Adjectives part 1

Types of Japanese adjectives and な-adjectives

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Outline

KanjiVocabularyAdjectives part 1

Kanji

Origin, Beginning

Air, Mood, Spirit

Like, Fond

Sky, Empty, Void

Sea, Ocean

Vocabulary

元気

Energetic, Healthy

好き

Liked, Favourite

きれい

Beautiful, Pretty, Clean

Sky

Sea, Ocean

空気

Air, Atmosphere

おじいさん

Grandfather, Old man

おばあさん

Grandmother​, Old woman

Adjectives part 1

Previously in Beginner Lesson 1 you learned how to form basic sentences by using です. Now we will learn how to make these sentences more descriptive through the addition of adjectives. Adjectives are a type of word which explain the nature or condition of an item e.g. big, tall, cheap, beautiful. Adjectives can be used in two main ways: to modify a noun, or by themselves.

In Japanese, there are two types of adjectives: な-adjectives and い-adjectives. They are called this as and are the last syllables of the adjective when it is used to modify a noun. Both types of adjectives have the same four standard forms (past affirmative, past-negative, non-past affirmative, non-past negative) as です. This lesson will cover な-adjectives and the following lesson will cover い-adjectives.

な-adjectives

な-adjectives have foreign language origins such as Chinese or English. Let's take a look at the dictionary form (how the word would be displayed in a dictionary) of some な-adjectives:

  • きれい : Beautiful/clean
  • き : Favourite
  • 元気げんき:Energetic

Noun Modification

When な-adjectives are used to modify nouns, the adjective takes the dictionary form with an additional at the end.

  • きれいな空気くうき
  • Clean air
  • わたしきなそら
  • My favourite sky
  • 元気げんきなおじいさん
  • Energetic old man

Forms

In the previous lesson we covered です and it's four standard forms. The table below shows a quick recap of this:

Tense\PolarityAffirmativeNegative
Non-pastですじゃないです
Pastでしたじゃなかったです

To change forms of な-adjectives, we can simply use the dictionary form together with the appropriate です form from above. Let's take a look below using the な-adjective of 元気げんき:

Tense\PolarityAffirmativeNegative
Non-past元気です元気じゃないです
Past元気でした元気じゃなかったです

Examples

Here are some example sentences which show the same adjective being used by itself and then again to modify a noun. Remember, you only need to add the to the end of the adjective when it is being used to modify a noun.

  • うみはきれいです。
  • The sea is beautiful.
  • きれいなうみです。
  • This is the beautiful sea.
  • 私のおばあさんは元気げんきじゃなかったです。
  • My grandmother was not healthy.
  • 私のおばあさんは元気げんきひとじゃなかったです。
  • My grandmother was not a healthy person.
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