i-adjs will retain their i, while na-adjs will appear in their basic form – i.e. sans na)


1. A no hou ga [adjective] desu: A is more [adjective].

2. A no hou ga B yori [adjective] desu: A is more [adjective] than B. / B is less [adjective] than A.



i-adj: A no hou ga kirai desu: I hate A more.

na-adj: A no hou ga B yori hima desu: A is more free than B / B is less free than A.


Note that sentence order doesn’t matter:

“B yori A no hou ga [adjective] desu” is the same as sentence 2.


no hou ga … yori (or vice versa) puts equal emphasis on both A and B. It practically says A is more … than B and B is more … than A.


To emphasize either A or B, use ‘wa’ instead. More on this in sentence construction, but for now, ‘wa’ turns whatever precedes it into the subject of the sentence.



A wa B yori [adjective] desu: A is more [adjective] than B.

B wa A no hou ga [adjective] desu: B is less [adjective] than A.


This can get confusing, because for A is more [adj] than B, we still have ‘yori’ in the sentence, which loosely translates into ‘less than’,  if you’re thinking in English. It’s important to remember that ‘no hou ga’ or ‘yori’ refers to the noun just before it, which may not be the subject of the sentence. It would probably help to read it backwards:


i.e. B yori = B less than

A wa = A.

Therefore, B is less than A.

Therefore, A is more than B.


At least, that’s the way I’ve always remembered it. ^^


Question form: “Which is more [adj], A or B?”


A to B to dochira no hou ga [adj] desu ka?



[Correct me on the second ‘to’ if I’m wrong. This is the problem of trying to actively think about what has become unconscious without your notes. -_-]


Between three or more objects


Three objects is easy.


一番:(いちばん):The most


Therefore, “I like A the most”

A ga ichiban suki desu.

A が一番すきです。


For the complete sentence: “I like A the most out of A and B and C (and D and E…)”

A to B to C (to D to E…) no naka de, A ga ichiban suki desu.





Question form: “Which is more [adj], A or B or C or..”


A to B to C no naka de, dore ga ichi ban [adj] desu ka?








-adjectives (i-adjectives)

-adjectives (na-adjectives)


End with i

End with everything else.

Before a noun:

[i adj] + noun

[na adj] + na + noun

After a noun:

Noun + wa + [i adj]

Noun + na + [na adj]


[I adj] i + ku + nai  (impolite)

[I adj] i + ku + arimasen (polite)

[na adj] + ja nai (impolite)

[na adj] + ja arimasen (polite)

[na adj] + dewa arimasen (polite)


[I adj] i + ku + verb

[na adj] + ni + verb


Between 2 obj

A no hou ga B yori [adj] desu.

A is more [adj] than B; B is less [adj] than A.

Question form

A to B to dochira no hou ga [adj] desu ka.

Which is more [adj], A or B?


Between >2 obj

A to B to C no naka de, A ga ichiban [adj] desu.

Between A and B and C, A is the most [adj].

Question form

A to B to C no naka de, dore ga ichiban [adj] desu ka.

Between A and B and C, which is the most [adj]?




1. All things that end in –nai conjugate like an i-adj


Therefore, if you want to say: “Becomes not cold”, it would be


Samu ku na ku naru.


2. Tsukareta

”I’m tired” is a verb.


疲れる つかれる: To get tired.

Therefore, I’m tired = the past tense of tsukareru = tsukareta.


Standard usage:


I’m tired = Tsukareta.

He’s tired = Ano otoko no hito ga tsukareta. / Kare ga tsukareta. (Very informal.)

[Someone correct me if I’m wrong on the latter. Suddenly, I can’t recall every having seen it being used like that.]


Polite = Tsukaremashita / Tsukaretan desu.




Questions? Comments? What to find out how to say something? Go here.

Previous chapters: Preliminaries | Verbs 1