7.5. Adjectives


7.5.1. Nonpast forms


English adjectives are more similar to nouns than to verbs, and they require the copula be to become predicators. On the other hand, Japanese adjectives are more similar to verbs, and they don't need a copula. They have inflection like verbs.

All Japanese adjectives end with the hiragana (i) "i" if they are in the nonpast form. An adjective consists of a stem and a suffix as verbs do, and the stem never changes while suffixes can change. The final /i/ in the nonpast form of an adjective is the suffix, and the rest is the stem. Please note that the suffix for the nonpast form of verbs is /u/, and that of adjectives is /i/.

Here are some adjectives:

AdjectiveStemSuffixMeaning
(yo)(i)
yoi
yo -i is good
(a)(tu)(i)
atui
atu is hot
(u)(re)(si)(i)
uresii
uresi is glad
(o)(i)(si)(i)
oisii
oisi is tasty

Since adjectives always end with the hiragana (i), the stem of an adjective always ends with a vowel. Japanese adjectives are similar to verbs, so you can consider them to be a combination of the copula be and an adjective in English.

These are examples of adjectives:

Kana: (su)(si)(ha)    (o)(i)(si)(i) (period)
Romanization: Susiwa oisii.
Structure: noun
(sushi)
topic
marker
adjective
(is tasty)
Meaning:Sushi is tasty.

Kana: (ki)(mo)(no)(ha)    (u)(tu)(ku)(si)(i) (period)
Romanization: Kimonowa utukusii.
Structure: noun
(kimono)
topic
marker
adjective
(is beautiful)
Meaning:Kimonos are beautiful.



7.5.2. Past forms


Add the suffix (ka)(small tu)(ta) "-katta" to the stem of an adjective to create its past form.

Nonpast formPast form
AdjectiveMeaningAdjectiveMeaning
(yo)(i)
yoi
is good
(yo)(ka)(small tu)(ta)
yokatta
was good
(a)(tu)(i)
atui
is hot
(a)(tu)(ka)(small tu)(ta)
atukatta
was hot
(u)(re)(si)(i)
uresii
is glad
(u)(re)(si)(ka)(small tu)(ta)
uresikatta
was glad
(o)(i)(si)(i)
oisii
is tasty
(o)(i)(si)(ka)(small tu)(ta)
oisikatta
was tasty

This is an example of the past form of adjectives:

Kana: (su)(si)(ha)    (o)(i)(si)(ka)(small tu)(ta) (period)
Romanization: Susiwa oisikatta.
Structure: noun
(sushi)
topic
marker
adjective
(was tasty)
Meaning:The sushi was tasty.



7.5.3. Polite forms


Adjectives don't have a politeness suffix like verbs' politeness suffix (ma)(su) "masu", so you have to add the polite copula (de)(su) "desu" to the end of an adjective in order to make it polite. Make the past form of an adjective first, then add (de)(su) "desu" to it to make its polite past form.

Examples:

Kana: (su)(si)(ha)    (o)(i)(si)(i)(de)(su) (period)
Romanization: Susiwa oisiidesu.
Structure: noun
(sushi)
topic
marker
adjective
(is tasty)
suffix
(polite mode)

Kana: (su)(si)(ha)    (o)(i)(si)(ka)(small tu)(ta)(de)(su) (period)
Romanization: Susiwa oisikattadesu.
Structure: noun
(sushi)
topic
marker
adjective
(was tasty)
suffix
(polite mode)

The polite past-form adjectives don't end with (ta) "ta" because of the politeness suffix. Making the polite form before making the past form is not allowed for adjectives, which would produce (o)(i)(si)(i)(de)(si)(ta) "oisiidesita" in the case of the second example shown above.


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Copyright(C) TAKASUGI Shinji (ts@sf.airnet.ne.jp)