Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: Re: adjectives
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 08:15:52 GMT
References: 1, 2, 3
> There is a temptation to assume that because the word "old" in the English sentence "Kyôto is an old town" is an adjective, its Japanese counterpart here, 古い, is also an adjective; but this temptation should be resisted. It is in fact a kind of verb and inflects accordingly: 古い means "is old" and so 古い町 is literally "a town which is old". You should have no difficulty distinguishing these verbs from other verbs because they all end in the wovel い. We shall call them "descriptive verbs".
Although translating 古い町 as "a town which is old" is correct, 古い is definitely an adjective, not a verb. The Japanese adjectives inflect according to tense, while the English ones don't. In general, adjectives in Western languages such as Latin and English are more similar to nouns, and ones in Eastern languages such as Chinese and Japanese are more similar to verbs. That depends on each language.
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