Languages › Japanese All About Japanese Adjectives How to understand the differences in Japanese adjectives Share Flipboard Email Print Getty Images Japanese Essential Japanese Vocabulary History & Culture Japanese Grammar By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated February 28, 2020 There are two distinct types of adjectives in Japanese: i-adjectives and na-adjectives. I-adjectives all end in "~ i," though they never end in "~ ei" (e.g. "kirei" is not considered an i-adjective.) Japanese adjectives differ significantly from their English counterparts (and from their counterparts in other Western languages). Although Japanese adjectives have functions to modify nouns like English adjectives, they also function as verbs when used as predicates. This is a concept that will take some getting used to. For example, "takai（高い）" in the sentence "takai kuruma （高い車）" means, "expensive". "Takai（高い）" of "kono kuruma wa takai （この車は高い）" means not just "expensive" but "is expensive". When i-adjectives are used as predicates, they may be followed by "~ desu（～です）" to indicate a formal style. "Takai desu （高いです）" also means, "is expensive" but it is more formal than "takai （高い）". Here are lists of common i-adjectives and na-adjectives. Common I-Adjectives atarashii新しい new furui古い old atatakai暖かい warm suzushii涼しい cool atsui暑い hot samui寒い cold oishiiおいしい delicious mazuiまずい bad tasting ookii大きい big chiisai小さい small osoi遅い late, slow hayai早い early, quick omoshiroi面白い interesting, funny tsumaranaiつまらない boring kurai暗い dark akarui明るい bright chikai近い near tooi遠い far nagai長い long mijikai短い short muzukashii難しい difficult yasashii優しい easy iiいい good warui悪い bad takai高い tall, expensive hikui低い low yasui安い cheap wakai若い young isogashii忙しい busy urusaiうるさい noisy Common Na-Adjectives ijiwaruna意地悪な mean shinsetsuna親切な kind kiraina嫌いな distasteful sukina好きな favorite shizukana静かな quiet nigiyakanaにぎやかな lively kikenna危険な dangerous anzenna安全な safe benrina便利な convenient fubenna不便な inconvenient kireinaきれいな pretty genkina元気な healthy, well jouzuna上手な skillful yuumeina有名な famous teineina丁寧な polite shoujikina正直な honest gankona頑固な stubborn hadena派手な showy Modifying Nouns When used as modifiers of nouns, both i-adjectives and na-adjectives take the basic form, and precede nouns just like in English. I-Adjectives chiisai inu小さい犬 small dog takai tokei高い時計 expensive watch Na-Adjectives yuumeina gaka有名な画家 famous painter sukina eiga好きな映画 favorite movie I-Adjectives as Predicates As mentioned above, adjectives in Japanese can function like verbs. Therefore, they conjugate just like verbs (but probably much more simply). This concept can be confusing for first-time students of the Japanese language. Informal Present Negative: Replace the final ~ i with ~ ku nai Past: Replace the final ~ i with ~ katta Past Negative: Replace the final ~ i with ~ ku nakatta Formal Add ~desu to all of the informal forms. There is also a variation in the formal negative forms.* Negative: Replace ~i with ~ku arimasen* Past Negative: Add ~ deshita to ~ku arimasen These negative forms are considered slightly more polite than others. Here is how the adjective "takai (expensive)" is conjugated. Informal Formal Present takai高い takai desu高いです Present Negative takaku nai高くない takaku nai desu高くないですtakaku arimasen高くありません Past takakatta高かった takakatta desu高かったです Past Negative takaku nakatta高くなかった takaku nakatta desu高くなかったですtakaku arimasen deshita高くありませんでした There is only one exception to the rule of i-adjectives, which is "ii (good)". "Ii" derives from "yoi," and its conjugation is mostly based on "yoi". Informal Formal Present iiいい ii desuいいです Present Negative yoku nai良くない yoku nai desu良くないですyoku arimasen良くありません Past yokatta良かった yokatta desu良かったです Past negative yoku nakatta良くなかった yoku nakatta desu良くなかったですyoku arimasen deshita良くありませんでした Na-Adjectives as Predicates These are called na-adjectives because "~ na" marks this group of adjectives when directly modifying nouns (e.g. yuumeina gaka). Unlike i-adjectives, na-adjectives cannot be used as predicates themselves. When a na-adjective is used as a predicate, the final "na" is deleted and followed by either "~ da" or "~ desu (in formal speech)". As with nouns, "~ da" or "~ desu" changes the word's form to express the past tense, the negative and the affirmative. Informal Formal Present yuumei da有名だ yuumei desu有名です Present Negative yuumei dewa nai有名ではない yuumei dewa arimasen有名ではありません Past yuumei datta有名だった yuumei deshita有名でした Past negative yuumei dewa nakatta有名ではなかった yuumei dewa arimasen deshita有名ではありませんでした Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Abe, Namiko. "All About Japanese Adjectives." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/all-about-japanese-adjectives-4058703. Abe, Namiko. (2020, August 26). All About Japanese Adjectives. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-japanese-adjectives-4058703 Abe, Namiko. "All About Japanese Adjectives." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-japanese-adjectives-4058703 (accessed January 23, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: How to Say "I Don't Understand Japanese" in Japanese Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru" How to Use the Conditional Form "~Ba" in Japanese Ari no mama de - The Japanese Version of "Let It Go" Verbs of Change: Naru The Extended Use of the Verb "Suru" Children's Day in Japan and Koinobori Song Frequently Asked Questions in Introductory Japanese Using the Verb "Te" in Japanese The Meaning of '-N Desu' in Japanese Useful Japanese Verbs Useful Japanese Adjectives How to Say "Want" or "Desire" in Japanese Japanese Lesson: Particles "O" and "No" Useful Japanese Expressions What Does Sono Toori Desu Mean in Japanese? What Does Daijoubu Mean in Japanese?