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Aug 5, 2012 3:11 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
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The lessons thus far have included various Japanese sentences. It is already noticed that the sentenced structure of Japanese is different from that of English and other Latin-based languages. In English, for example, the basic sentence structure is "Subject-Verb-Object" (ex. I watch television.) In Japanese the basic structure is "Subject-Object-Verb" (Watashi wa terebi o mimasu.) Thus Japanese verbs (mimasu, okimasu) come toward the end of a sentence.

In English you can tell whether a noun is s subject or an object by its position in the sentence. If a noun comes at the beginning of sentence, it is the subject. If it comes after a verb, it is an object. In Japanese both the subject noun and object noun come before a verb. The roles of the nouns are differentiated by the use of particles (small words) that follow the word they mark. Notice, for instance, that the particle "o" marks the direct object. In the sentence: "Bangohan o tabemasu." (I eat supper.), "o" marks "bangohan" as the object of the verb "taebemasu". This chapter will give an over view of basic Japanese sentence structure in the use of noun and pronoun particles, and adjectives:

1) The particle "wa", "ga" and "o".
2) The particle "no", "ni" and "de".
3) The particle "kara" and "made".
4) The particle "e", "to" and "ya".
5) The adjective forms "i" and "na".

Again, these are basic grammatical information necessary for learning Japanese. Memorizing every point isn’t necessary; however reading and understanding every point is vital. There will be examples needed to explain basic Japanese structure. Eventually, you will find that you have a good grasp of the basic features of Japanese grammar without any deliberate memorization of rules. For a more detail interest of Japanese particles, please follow the Wikipedia Link as a study option. Because of the extensiveness of this chapter, there will be no added vocabulary; however there will be a lesson overview included in the class quiz section. *Note – Each bold type wording/phrase can be found in Audio Lesson 11.

A. Noun and Pronoun Particles ("wa" and "ga")

In Japanese, the form of a noun remains the same no matter where it appears in a sentence. Normally, every noun is followed by at least one particles when it is used in a sentence. (NOTE - There are some exception s to this rule, but only a few.) A particle joshi (助 詞) or teniwoha (てに を は), which is often not translatable, is the "tag" or "signpost" that tells what relation the world it accompanies has to another word or part of a sentence. Some particles have English equivalents. Others have functions similar to English prepositions, but sense they always follow the word or words they mare, they are post-positions. There are also particles that have a peculiar usage with is not found in English. Most particles are multifunctional.

For instance, one particle may show that the noun it follows is the subject of the sentence; another may show that the noun it follows is the object of the sentence; still another may show that the noun it follows is the modifier of another noun. Remember, however, that all particles must follow the words with which they are used. Following is a list of important noun particles with a brief description of how they are used:

1. Particle "Wa" (は)- topic of sentence.

"Wa" shows that the noun it follows is the topic of the sentence. Here the word is "topic" is deliberately employed as a contrast with the word "subject" which is often used in English grammar. A topic in Japanese - that is, a word or group of words that is followed by the particle "wa" - serves as advance notice of what the speaker is talking about. This practice of isolating a topic and setting it off with the particle "wa" is frequently used to start a sentence in Japanese, and can be compared to the occasional practice in English of beginning a sentence with "As far..." or "Speaking of..." For instance, in Japanese (saying it in English) you would say:

• "As for Mr. Yoshida, (he) came to this country again this year."
• "Speaking of this morning's New York Times, have (you) read (it)?"

Notice how a topic is first singles out and then followed by a simplified statement. Note also that a topic can be either an implied subject or an implied object of the verb, and that may even specify a time or place. Additional examples of "wa":

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Kabukiza wa Tokyo ni arimasu.
(The) Kabuki Theatre is in Tokyo. [As for the Kabuki Theatre, (it) is in Tokyo.]

Bunraku wa mimasen deshita.
I didn't see (the) Bunraku (Puppet Play). [As for the Bunraku, I didn't see (it).]

Boardman-san wa Amerika e kaerimashita.
Speaking of Mr. Boardman, he returned to America.

Kinoo wa Tanaka-san no uchi e ikimashita.
Speaking of yesterday, I went to Tanaka's house.

Watashi wa gakusei desu.
I am a student. [As for me, I am a student.]

Nihongo wa omoshiroi da.
Japanese is interesting. [Speaking of Japanese, it's interesting.]

Besides being a topic marker, "wa" is used to show contrast or to emphasize the subject. The thing being contrasted may or may not be stated, but with this usage, the contrast is implied. Also, particles such as: "ni" (に), "de" (で), "kara" (から), and "made" (まで) can be combined with "wa" (considered to be called "double particles") can also show contrast. Whether "wa" indicates a topic or contrast, it depends on the context or the intonation. Note the following examples:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Biiru wa nomimasu ga,
wain wa nomimasen.
I drink beer, but I don't drink wine.

Ano hon wa yomimasen deshita.
I didn't read that book, though I read this one.

Osaka ni wa ikimashita ga,
Kyoto ni wa ikimasen deshita.
I went to Osaka, but I didn't go to Kyoto.

Koko de wa tabako o
suwanaide kudasai.
Please don't smoke here...but you may smoke there.

2. Particle "Ga" (が) - subject of sentence.

"Ga" shows that the noun it follows is both the grammatical subject of a verb and also an "emphatic" subject. In English, you place emphasis on a subject by raising your voice. In Japanese you can create the same emphasis, usually without raising your voice, by using the particle "ga".

If you do not want to emphasize the subject, you can either introduce the subject with the topic particle "wa" or avoid mentioning it altogether. In English you always mention the subject, except when using the imperative. In Japanese you may omit specifically naming the subject when you feel that the person to whom you are speaking already knows what the subject is. Examples:

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Watashi ga ikimashita.
I (not he) {spoken with emphasis} went. [(It) was I who went.]

Tanaka-san ga kimashita.
Ms. Tanaka {spoken with emphasis} came.

Jikan ga arimasen.
There isn't time.

Taro wa gakkou ni ikimashita.
Taro went to school.

Taro ga gakkou ni ikimashita.
Taro is the one who went to school.

There are also other ways in which "ga" is used in Japanese. When a question word such as "who" and "what" is the subject of a sentence, it is always followed by "ga", never by "wa". To answer the question, it also has to be followed by "ga". "Ga" can also be used in subordinate clauses. The subject of a subordinate clause normally take "ga" to show that the subjects of the subordinate and main clauses are different.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Dare ga kimasu ka.
Who is coming?

Yoko ga kimasu.
Yoko is coming.

Watashi wa Mika ga kekkon
shita koto o shiranakatta.
I didn't know that Mika got married.

Modified by GTC, Aug 5, 2012 5:01 AM
Aug 5, 2012 3:46 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 269
B. Noun and Pronoun Particles ("o" and "no")

Listed here below are the particles "o" (を) and "no" (の). As mentioned before, particles in Japanese have a peculiar usage that are not found in English. Many are multi-functional. Notice the following information:

1. Particle "O" (を)-direct object marker.

"O" is placed after a noun, and indicates that the noun is direct object. When following the noun, "o" is the thing acted upon by the verb. It roughly corresponds to the direct object of a transitive verb. "O" usually functions as a direct object and translates to the English equivalents of "through", "from", and "past" motion verbs only.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Kippu o kaimashita.
I bought some tickets.

Tegami o dashi mashita.
I went a letter.

Kinou eiga o mimashita.
I watched the movie yesterday.

Kutsu o kaimashita.
I bought shoes.

Neko ga esa o tabeta.
The cat ate the food.

"O" can also at times take the place of "ga". Also, "suki" (好) an "na"-adjective meaning "liked", can take either "ga" or "o" particle meaning. In Japanese, there are no words that function as adjectives in a syntactic sense. However, there are words that function as adjectives in a semantic sense, as in the "na"-adjective "suki". In other words, there are words in Japanese that explains the meaning of what is being said. Adjectives in a semantic sense typically focuses on the relation between words and phrases and what they stand for. For example, with the "tai" (たい) form, meaning "want to", it is possible to say either of the following. Also take note of how "liked" is being used:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Gohan ga tabetai.
I want to eat rice.

Gohan o tabetai.
I want to eat rice.

Kimi ga suki da.
I like you.

Kimi o suki de yokatta.
I'm glad I like you.

2. Particle "O" (を)- route of motion / point of departure.

"O" also implies the notion of a place in which movements such as 'coming', 'passing', 'walking', 'running', 'swimming', 'flying', and 'departing' take place. Verbs such as 'walk', 'run', 'pass', 'turn', 'drive', 'go through', etc., take the particle "o" to indicate the route in which the movement follows. Verbs such as 'leave', 'come out', 'get off', etc., take the particle to mark the place from which one leaves. So, "o" is the thing acted upon by the verb.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Ginza Doori o aruki mashita.
We walked on Ginza Street.

Saka o hashiri mashita.
We ran on the slope.

Sora o tobu.
Fly through the sky.

Basu wa toshokan no
mae o toorimasu.
The bus passes in front of the library.

Tsugi no kado o magatte kudasai.
Please turn the next corner.

Hachi-ji ni ie o demasu.
I leave home at 8 o'clock.

Kyonen koukou o
sotsugyou shimashita.
I graduated from high school last year.

3. Particle "No" " (の) - noun modification.

"No" shows that the noun it follows modifies (i.e. explains or characterizes) another noun that comes after it. So, the noun before "no" modifies the noun after "no". This usage is similar to the possessive, but it is seen more with compound nouns or noun phrases. In some cases "no" can be used many times in a sentence. In this usage the order of nouns in Japanese is the reverse of the English structure. The normal Japanese order is from large to small, or general to specific.

Japanese Expression English Translation

Tookyoo no machi desu.
It is the city of Tokyo.

Kono hon no chosha.
The author of this book.

Nihongo no jugyou wa
tanoshii desu.
The Japanese class is interesting.

Bijutsu no hon o
sagashite imasu.
I am looking for a book on fine arts.

...Osaka daigaku no
nihongo no sensei
...a teacher of Japanese at Osaka University.

...yooroppa no kuni no namae
...the names of countries in Europe.

4. Particle "No" " (の) - possessive marker / apposition.

"No" is also most frequently used for that of possession, and translates to the English equivalent "of". So, "no" indicates ownership or attribution and can be used the same way as the English use of the "apostrophe s ('s)". In some cases the final noun can be omitted if it is clear to both speaker and listener what is being said. "No" can also link the noun to the appositive that follows. Apposition (or juxtaposition) is a grammatical construction in which two element, normally noun phrases, are placed side by side, with one element serving to define or modify the other. When the device is used, the two elements are said to be 'in apposition'. For example, in the phrase "my friend Alice", the name "Alice" is in apposition to "my friend". The particle "no" is used this way in Japanese. (The last two examples are appositions.)

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Yamada-san no uchi desu.
It is Mr. Yamada's house. [(It) is the house of Mr. Yamada.]

Tanaka-san no kodomo desu.
He is Ms. Tanaka's child. [He is the child of Ms. Tanaka.]

Kore wa watashi no hon desu.
This is my book.

Watashi no ane wa Tokyo ni sunde imasu.
My sister lives in Tokyo.

Are wa watashi no (kuruma) desu.
This is mine (my car).

Tomodachi no Keiko-san desu.
This is my friend, Keiko.


Bengoshi no Tanaka-san wa
itsumo isogashisou da.
The lawyer, Mr. Tanaka seems to be busy all the time.
Modified by GTC, Aug 5, 2012 5:03 AM
Aug 5, 2012 4:58 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 269
C. Noun and Pronoun Particle ("ni")

Listed here below is the information for the Japanese particle "ni" (に). As will be seen, "ni" is used in many ways. Do not think you have to learn them all at once, but these can be referred to as needed to get the basic sense of the particle "ni".

1. Particle "Ni"" (に) - location of existence / time.

First of all, the noun with "ni" may tell where a thing or person is[/color]. In a sense of being "in" or "at" a place. When being used this way, "ni" is coupled with verbs as "iru" (いる) - "to exist", "aru (ある)- "to exist" and "sumu" (すむ) - "to live". In using this form of location of existence, "ni" is used with various time expressions (clock time, day, month, week, and year) to indicate a specific point in time. This is also translated to the English equivalents "at", "on", or "in". The only exceptions are the expressions of time such as "today", and "tomorrow"; these do not use the Japanese particle "ni". Note the following examples of location of existence:

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Tanaka-san wa Tookyoo ni imasu.
Ms. Tanaka is in Tokyo.

Ginza wa Chuuoo-ku ni arimasu.
Ginza is in the Chuo ward (of Tokyo).

Isu no ue ni neko ga imasu.
There is a cat on the chair.

Ryoushin wa Osaka ni sunde imasu.
My parents live in Osaka.

Hachiji ni ie o demasu.
I leave home at eight o'clock.

Gogatsu mikka ni umaremashita.
I was born on May 3rd.

2. Particle "Ni" (に) - purpose for action / notion of 'per' .

"Ni" may also explain the purpose of something. The noun with "ni" may tell the purpose for which the action is performed. This use is equal to the English "for" or "in order to". "Ni" is also used with frequency expressions such as "per hour", "per day", "per person", and so on.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Nihon e benkyoo ni kimashita.
I came to Japan to study.

Eiga o mi ni itta.
I went to see a movie.

Hirugohan o tabe ni uchi ni kaetta.
I went home to eat lunch.

Ichijikan ni juu-doru haratte kuremasu.
They pay us $10 per hour.

Isshukan ni sanjuu-jikan hatarakimasu.
I work 30 hours per week.

3. Particle "Ni" (に) - indirect object marker / direct contract .

When an indirect object usually precedes a direct object, "ni" is used. In this way the noun with "ni" may tell the person or thing to which the action of the verb is directed. The is the English equivalents "to", "from", or "of". Some Japanese verbs such as "au" (あう) - "to meet" and "kiku" (きく) - "to ask" take an indirect object, though their English counterparts do not. "Ni" is also used when a motion or action is directed at or onto an object or place. The last two examples show this direct contract.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Yamada-san ni agemashite.
I gave it to Mr. Yamada.

Yoku tomodachi ni tegami o kakimasu.
I often write letters to my friends.

Kare wa watashi ni hon o kuremashita.
He gave me a book.

Eki de tomodachi ni atta.
I met my friend at the station.

Koko ni namae o kaite kudasai.
Please write your name here.

Kooto o hangaa ni kaketa.
I hung a coat on the hanger.

4. Particle "Ni" (に) - direction / source .

The noun with "ni" is used when speaking of the direction toward which a motion takes place. The English translation is similar to "to" and "toward". This indicates a destination. "Ni" also indicates an agent or a source in passive or causative verbs. The English translation is "by" or "from".

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Nara ni ikimashita.
I went to Nara.

Amerika ni okui mashita.
I sent it to America.

Rainen nihon ni ikimasu.
I'm going to Japan next year.

Kinou ginkou ni ikimashita.
I went to the bank yesterday.

Haha ni shikarareta.
I was scolded by my mother.

Tomu ni eigo o oshietemoratta.
I was taught English by Tom.

5. Particle "Ni" (に) - change / particle "e".

The noun with "ni" may tell the thing into which something changes. There is usually no English translation for this usage, however it is very similar to the word "become", or "to become". "Ni" is also interchangeable with the Japanese particle "e". (There will not be a section for the particle "E"; it is explained here. In the audio lessons, "e" will come after "made".) The Japanese particle "e" shows that the noun it follows is the direction toward which a motion takes place.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Tookyyo Daigaku no gakuseini narimashita.
I became a student at [of] Tokyo University.

Nara e ikimashita.
I went to Nara.

Amerika e okurimashita.
I sent it to America.

D. Noun and Pronoun Particle ("de")

Listed here below is the information for the Japanese particle "de" (で). As with "ni", "de" is also used in many ways. Do not think you have to learn them all at once, but these can be referred to as needed to get the basic sense of the Japanese particle.

1. Particle "De" (で) - place of action /material.

The first use of "de" signifies that the noun preceding it is the place of action. The English equivalent is "in", "at", "on". "De" can also indicate the composition of an object; the English translation of "made", "made of".

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Kyooto de kaimashita.
I bought it in Kyoto.

Depaato de kutsu o katta.
I bought shoes at the department store.

Umi de oyoida.
I swam in the ocean.

Toufu wa daizu de tsukurimasu.
Tofu is made from soybeans.

Kore wa nendo de tsukutta hachi desu.
This is a bowl made of clay.

2. Particle "De" (で) - means of action /cause.

Second, "de" can be used in the means of action. It indicates the mean, method, or instruments. In English it is translates into "by", "with", "in", "by means of", etc. "De" can also indicate a casual reason or motive for an action or occurrence. The English equivalents are "due to", "because of", "owing to", etc.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Hikooki de ikimashita.
I went by [means of a] plane.

Basu de gakkou ni ikimasu.
I go to school by bus.

Nihongo de hanashite kudasai.
Please speak in Japanese.

Kaze de gakkou o yasunda.
I was absent from school due to a cold.

Fuchuui de kaidan kara ochita.
I fell down the stairs due to carelessness.

3. Particle "De" (で) - scope /time limit.

"De" signifies that the noun preceding it is the limit to which the predicate is restricted. This is translated into the English "in", "among", "within", etc. "De" also indicates time consumed for a certain action or occurence. The English translation is "in", "within", etc.

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Nihon de ichiban takai yama desu.
It is highest mountain in Japan. [Restricting ourselves to Japan, (it) is the highest mountain.]

Kore wa sekai de ichiban ookii desu.
This is the biggest in the world.

Nihon de doko ni ikitai desu ka.
Where do you want to go in Japan?

4. Particle "De" (で) - cost /totalizing.

"De" can also be used in the form for required cost. It is translated into the English color=#330066]"for", "at"[/color], etc. In the use of totalizing, "de" is placed after a quantity, time or amount of money, and indicated an extent.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Kono hon o juu-doru de katta. .
I bought this book for $10.

Kore wa ikura de okuremasu ka.
How much would it cost to send this?

San-nin de kore o tsukutta.
Three of us made this.

Zenbu de sen-en desu.
They cost 1,000 yen altogether.
Modified by GTC, Aug 5, 2012 5:04 AM
Aug 5, 2012 5:05 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 269
E. Noun and Pronoun Particles ("kara" and "made")

Listed here below is the information for the Japanese particles "kara" (から) and "made" (まで). These particles show the actions of beginning point and ending point of motions. They can also be used together in the same sentence. Refer to this repeatedly in order to get these firm in the mind.

1. Particle "Kara" (から) - beginning point.

"Kara" shows that the noun it follows is the beginning point in space or time of an action or state. It may be followed by "no" to link two nouns. The English translation is similar to "from", "after", "because", or "since". When used for nouns in the "after" verb form, the form "-te" is used on the preceding noun. "Kara" is also used as the English equivalent "because" with nouns as adjectives and verbs. (The last two examples explain the "-te" form and the use of "because".)

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Amerika kara kimashita.
I came from America.

Nigatsu kara koko ni sunde imasu.
I have been living here since February.

Tookyoo kara kaetta.
He returned from Tokyo.

...zutto mae kara no hanashi.
...a conversation from way back.

Owatte kara, kite kudasai.
終わってから, きてください。
Please come by after finishing (after you finished).

Niku o tabenai kara, raamen wa dame da.
Because he doesn't eat meat, ramen is bad (a bad idea).

2. Particle "Made" (まで) - ending point.

"Made" shows that the noun it follows is the ending point of an action or event. It is the English translation of "up to", "by", "until", "as far as", etc. It indicates a time or place as a limit.

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Hiroshima made ikimashita.
I went as far as Hiroshima.

Juugatsu made Kyooto ni imasu.
I'll be in Kyoto until October.

Kono densha wa, Shimonoseki made ikimasu.
This train goes as far as Shimonoseki.

Kaeru made matte iru.
I'll wait until you come home.

F. Noun and Pronoun Particles ("to" and "ya")

In the last section on noun and pronoun particles, we will discuss the particles "to" (と) and "ya" (や). The particle "to" is used in many ways, but basically it translates into the English word for "and". The particle "ya" is similar to "to" in the use of listing things, however, it implies that the list given isn't complete.

1. Particle "to" (と) - complete listing / contrast .

"To" is used as being a part of a complete list by using the conjunction English equivalent "and". It only connects nouns and pronouns, never phrases and clauses. In the use of a contrast, it indicates a comparison or contrast between the two nouns. (The last example explains the contrast use of "to".)

Japanese Expression
English Translation [Lit. Translation]

Tookyoo to Kyooto to Oosaka e ikimashita.
I went to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.[These are the places I went to.]

Yamada-san to Tanaka-san to Takeda-san ga kimashita.
Tanaka, and Ms. Takeda came. [These are the people who came.]

Kutsu to boushi o katta.
I bought shoes and a hat.

Eigo to nihongo o hanashimasu.
I speak English and Japanese.

...sore to kore...
...this and that...

2. Particle "to" (と) - accompaniment / conditional .

"To" is used as a preposition to the noun. This is when it's used with whom the action of the verb is performed. The English translation is usually "together", or "with". When placed after a verb or an adjective to form a conditional term, "to" is also used. The English equivalent is "if", "when", "as soon as", etc. (The last two examples show the conditional use of the "to" particle.)

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Kanai to ikimashita.
I went with my wife.

Tanaka-san to hanashimashita.
I spoke with Mr. Tanaka

Tomodachi to eiga ni itta.
I went to a movie with my friend.

Yuki wa raigetsu Ichiro to kekkon shimasu.
Yuki is going to marry Ichiro next month.

Shigoto ga owaru to sugu uchi ni kaetta.
I went home as soon as work was over.

Ano mise ni iku to oishii sushi ga taberareru.
If you go to that restaurant, you can have great sushi.

3. Particle "to" (と) - change/result .

Another way "to" is used in connection with nouns is when the thing into which something or somebody changes. It is commonly used in the phrase"~ to naru" (~となる). This indicates that something reaches a goal or a new state. In this usage "to" is often interchangeable with "ni". Note the following examples:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Ano tatemono wa Tanaka-san nomono to narimashita.
That building became Ms. Tanaka's (property).

Nihon no daihyoo to narimashita.
She became the representative of Japan.

Daigishi to narimashita.
He became a member of Parliament.

Tsuini orinpikku no kaisai no hi to natta.
At last the opening day of the Olympics has come.

Bokin wa zenbu de hyakuman-en to natta.
The total amount of donations reached one million yen.

4. Particle "to" (と) - quotation / sumbolism .

The final way of using the "to" particle is when quoting from someone else, in any quotation phrase, and in sound symbolism. In the use of quotation, "to" is used before such verbs as "-iu(~言う)", "- omou(~思う)", "- kiku (~聞く)" to introduce a clause or a phrase. It is normally preceded by a plain from of a verb. In the use of sound symbolism, it is used after onomatopoeic adverbs. The understanding of 'onomatopoeic' refers to the property of uncountable nouns. Common occurrences include animal noises such as "oink", "meow, or "roar". Note the following examples:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Kare wa asu kuru to itta.
He said that he will come tomorrow.

Rainen nihon ni ikou to omotteiru.
I am thinking of going to Japan next year.

Umi made! - to sakenda.
"To the sea!" - he cried.

Hoshi ga kira kira to kagayaiteiru.
The stars are twinkling.

Kodomotachi wa bata bata to hashirimawatta.
The children ran around making lots of noise.

5. Particle "ya" (や) - incomplete listing.

"Ya" is used as being a part of a incomplete list by using the conjunction English equivalent "and", as the same as "to".

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Niku ya pan ya saradao tabemashita.
I ate meat, bread, and salad (and some other things).
Modified by GTC, Aug 5, 2012 7:21 AM
Aug 5, 2012 5:06 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 269
G. Common Adjective Forms

There are three types of words that can be considered to be adjectives in Japanese: 1) adjectival verbs ("i"-adjectives), 2) adjectival nouns ("na"-adjectives), and 3) attributives. Japanese adjectives differ from their English counterparts. Although Japanese adjectives have functions to modify nouns like English adjectives, they also function as verbs when used as predicates. 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 ( keiyooshi- 形容詞) have a conjugating ending (-i) which can become past or negative. They are used very much like verbs and have their own forms for present, past, future, etc. They have "plain" and "polite" forms, as do verbs. (Polite and plain forms will be discussed in the next chapter.) "I-adjectives" all end in "-i", though they never end in "-ei", (ex. "kirei" is not an i-adjective).

Example - (暑い) | atsui | "hot"
(暑い日) | Atsui hi | "a hot day"
(今日は暑いです) | Kyo wa atsui desu. | "Today is hot."

"Na"-adjectives (keiyoo-dooshi - 形容動詞) attach to a form of the copula, which then inflects. "Na"-adjectives are used very much like nouns. Unlike "i"-adjectives, they do not conjugate, or change their forms according to tense. Instead, the copula "desu" that follows na-adjectives conjugates.

Example - (変) | hen | "strange"
(変な人) | Hen na hito | "a strange person"
(彼は変だ) | Kare wa hen da. | "He is strange."

The last form of Japanese adjectives are attributives (rentaishi - 連体詞). These may only occur before nouns, not in a predicative position. They are various in derivations and world class. These are few in number and are derived from other word classes, so are not always given the same treatment syntactically.

Example - (大きな) | ookina | "big"
(大きなこと) | Ookina koto | "A big thing"

Because most adjectives in Japanese are either "i"-adjectives or "na"-adjectives, these will be the topics of the discussion in this section. However, at the end of this section, there will be a small topic on attributive Japanese adjectives.

1. I-adjectives - Verbs / Nouns Modifiers .

The examples used in this section will be for the i-adjective "expensive". Note the following example: "takai" (高い) in the sentence "takai kuruma"(高い車- expensive car) means, "expensive". "Takai" (高い) of "kono kuruma wa takai" (この車は高い - this car is expensive) 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). Below are some commonly used conjugations of the "i-adjective "takai" (expensive):

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Takai desu.
It is expensive. It will be expensive.

Takakatta desu.
It was expensive.

Takai deshoo.
It is probably expensive.

Takakatta deshoo.
It was probably expensive.

Takaku arimasen.
Takaku nai desu. I
t is not expensive.

Takaku arimasen deshita.
Takaku nakatta desu.
It was not expensive.

Takaku nai deshoo.
It is probably not expensive.

Takaku nakatta deshoo.
It was probably not expensive.

Notice how the endings differ for affirmative and negative forms (parentheses set off the adjectival root "expensive" from the ending):

1) Affirmative forms

State Tense
Japanese term

(taka) i desu

(taka)katta desu

(taka) i deshoo

Tentative Past
(taka)katta deshoo

2) Negative forms

State Tense
Japanese term / meaning

a) (taka)ku arimasen {polite}
b) (taka)ku nai desu {plain}

a) (taka)ku arimasen deshita {polite}
b) (taka)ku nakatta desu. {plain}

(taka)ku nai deshoo

Tentative Past
(taka)ku nakatta deshoo

a) Now, notice how the same forms are used for both singular and plural in all persons (I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they):

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Takai desu.
It is expensive.

Takai desu.
They are expensive.

Takakatta desu.
It was expensive.

Takakatta desu.
They were expensive.

Kashikoi desu.
You are wise.

Kashikoi desu.
She is wise.

b) Note here that the present negative and the past negavie of "i-adjectives" have two forms. The "-kunai" (くない) (present) and "-ku nakatta"(くなかった)(past) forms are used more often in colloquial conversation:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Takaku nai desu.
It is not expensive.

Hoteru wa takaku nakatta desu.
The hotel was not expensive.

Now notice how "i-adjectives" modify a noun:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

takai kuruma
expensive care

Takai kuruma desu.
It is an expensive car.

Takai kuruma ja nai desu.
It is not an expensive care.


ookii hoteru
big hotel

Ookii hoteru deshita.
It was a big hotel.

c) Following are example sentences with present and past, affirmative / negative "i"-adjectives. Also so not on the expample "Yoi desu" that both "ii" and "yoi" mean "good", but "ii" is more colloquial and more commonly used. However conjugations (such as the negative or past forms), are based on "yoi" and not "ii". Also note the "i-adjective" "furui" (old), used in the negative form is used. "Furui" describes inanimate things and not animate beings:

1) Present Affirmative forms

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Yasui desu.
It's inexpensive / cheap.

Oishii desu.
It's delicious / tasty.

Ookii desu.
It's big.

Chiisai desu.
It's small.

Ii desu. Yoi desu.
It's good / nice.

Warui desu.
It's bad.

Warui tenki desu.
It's bad weather.

Tenki wa warui desu.
The weather is bad.

Chiisai hon desu.
It's a small book.

Oooki kuruma desu.
It's a big car.

Oishii koohii desu.
It's delicious coffee.

Yasu hon desu.
It's an expensive book.

2) Present Negative forms

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Takaku nai desu.
Takaku arimasen.
It is not expensive.

Yoku nai desu.
Yoku arimasen.
It is not good.


Omoshiroku nai desu.
Omoshiroku arimasen.
It is not interesting.


Atarashiku nai desu.
Atarashiku arimasen.
It is not new.


Furuku nai desu.
Furuku arimasen.
It is not old.


Tooku nai desu.
Tooku arimasen.
It is not far.


Atsuku nai desu.
Atsuku arimasen.
It is not hot.

Tenki wa waruku nai desu.
The weather is not bad.

Kuruma wa yoku nai desu.
The car is not good.

Furui kuruma wa takaku arimasen.
The old cares are not expensive.

3) Past Affirmative forms

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Ookikatta desu.
It was big.

Atsukatta desu.
It was hot.

Atarashikatta desu.
It was new.

Yokatta desu.
It was good.

Kuruma wa takakatta desu.
The car was expensive.

Heya wa chiisakatta desu.
The room was small.

Tenki wa warukatta desu ka.
Was the weather bad?

4) Negative forms

Japanese Expression
English Translation

Takaku nakatta desu.
Takaku arimasen deshita.
It was not expensive.

Omoshiroku nakatta desu.
Omoshiroku arimasen deshita.
It was not interesting.

Ooikiku nakatta desu.
It was not big.

Kuruma wa ookiku nakatta desu.
The car was not big.

Koohii wa oishiku nakatta desu.
The coffee was not tasty.

Hoteru wa yoku nakatta desu.
The hotel was not good.

Resutoran wa yoku nakatta desu.
The restaurant was not new.

2. Na-adjectives - Commonly used conjugations .

They are called "na"-adjectives because "-na" marks this group of adjectives when directly modifying noun (e.g. yuumeina gaka). Unlike "i"-adjectives, "na"-adjectives cannot be used as predicates themselves; meaning that they do not conjugate or change their forms according to tense. 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 its form to express the past tense, the negative, and the affirmative.

a) Below are some sentences with "na"-adjectives. Notice that the sentence patterns are just like those with nouns.

Japanese Expression
English Translation


Shizuka desu.
It is quiet.

Shizuka deshita.
It was quiet.

Shizuka deshoo.
It is probably quiet.

Shizuka datta deshoo.
It was probably quiet.

Shizuka {ja / dewa}arimasen.
Shizuka {ja / dewa} nai desu.
It is not quiet.

Shizuka {ja / dewa}arimasen deshita.
Shizuka {ja / dewa} nakatta desu.
It was not quiet.

Shizuka {ja / dewa} nai deshoo.
It is probably not quiet.

Shizuka {ja / dewa} nakatta deshoo. I
t was probably not quiet.

pretty / clean

Kirei ja arimasen.
It is not pretty / clean.


Fukuzatsu ja arimasen.
It is not complicated.

Fukuzatsu dewa nakatta desu.
It was not complicated.

Kono mondai wa fukuzatsu desu.
This problem is complicated.

Shigoto wa fukuzatsu ja nai desu.
This job is not complicated.


Yamada-san wa shinsetsu desu.
Mr. Yamada is kind.

Tanaka-san wa shinsetsu deshita.
Ms. Tanaka was kind.

simple / brief

Kantan deshita.
It was simple / brief.

Shigoto wa kantan deshita.
The job was simple.

b) "Na"-adjectives modifying a now. "Na"-adjectives are used with "na" before a noun. Notice the examples:

Japanese Expression
English Translation

shizuka na appato
quiet apartment

kirei na shashin
pretty photograph

fukuzatsu na mondai
complicated problem

shinsetsu na sensei
kind teacher


na mono important thing


genki na kodomo
heallthy child


rippa na tatemono
magnificent building

easy / comfortable

raku na shigoto
easy task

Kantan na setdumei deshita.
It was a brief explanation.

Taisetsu na mono ja nai desu.
It is not an important thing.
Modified by GTC, Aug 5, 2012 7:12 AM
Aug 5, 2012 7:16 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 269
*Answers are in my blog.*

Quiz 1 - Matching

1. Takai desu.
2. Omoshiroku nai desu.
3. Yoi hoteru desu.
4. Ii kuruma ja nai desu.
5. Yokatta desu.
6. Ii eiga deshita.
7. Takai deshoo.
8. Takakatta deshoo.
9. Oishii desu.
10. Kirei desu.

a. It's not a good car.
b. It's delicious
c. It was good.
d. It is probably expensive.
e. It was probably expensive.
f. It's a good hotel
g. It is pretty
h. It is expensive
i. It's not interesting.
J. It was a good movie.