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 dewaarimasen 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 August 6, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: How to Say "I Don't Understand Japanese" in Japanese Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru" Verbs of Change: Naru Children's Day in Japan and Koinobori Song Frequently Asked Questions in Introductory Japanese The Meaning of '-N Desu' in Japanese Using the Verb "Te" in Japanese Useful Japanese Verbs Useful Japanese Adjectives How to Say "Want" or "Desire" in Japanese Japanese Lesson: Particles "O" and "No" How to Use the Conditional Form "~Ba" in Japanese Useful Japanese Expressions What Does Sono Toori Desu Mean in Japanese? Ari no mama de - The Japanese Version of "Let It Go" What Does Daijoubu Mean in Japanese? What Does Iiyo Mean in Japanese?