Master Japanese Adjective Conjugations With This Handy Guide!

Adjective conjugations are a part of Japanese that can be very confusing, particularly to westerners who have never hear of such a thing. Certainly the concept is foreign, so let’s see if we can get a handle on how these conjugations work.

First off, let’s just quickly cover the two types of adjectives: -い and -な adjectives. We know the basic uses of each in that when they are used to modify nouns, we place them before nouns just like in English. For -い adjectives, we leave them as-is, and for -な adjectives, we have to use -な before the noun. Pretty straightforward, yes? But when they are being used in the predicate, they have to be dealt with in a whole different way – conjugations.

Now, let’s start with -い adjectives. Just like with verbs, we have conjugations that are non-past (present and future) and past. Within those, we conjugate to reflect negative, and we do it both formally and informally because Japanese is just that way. 

AdjectivesInformalFormal
Non-PastNormal with no changeSame as informal and add です to the end
Non-Past NegativeDrop the – and add

くない

Same as informal +です OR

Drop the – and add –くありませ

PastDrop the and add

かった

Same as informal and add です to the end
Past NegativeDrop the – and add

くなかった

Same as informal +です OR

Drop the – and add –くありませでした

 

Let’s try an example using “fast”: はやい

はやいInformalFormal
Non-Pastはやはやいです
Non-Past Negativeはやくないはやくないです OR

はやくありません

Pastはやかったはやかったです
Past NegativeはやくなかったはやくなかったですOR

はやくありませんでした

 

 

The great thing about Japanese is that there are very few irregulars. In the case of adjectives, there’s only one: “good”. We know it as いい, but it conjugates as よい. Therefore, it works like this:

いいInformalFormal
Non-Pastいいいいです
Non-Past Negativeよくないよくないです OR

よくありません

Pastよかったよかったです
Past NegativeよくなかったよくなかったですOR

よくありませんでした

 

Now, let’s move onto -な adjectives. These are super easy in comparison to -い adjectives, as they themselves do not conjugate. Instead, we just drop the -な and add endings. I’ll make things a little less tl;dr and jump straight to an example. How about let’s use げんき? This is a good one because although it ends with an -い sound, it is not an -い adjective. I’ll explain that in a minute. For now, let’s put it to use.

AdjectivesInformalFormal
Non-Pastげんきげんきです
Non-Past Negativeげんきじゃない OR

げんきでわない

げんきでわありません
Pastげんきだったげんきでした
Past NegativeげんきじゃなかったOR

げんきでわなかった

げんきでわありませんでした

 

Ok, so back to the whole adjectives ending in that are not -い adjectives. The simplest way I can think of to help you remember which ones are and are not -い adjectives is that the kanji for adjectives are typically two and adjectives are one kanji and some trailing hiragana ending in -い. Until you learn these kanji, it’s just something you pick up on with practice. The awesome part (/sarc) is that it is far from a hard and fast rule, but at least it’s a more-often-than-not situation. But here are some examples:

漢字ひらがなRomajiMeaning
好き すき Suki Like, love
有名ゆうめい Yuumei Famous
きれいきれい Kirei Pretty, beautiful
丁寧ていねいTeineipolite
嫌いきらいKiraito not like
便利べんりBenriuseful, convenient
元気げんきGenkihealthy
大好きだいすきDaisukiPassionate
無理むりMuriunreasonable

 

Ok, so those are the basics. Now that we’ve established how we conjugate the different kinds of adjectives by dropping the final sound and adding endings, here are some other endings and how they are used. I’ll give the meaning, what ending to use, and one example each of an -い adjective and a -な adjective.

 

MeaningAdditionExample AdditionExample
Too [adj]-すぎる

-すぎます

あつすぎる

あつすぎます

-すぎる

-すぎます

へたすぎる

へたすぎます

Looks / seems [adj]-そうふるそう-そうべんりそう
· Becomes -な adjective (-そう)

· いい becomes よさそう

· Adjectives ending in -ない change to -なさそう (e.g., きたない -> きたなさそう)

Become [adj]-くなる

-くなります

さむくなる

さむくなります

-になる

-になります

すきになる

すきになります

Make into [adj]-くする

-くします

あかるくする

あかるくします

-にする

-にします

ゆうめいにする

ゆうめいにします

[adj] -ness-さよわ-さしずか
If it is [adj]-ければちいさければ-なれば

-であれば

ひまなれば

ひまであれば

If it is not [adj]-くなければおいしくなければ-でなければびょうきでなければ
[adj] and (other adj)-くておおきくてせがたかい-でかんたんらく
Adverb form-くはや-にげんき

 

Just to wrap things up, I wanted to go over the adjectives used in this guide. Obviously, there are so many adjectives that it would be impossible to include them here, but if I’m going to use examples, I should probably tell you what they are and what they mean…

漢字ひらがなRomajiMeaning
早いはやい HayaiFast, early
元気げんきGenkiHealthy, cheerful
暑いあついAtsuiHot
下手へたHetaBad at
古いふるいFuruiOld
便利べんりbenriUseful, convenient
汚いきたないKitanaiDirty
寒いさむいSamuiCold
好きすきSukiLikeable, to like
明るいあかるいAkaruiBright
有名ゆうめいYuumeiFamous
弱いよわいYowaiWeak
静かしずかShizukaQuiet, peaceful
小さいちいさいChiisaiSmall
ひまHimaFree (time)
美味しいおいしいOishiiDelicious
病気びょうきByoukiIll, sick
大きいおおきいOokiiBig
背が高いせがたかいSegatakaiTall (person)
簡単かんたんKantanEasy
らくRakuSimple

 

Spread the love
Related Posts
No related posts for this content

    スティーブ・ダゴスティーノ

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

    Leave a Reply: