japanese adjectives

Learn Japanese Grammar: How to Use Japanese Adjectives

japanese adjectives

Verbs and nouns are vital to form a sentence, but if you want to add some color, you also need adjectives. Here, Ann Arbor, MI teacher Elaina R. shows you how to use Japanese adjectives…

Adjectives are descriptive words.

The stove is hot.

The blue sky turned black.

I am confused.

We use tons of adjectives in our everyday speech. If you’re learning Japanese, learning to use adjectives is a must. Luckily, using adjectives in Japanese is pretty darn easy.

There are only two main types of Japanese adjectives, and they act very similar to English adjectives.

“I” – Adjectives

These adjectives end with (you guessed it) the letter “i”.

You can use them exactly like adjectives in English:

  • kawaii (かわいい)-  cute
  • kawaii neko (かわいい猫) –  cute cat

Here’s another example:

  • yasui(やすい) –  cheap
  • yasui yōfuku (安い洋服) –  cheap clothes

“Na”- Adjectives

“Na” – adjectives end with pretty much anything except for “i,” for example, hen is a Japanese adjective that means “weird”.

There is one exception: adjectives that end in -ei (えい)are “na” – adjectives, not “i” – adjectives.

How are “na” – adjectives constructed differently? You have to add – na after the adjective to connect it to the rest of the sentence:

kirei (きれい)-  pretty OR clean
kirei na yama (きれいな山) – pretty mountain

Here’s another example:

shizuka (静か)- quiet
shizuka na hito (静かな人)- quiet person

Using Japanese Adjectives


Using adjectives in present tense is very easy in Japanese. For exclamations, you can just use the simple conjugations that we learned above.

kawaii neko! (かわいい猫!) – “What a cute cat!”
yasui yōfuku! (安い洋服!) – “What cheap clothes!”

Sometimes, just one word will suffice:

kirei! (きれい!) – “It’s so pretty!”


When you’re not so overwhelmed with emotion that you need exclamations, use a normal sentence.

All you have to do is tack the right ending onto the noun.

Japanese adjectives

Predicative Adjectives

Predicative adjectives go at the end of the sentence:

That’s a cute cat (attributive adjective)
The cat is cute (predicative adjective)

Creating a sentence like this in Japanese is pretty easy. All you have to do is add the verb “is,” which in this case is “ga” (が).

japanese adjectives

Sorry, Not An Adjective

Are you wondering how to say “I’m hungry” or “I’m thirsty”? In Japanese, we say “my stomach is empty” rather than “I’m hungry.” There’s no single adjective that means “hungry,” and the same goes for “thirsty.”

onaka suita (お腹空いた) – (stomach empty)  –  “I am hungry”
nodo kawaita (喉乾いた) –  (throat dry) –  “I am thirsty”

Remember, too, that Japanese sentences don’t require a subject. So the same sentence can mean a lot of different things, which is very convenient for Japanese language learners.

japanese adjectives

Fun, Descriptive, Hungry Adjectives

Adjectives lend lots of color and personality to speech. By using adjectives in Japanese, you can take your language skills to the next level.

Memorize some common adjectives and ask your Japanese teacher for extra help, if you need it. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert on Japanese adjectives!

Japanese adjectives

Elaina RPost Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches singing in Ann Arbor, MI. She is acquainted with many languages and speaks English, Japanese, Italian, and German. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California, and she is currently working on her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Elaina here!

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