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Lesson 19: い-adjectives and な-adjectives

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There are two types of adjectives in Japanese, い-adjectives and な-adjectives. These adjectives behave in a different way.

In this lesson you will learn two adjectives, おおきい(ookii), which means big, and きれい, which means pretty. おおきい is an い-adjective, and きれい is a な-adjective.

Using adjectives after a noun

When used after a noun, there is no difference between these two kinds of adjectives, as you can see below.

EnglishJapanese
The car is big.くるま は おおきい です。
kuruma ha ookii desu.
Am I pretty?わたし は きれい です か?
watasi ha kirei desu ka?

When used in front of a noun, な-adjectives end in . This is why な-adjectives are called な-adjectives.

Using adjectives in front of a noun

EnglishJapanese
That is a big tree!それ は おおきい  です!
sore ha ookii ki desu!
Japan is a beautiful country.ほん は きれいな くに です。
nihon ha kireina kuni desu.

い-adjectives don't change when used in front of a noun. All い-adjectives end in , but not all adjectives ending in are い-adjectives. Otherwise きれい would also be an い-adjective, which it is not.

You don't have to worry about remembering whether each adjective you learn is an い-adjective or a な-adjective. We will make sure to use each adjective we teach in a sentence in such a way that you will know and remember.

The nationality suffix

As you can see in the table below, we can refer to a person from a specific country by placing the kanji じん after the country name.

EnglishJapanese
Are (you) Japanese?ほんじん です か?
nihonzin desu ka?
(I) am not Japanese.ほんじん じゃ ない です。
nihonzin zya nai desu.
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